"Expect the unexpected in Bhutan," advised trip leader Tsewang upon picking up our Hiker's Paradise group at the Paro airport. Within 20 minutes, almost as if he'd arranged it especially to illustrate his point, we found ourselves amidst a spectacular, unusual, and hard-to-predict Buddhist ceremony. Tsewang had just caught wind of it before our arrival and whisked us straight from the airport.
Joining the crowds of locals, decked in their brightly colored traditional gho (for men) and kira (for women), we zigzaged our way up a prayer flag-lined path to the massive Paro Dzong and then across the hillside overlooking the Paro Valley to the center of activity. A five-story tall and equally wide thongdrel (a cloth-on-cloth appliqué work) was being unfurled and...
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Candace Rose Rardon is an American writer, photographer and artist currently living in India. She sketches as she travels, and these sketches, combined with the stories behind them, charmingly capture those fleeting, layered moments that are the stepping stones of travel. Recce will be presenting her on-the-road sketches-and-stories -- her sketchbook of serendipities -- in the months to come.
There are a few things this sketch shows: the palace’s intricate cupolas and balustrades, nearly impossible to capture in full detail on paper; the pigeons perching like hideaways among the eaves; and the monochromatic shade of gold that cloaks all of Jaisalmer’s hilltop fort, positioned at the far western edge of India in the Thar Desert.
But what it doesn’t show is my own perch on the terrace of 8 July...
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My earliest world-wanderings were undertaken through others’ words. On the magic carpet of my mother’s voice, I was transported to Narnia by C. S. Lewis, the Sahara and beyond by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, and Great Places by Dr. Seuss. In high school and college I journeyed to Greece with John Fowles, Venice with Thomas Mann, France with Marcel Proust, Vietnam with Graham Greene, India with E. M. Forster, and Africa with Joseph Conrad.
When I managed to actually travel abroad myself, on a summer program in Paris between my junior and senior years in college, I underlined the addresses Ernest Hemingway mentioned in A Moveable Feast and reverently retraced his steps, piling up saucers at the Closerie des Lilas, gazing in awe at his apartment at 74 rue de Cardinal Lemoine...
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As we ease toward summer, I've been recalling a two-week safari to East Africa that I took six summers ago, a life-changing experience t