Posted: November 7, 2017

Halloween Celebrations and Kicking Off Directed Research

After a few fun and restful academic free days in Bumthang, we jumped right back into classes upon returning to our center in Paro. Day two back, we picked our Directed Research groups and started brainstorming research questions. I choose to work with Dina, our mountain ecology professor. Our group is looking into elevational and river ecosystem gradients, and I’m hoping to look further into the human impacts on the thunderous glacial river that flows through Paro.

This past weekend, Dina, Richen, two other students and I set out on a river reconnaissance mission headed north towards the high Himalaya searching for a major stream fed by one of the glaciers that encapsulate the high mountains. As we rounded a turn the snow-capped peak of Jomolhari materialized, initially indistinguishable from its halo of clouds. Dina shouted, “Is that Tibet?”, and she wasn’t wrong. The massive peak of Jomolhari is contested territory between Bhutan and China. We drove along a dirt road, GPS-marking streams as we went, navigating toward a glacial stream we had found through satellite images. Finally, as the GPS showed less than a mile left we reached a gate. It was a military-occupied, route-permit check point, restricting access to Jomolhari, the Tibetan border and the stream we wanted to evaluate just around the corner! Normally, you have to be prepared for anything as a field scientist, like bad weather, unpredictable wildlife, and evidently military boundaries too.

However, it wasn’t all business at SFS Bhutan this week. We decided to bring a taste of Halloween to Bhutan. We threw a Halloween Party on the rooftop terrace of the Center, complete with jack-o-lanterns, spiced cider, a bonfire and a killer throwback playlist. I was on the planning committee and in all honesty had some doubts about how we would pull it off, but we did it. I think what was most impressive were the costumes. We all were hard-pressed for time and costume supplies were hard to come by in Paro, but that just made us creative. I went as a fairly convincing Harry Potter, with a gho (traditional men’s Bhutanese dress) as wizard’s robes. It was a great night, and tradition I hope continues at SFS Bhutan.

 

A fisherman, centerfruit (an awesome Bhutanese gum), an old woman, Harry Potter, a flamingo, and Milo from Atlantis celebrate the evening

 

 

We could have easily been field scientists for Halloween, but this is me, Dina and Zach geared up to check out a glacial stream

 

Just some of our decorations for the Halloween Bash

 
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