This past week it felt as if the universe was punishing me for my decision to leave the Land of Happiness. It’s true that my husband and I have loved every moment of living and teaching here in Bhutan and the choice to leave has not been easy. I think I had been avoiding it for months - telling myself I would simply decide whats next in October. But the truth is that I am a planner. It eats me up inside when I don’t know whats happening, especially when there are only a few months left of the year. I began to stress and started to look at my options.
Bhutan has made me realise that it can no longer be denied any longer that I have a passion for teaching in remote or rural areas. I honestly feel it in my bones that its my calling, its what excites me and really gets me going. Dylan and I were playing around with the idea of possibly going to South Korea or maybe even Dubai but it didn't settle well with me - doing something for the money. Money is the furthest possible thing I would ever want, and I mean it! I started looking for rural placements and came up short, then took to looking for volunteering options in South America. I have always wanted to go to Costa Rica but jobs there are far and few between. I have looked countless times teaching jobs and sort of gave up on the idea because I never found anything. Through a volunteering site I came across a school looking for qualified teachers and applied on a whim. I honestly didn't think much about it and forgot about the job after a few weeks had passed.
I also had the option of staying in Bhutan for another year. Coming to Bhutan was not easy. Dylan and I had sold almost everything back home and spent almost half just getting here. I can’t say it wasn't worth every penny because this has been the most fulfilling and rewarding experience of my life. I feel as if I have truly discovered my purpose. But, Dylan cannot work in this country and even if he wanted to there isn't enough adventure sports events to keep him busy. Even if this was sorted he would never be home because its a four day bus ride to get to and back from the capital city. I’ve also been sick more times this year than ever before because I’ve often had to eat potatoes and rice for a month straight, there just weren't any other vegetables or fruit in our village.
I woke up one morning to an email for an interview with the school in Costa Rica. I really couldn't believe it as it had been so long since I applied but I was so excited about the possibility. There’s a feeling you get at the bottom of your stomach when you just know something is right, and I most certainly had it. I can be really hard on myself and even though the interview went fairly well, I didn't let myself get my hopes up because this was just something I truly wanted. I didn't want to face the disappointment of not getting it. The school is in a rural area of Costa Rica and it focuses on sustainable and eco development - it has its own chickens! The school serves vegetarian and vegan lunches daily. I mean, come on!
I cannot even describe how grateful I am to have been given the opportunity to teach in Costa Rica. I think I’m still kind of in shock and could have cried when I was accepted for the position. And this week I broke the news to my Bhutan family, friends and students. They have really been thinking I’d stay forever, even often suggesting I stay for 15 years so that I gain citizenship. Madam Tshering has been trying to convince me to have two girls who will obviously be married off to her sons, Tashi and Nima. I was dreading the whole conversation entirely. But, everyone was totally accepting and happy for me, because they can’t get any more special! So many questions have been asked in excitement about Costa Rica and I have already promised to send packages from my new home.
I thought everything went down pretty well, but the Land of the Thunder Dragon seemed to disagree. It began on Monday with a giant (I mean GIANT) hole in my dress, right at the back in an area where you would least want a torn slit to be flashing everyone and anyone. Madam Tshering caught a peek before assembly, luckily before all the students got to know me on a far more personal level. She stitched me up in the staffroom and I was safe for the rest of the day. On Tuesday I woke up in the middle of the night with something tickling my arm. I find it odd that it always seems so much smaller while lying there in the dark like perhaps an ant is crawling on you. I switched on the light and found the biggest cockroach in my bed ready for cuddles - I should admit that this is not the first time this has happened. On Wednesday I was late for school (as usual) and missed the bus. It is still raining constantly and besides my better judgement I decided to take the quicker, muddier path through he rice paddies to school. I made it past the worst part of mud and water and thought I was in the clear. Moments later, I found myself deep in between the tall rice and waist deep in water. I had slipped off the path and into the rice paddy. By now the rice has grown well above my height and it is swamped with water and mud. Needless to say, I had to walk back home with half of my dress and legs caked in mud. I had to bucket bath for the second time that morning and changed before walking back to school (the long way).
The Thunder Dragon has left me alone for now and I am so grateful. This week has been a reminder of exactly where I am. There is no way I would have fallen into a rice field on my way to school or been woken to a cockroach in my bed back in South Africa.
For now, I’ve promised to remember this magical place and I am letting everyone know it will forever have a special place in my heart. I love you, Bhutan.