Location: Dharamsala

John’s and my day started very early this morning as our learning partners planned to take us up into the mountains for Tibetan incense burning day to hang up prayer flags, feed the incense bonfire and observe the sensational view from the top of the mountain. At the top of the mountain, my learning partner gave John and I a handful of pine needles to throw into the incense bonfire. We stayed for a couple more minutes to hear my learning partner, a Tibetan monk in a Nepalese monastery, chant from Tibetan scripture and then John, my learning partner and I started our hour-long hike back down the mountain. An interesting fact I learned on the way down is that a yak is only a male animal and the female version is called Adri. So things like yak cheese and yak milk are named incorrectly.

While John and I were making the trip to the top of the mountain, the girls followed the typical routine. They woke up at 8:00 and met their learning partners at Common Ground at 9:30. As it was Tibetan incense burning day, most of the girls also went with their learning partners to hang up prayer flags. Julia, Maddie, Fiona and Allie all went with their learning partners to hang prayer flags on the path that circumambulates the Dalai Lama temple. Bryn, who didn’t hang up prayer flags, went shopping with her learning partner instead. She bought a piece of cloth with elephants on it and a shirt that says hello in Tibetan.

  After a scrumptious meal of fried rice, bok choy, Tibetan bread, and some pork dish, we headed out from Common Ground to our afternoon activities. Since it was a holiday, the baby daycare where Bryn, Julia and Allie volunteer was closed, so they had tons of time to walk around Dharamsala and buy souvenirs and mementos from street vendors. From what I heard, Julia’s haggling skills developed very quickly, and shop vendors had a very tough time ripping her off, Bryn’s skills did not.

John, Fiona, Maddie and I went to Men Tsee Khang, the Tibetan medicinal and astrological college, and taught our usual class for college students. Every day our lessons get better and better and according to the students feedback the best parts of our class are hangman, a survival game we invented, and John and Maddie singing and dancing to Taylor Swift. In the middle of our class, the great weather we had had the past few days took a turn for the worse. A torrential rainstorm erupted, and soon the steep, sloping streets were gushing with water. On some steep roads, the water came down so fast that one of my shoes came off while I was walking and Rabsel had to chase after it.

  After our afternoon activities, the group met back at Common Ground for a cooking lesson from Rabsel. He taught us how to make Momos, little-steamed balls of dough filled with either vegetables or meat. Unfortunately for all of us, some of us decided to make Doughmos, Momos that look normal but are just an extremely thick piece of dough. Thankfully, Rabsel and his wife also made Momos for us, and we all had a filling and satisfying dinner. We returned to the monastery guesthouse to make lesson plans for tomorrow and write in our journals. Today was the best day we have had so far in Dharamsala, and I can’t wait to see what the next two weeks have in hold for us.