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The Tiger's Nest in Bhutan. Photo by Chelsea Ferrel.

The Girl in Paro: Intro to Bhutan

What do you remember?

Here I speak to the Dragons within us all. I speak to the adventurer. I speak to the risk-taker. I speak to those who seek connection. I speak to those who search for a greater purpose.

What do you remember?

We’ve done so much in our first couple of days in Bhutan. We’ve admired the towering dzongs (ancient fortresses). We’ve appreciated the intricate detail of century old monastaries. We’ve tasted delicious foods, frequently spicy, that has challenged both our sheltered palletes and digestion systems. Perhaps we’ve done too much. When these times are gone, the years passed, how much will I remember? The dzongs I visited, the statues I saw, the butter tea I drank. They will all be forgotten.

But I saw a girl in Paro.

She was no older than eight. Her short black hair matched her mother’s. Standing there, on the side of the road next to her brother, she waved as our bus traveled by. I noticed a second too late, but stuck my head out the window, waving as I looked back at her. As she saw my wave, though probably not expecting one back, she waved once more. And she smiled. Before long she was out of sight as the bus continued onwards, as if nothing ever happened.

I’ve already forgotten. I’ve forgotten what clothes she wore. I’ve forgotten what her face looked like. I’ve forgotten why I turned in the first place. And of course I never had the chance to remember. Her name, where she was going, how she was feeling, or what she dreams of, I never knew. I can only wonder why she turned in the first place.

Yet I feel a lingering connection to that girl in Paro. A part of me feels reassured that the time I’m spending here isn’t wasted. Reassured that the people I meet here matter. That something more comes from human connection. The beauty in life is everywhere. It may have taken a journey to the place there be dragons, the unknown of my sheltered mind, that those smiles are universal. I may someday completely forget that girl in Paro. But that feeling of connection between the whole of humanity, those random strangers on the road, is unforgettable.

So I ask you, what will you remember?