The first morning in Bhutan was bright and sunny and the window of our room looked out over the Paro Valley. I was not quite up for 7AM yoga with Susan and so I went to breakfast, the meal that I quickly learned offered a western selection of offerings that usually included toast and eggs, cereal or oatmeal. This was to be our first rafting day and the puzzle was what to wear. Not being a rafter, my purchases for raft wear were shots in the dark. The chances of getting thoroughly soaked and not being near a change of clothes was my primary worry. The secondary worry was just not to catch a cold.
The two buses pulled up to the Paro Chhu (river) where three rafts and a pontoon rowing boat were inflated and waiting. Helmets, vests and paddles were laid out as well and we were set to go fairly quickly after a run through of just what to do when on the rafts when approaching white water and rocks or getting flipped out of the boat or watching someone else getting flipped out as well as paddle commands. It is easily learned, hard to make second nature. In less than a half hour, we were on the water as I found myself behind an experienced rafter, Juliet, making it far easier for me than trying to figure out whether I was to paddle forward or backwards.
The Paro Chhu is crystal clear with some deeper stretches, but also with a lot of white water. As it was my first white water experience (in a raft) I found myself very much in the moment. Remembering every detail is hard, but I would say that it was exciting as could be. Lunch was an al fresco buffet and we learned that the afternoon paddle was hard with a short portage and that we could, instead, do yoga at the base of the large sitting Buddha that is on a hill overlooking Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan. I chose to raft and that is when the rafting got really fun. We hit some really great rapids and it was exhilarating. By the time we finished, we were cold and wet, but it hardly mattered as we had a beer and chocolate which helped a great deal.
We arrived in Thimpu at a nice five story hotel and had our first tequila party in Susan and Peter’s room. Peter, a first cousin who I have had little contact with in the last forty years, plays the mandolin and his son, Jenner, one of our river guides, plays it as well as any other stringed instrument related to the guitar. Their singing and playing melded the group with ease as we rollicked through a number of old standards and before we knew it, we were all dancing. A great day. http://www.nwrafting.com/