Women of the Northwest

Ramona Hunter: Seeking after Gross National Happiness in Buhtan

June 16, 2024 Ramona Hunter Episode 96
Ramona Hunter: Seeking after Gross National Happiness in Buhtan
Women of the Northwest
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Women of the Northwest
Ramona Hunter: Seeking after Gross National Happiness in Buhtan
Jun 16, 2024 Episode 96
Ramona Hunter

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Happiness Matters: Tshering Tobgay at TEDxThimphu

Ramona Hunter and her husband Brad were intrigued with the idea of Gross National Happiness.  So they took a trip with National Geographic to Buhtan.

Ramona had travelled to Asia in the past, and always wanted to return to Buhtan, which is the first country in the world to pursue happiness as a state policy.

They have broken down the precepts to basic needs:

  • Security
  • Identity
  • Purpose

This includes psychological well-being, health, education, time-use, community vitality, ecological diversity, and living standards.

Ramona takes us on a guided tour of Buhtan and its culture.

Click the link above to watch an intriguing TEDx episode with more information.

Subscribe to the Women of the Northwest podcast for inspiring stories and adventures.
Find me on my website: jan-johnson.com

Show Notes Transcript

Send us a Text Message.

Happiness Matters: Tshering Tobgay at TEDxThimphu

Ramona Hunter and her husband Brad were intrigued with the idea of Gross National Happiness.  So they took a trip with National Geographic to Buhtan.

Ramona had travelled to Asia in the past, and always wanted to return to Buhtan, which is the first country in the world to pursue happiness as a state policy.

They have broken down the precepts to basic needs:

  • Security
  • Identity
  • Purpose

This includes psychological well-being, health, education, time-use, community vitality, ecological diversity, and living standards.

Ramona takes us on a guided tour of Buhtan and its culture.

Click the link above to watch an intriguing TEDx episode with more information.

Subscribe to the Women of the Northwest podcast for inspiring stories and adventures.
Find me on my website: jan-johnson.com


[00:01] Jan: Are you looking for an inspiring listen, something to motivate you? You've come to the right place. Welcome to Women of the Northwest, where we have conversations with ordinary women leading extraordinary lives. Motivating, inspiring, compelling. My guest today is Ramona Hunter. Hello, Ramona.

[00:22] Ramona: Hello.

[00:24] Jan: Nice to have you here today.

[00:25] Ramona: Thank you. It's good to be here. It's really good to be here.

[00:28] Jan: You just went on a big trip.

[00:30] Ramona: Yes, yes. It's a continuation of a trip that started 45 years ago. Oh, yes, yes.

[00:38] Jan: Well, we want to hear all about it.

[00:40] Ramona: Okay. Okay. Well, honestly, I was just having this discussion with my sister-in-law, who now lives in England, and we were asking each other when we got the travel bug. And we were shocked to find out that it happened between two things, between National Geographic magazine and our own home, which was shocking to have a big family, and we had sports illustrated for the guys, which I didn't need. And then we had National Geographic. And then in school, it was my weekly reader.

[01:19] Jan: Oh, and it was.

[01:20] Ramona: And I very, very clearly have the memory of Brasilia.

[01:26] Jan: Oh.

[01:27] Ramona: And it was talking about the new planned capital city for Brazil becoming Brasilia. And now it's just a huge city, and I've never been there, and I don't even know that I want to go there, you know, Rio de Janeiro. Yeah. But, yeah, so, it's been. And then. And then the travel bug for me just continued on with the most amazing teachers, luckily, that I had in school. You know, my humanities teacher, my French teacher.

[01:54] Jan: Yeah.

[01:55] Ramona: And so, on. And my whole plan was to teach special education in France. Oh, don't you know why? Because my teacher was. My French teacher was so, amazing to me. And she had taught right outside of Mont St. Michel, and she taught English in private girls school. And it just was so, perfect. I mean, it wasn't Paris, it was, you know, out in the country, and it was closer to Normandy and where. And I have a family history of my uncle going in there, and it just was so, intriguing to me. But back in those days, you had to. I was the first of five girls to go to college, and I had to pay for my own way to live in France for an immersion. And so, I had to make the decision. So, I dropped French. I never dropped the need to travel, the urge to travel, to live overseas. So, when I was a senior, Australia was going through a change in how they educated their teachers, which is. It's something that's very common around the world, where they will. It's almost being indentured. You guarantee education for four years to teachers. And then they go out and they are given a location to teach, whether they want to be there or not. So, they were finding that they were sending city kids, Melbourne and Sydney out into what they call the whoop whoops beyond Ayers rock and such, and they weren't going. And so, they needed to revamp their program. So, they shut it down to rethink how they were going to fund it. And they brought planeloads of American students from different universities. So, I was on a 747 with about 200 young teachers that just graduated. Some were a little older.

[03:57] Jan: Let's go on an adventure.

[03:58] Ramona: Oh, my gosh. And little did I know. So, I come from this wonderful background, and I loved my school. I just thought I was at the top of my game when I was 21 years old. I know, you know, that naivete. I was so,.

[04:14] Jan: Yeah.

[04:15] Ramona: And so, it was really. It was really so,mething. And I look back at that as I've mentored teachers, and I see that.

[04:22] Jan: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

[04:24] Ramona: And anyway, I got over there, and many people didn't want Americans there because it was still shortly after the bad taste of Vietnam. And, you know, you'd go down to the tube of the subway and it'd be, don't get yanked into Vietnam. So, that that was there. But when we started working with teachers, there was never. And you were working in school, it was just one on one, and it was just who you were. And it was just a really beautiful way of getting to know another country and another society. And that was so, wonderful for me. And I loved it so, much that I thought I would go home, get my masters, come back, stay there, then start. And then I got home. And then my life changed again. And as it does, you know, and then I taught in Alaska while another girlfriend of mine was in Saudi Arabia. Arabia. I was in Kodiak, Alaska, for ten, and she was in Saudi Arabia for ten. And then we both came back, came back to the States. But in the meanwhile, barely a year, my last year, then I got married, and I was no longer in charge of, necessarily my own destiny, as it goes. But I never lost centers of travel. So, when I met my husband, his job prohibited him from traveling and practicing vet medicine. You know, if he wanted to go somewhere, he would be a meat inspector. So, that was not exactly. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, that changed everything. So, we got down to Astoria, and that's another story. But. But always the need to travel was there. And he, his own brother, had lived in South America, and so, we had. He'd had a lot of experience, you know, going down there and working with him, aside of him. And he was a, his brother was a geologist and a couple different things. And so, that was good. And Brad really did, my husband did decide that that was a good thing, that we should work towards that. Then you have kids.

[06:36] Jan: Yeah.

[06:36] Ramona: And then you're in your career and all that was wonderful. You know, I mean, I think it's that whole thing about, you know, you bloom. You do bloom. Or what do you do? You shovel, you wilt and you're composted. So, just to be able to wait until, like, we went back to Australia with my daughter when she was young, and then we just started doing as much as we could with her, my oldest daughter. And then when my second daughter came along, then we did do some unique island trips, you know, that weren't everyday travel things. And we're a little bit rougher. But finally, you know, by the time we were able to travel on our own, I really wanted to pick up where I left off. And that means that after my two years in Australia with three young women, we were all the same age. In fact, three of us had birthdays three days in a row. We traveled through Southeast Asia for six months. We wanted to do twelve, but things happen. And we had the most extraordinary experience meeting because we were backpacking.

[07:52] Jan: Yeah.

[07:53] Ramona: And we did. Yeah. And we were good girls, you know, and we tried to respect the land and we, you know, stayed in hustles or we. We just. We just did it economically and had the most rewarding experiences in Asia. You know, Europe was another thing. You know, this was just so, grassroots roots and understanding. Starting to see the connection from country to country to country with Buddhism and seeing monks and seeing nuns and seeing novitiates and seeing young men that were novices and starting to see how. How respected they were, you know. And even though the countries. Well, we started out in, well, Bali, that's a gift in all through Indonesia. And then you just see, as we traveled and we got closer and we were traveling actually to the east, Burma was very difficult to be in because it was under such tight control, and they were doing a brain drain, a think tank drain. And then when we went into India, it was, you just saw how, how people in their lives were really suffering day by day, and. And that was very tragic. But then when we got on into the mountains, the Himalayas, even in India, then you started to see how much healthier life was as opposed to a city. And it happens anywhere, you know, yeah. There's just so, many things that are repeated in life and identical. But when we were in the mountain areas, where they were growing tea, it was just so, healthy and so, beautiful, and people were so, happy.

[09:54] Jan: Yeah. And that, you know, in simple lifestyles, that we're people that maybe don't have anything and they're just happy.

[10:05] Ramona: And then when we went on into Nepal, we went to Kathmandu. And I was there when one of the big cities in the town, which I just learned on my last trip was called Freak Street. And it was because hash was not considered, or I think they had just decided that it was an illegal substance, but nobody did anything about it. So, you know, you're walking around and you're seeing the weirdest shops, and they're all European. So, it's not the people of the country, it's, oh, this is after the war. Oh, let's party. Let's come down and let's find these countries where there's nobody watching us. We can do. And so, that was. That was pretty hard for me. But then we went to a city, a lot of people call it Pokhara. I mean, Pokhara, but it's Pokhara. And it's the foothills again, to go on major climbs. So, I'm prior to all the accessibility of really climbing, you know, the highest peaks and whether it's Annapurna or Everest or whatever. And that was the. The people that we met were so, loving and kind and honest and pure. You know, you spoke English. A lot of them did, because English was okay. So, this goes back to the study of many parts of the world where you have. And I'm not saying it's always English this time, but, for example, even in Tanzania, how many different languages, how many different tribal languages did they have? So, So, they have Swahili as their main language. But if you live in a tiny, tiny, tiny little village, maybe you don't have that advantage to learn Swahili. And many times through South Asia, not Southeast Asia, South Asia. The language that they would depend on, the common language, would be English, because not in. But I haven't gotten to Bhutan, but not necessarily in Bhutan, but in Nepal. Bhutan was always Bhutan. It has never been controlled by another country. It's never been part of the British empire. But, of course, England had India, England had Nepal. And so, they brought their British system of education, you know. But when Bhutan moved into more of. We can't keep people out of here forever. Things are happening, and we're going to have to make some choices. Because China's up there. China's taken to that. What are we going to do? So, they chose English. So, that's going back to your question. They chose English as being their primary language. Now when you're there, people go back to their own language, too. And we were told, oh, not that many years ago, probably in the forties. Well, originally in the 16 hundreds, when Bhutan became Bhutan, there were at least 40 different tribal languages.

[13:14] Jan: Yeah, that's a lot.

[13:15] Ramona: Yeah. And so, to unify again, they chose one above the rest. But this has taken 400 years. And what's interesting about how this has played out today, we were right on the border between Tibet and Bhutan when I was with my girlfriends. And that's when we just had so,me different things that we had a family death, and we had, you know, and so, we had permission to we had our permits to climb Kilimanjaro. We were going to scoot back over there and do that. Well, that didn't happen. But what did happen was we had we all agreed that we would see these most beautiful people that looked Navajo.

[13:58] Jan: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And it's interesting, isn't it?

[14:02] Ramona: Yes. And it was very different because if you know, there are many tribes in India, of course, but there's specific features that I always think about with Indians and pretty much the same with Tibet. But Bhutan, and it was kind of like this mystical place. And when we were there in 76, it had just barely opened in 73 because they were reckoning with the rest of the world. What are we going to do? And because people are coming in whether we want it or not, kind of like seven days in Tibet, people were going to invade. So, it was interesting because we couldn't go there, not only because we were out of time, et cetera. They didn't have enough roads built.

[14:50] Jan: Oh.

[14:50] Ramona: So, even though they opened the country up, then they had to start rethinking their infrastructure. And I knew a little bit about this before I went, but in all the years of, you know, you talk about the places that you have to go to, you have to go back to. And Bhutan was just always at the top because it would just seem like, you know, there's this whole story about and it's very important. Gross national happiness. GNH. That's certainly something that I totally respect, and I totally wish we could expand upon the United States and the whole world. But the more important thing is just what happened to them that they needed to open, and that was the freedom to be able to go there under their respective rules. And so, as we started looking at it, we thought, okay, do we want. And we have known a few people that have gone. A really, really dear friend of ours went and had the guide, and she was there, I don't know, 15 days. She had one guide, and she did. I mean, they're still friends, and that ends up happening. You remain friends with the people that you meet there. They touch your heart, you touch theirs. And it's so, interesting because it's not any financial gain, whereas it might be in some other place. I'm going to stay in contact with you because maybe you can get me in touch with a scholarship. Maybe you can do this for me. It is nothing like that. It is just that sheer down to earth relationship. Yeah. And the honesty that comes with it. And prior to this conversation, when we were just talking about religion, and I was raised Catholic and Methodist, which is so, strange, but I'm sure I'm not alone with having a protestant and catholic religion in the same family. But I think what was really important to see for me is the honoring of, no matter what your belief system was in being there and seeing people every day not declare that they're Hindu, not declare that they're Buddhist, but they were able to be so, good and so, loving and so, wanting to connect with you as another perso,n and not to get your pic, not to get their picture taken with you. You know, I saw that, too, but that wasn't what it was. And there was. Okay, so, I'll go back to where we chose National Geographic to go with, because we didn't want to just have one person take us around. We wanted to have more guidance. And we'd read about, they have Ng programs that are called cultural tours, and they're very small, and they're not exactly easy. You know, you're going to trek, you're going to live in what they call homestays, or ABC hotels, which are very small, very basic. And the food is very much either Nepalese food, if you're in Nepal, or Bhutanese food. So, Bhutanese food is cheese and chilies. Oh, you know, most of the. Every day. And you see how much chili you can handle every day, how hot can you take it? But one situation we were in, it was a homestay situation, but we were just having a Bhutanese meal. And I met this little girl, Pema, who was ten, and, oh, it was just. She just climbed her way. She started out in her little school uniform, and she just wrapped her arm around the wall and looked and all this. And normally she was really shy. But I think she saw four women that just said, you're okay. And she came in, and pretty much within minutes, she sat between my husband and myself. And then she had enough English that I could just say, I am a teacher. And so, then she left and brought her school books back. And at ten. Oh, my gosh. You could see she showed me schoolbooks from a couple years prior. And you could see the progression of her skills, and you could just see how proud she was.

[19:15] Jan: My teacher's heart went boom.

[19:16] Ramona: Oh, totally. And then she asked our driver if she could spend the rest of the day with us. And so,. And that's another thing. Like, our driver, he's actually an architect. Their education system is free. If they get to a point, all everything that's part of their gross national happiness, if they make their people happy, if they give them what they need, then they will produce in the country. They will be the best version. Right? You would think. You would think. You know, you would think. So, his opportunity was when he graduated from school in the british system. You know, they still, they use that. They implement that. He had the scores to where he was chosen to go or seize a school. He didn't know where he was going to go. All of a sudden, he gets this airline ticket and is to South Korea. Oh, but he could have been to America. I mean, you just never know. It's like, hand them out. So, he went there, and he didn't speak any Korean, but he did speak English. And so, one of the, he met a young girl that, well, she was a student too, and her dad was a Methodist minister. And he was over there working as a missionary. So, he started going to that church, and he started learning Korean. Oh, through all of that.

[20:39] Jan: Yeah.

[20:40] Ramona: So, then he got back home, and he it's very interesting because he actually grew up in a really tiny village. And there's a movie made, the yak in the classroom. That is something that everybody should watch. It won all these awards, and it was just made last year. That's his village.

[20:58] Jan: Oh.

[20:59] Ramona: And it's the story of a teacher that has lost his way. And he goes on, and he actually, it's an experience of his life. Yeah, the yak in the classroom. But what was important to me was that for our Xinjiang, our guide, he had chosen to take some years off and be a guide. And he wore the national costume, which really isn't a costume. It's their daily wear. And he was so, knowledgeable. And his English is very good. And he also, had the best sense of humor. And so,, you know, you'd be wanting to ask, and I was always such a setup because I'd ask him something, really. And then he'd come back, and he'd make us like, oh, Ramona, not that again. But he made a seed, the really much lighter side of life. And he knew Pema's parents. And so, going back to that. So, when we had dinner, then Pema came and stayed with us the rest of the day and went back to our other hotel, which was so, interesting in itself. We're in the ha Valley, which is so, gorgeous. And she would run in because we were having a cooking lesson on dumplings, which are called momos. And so, she would come in and she'd make a momo, and then she'd go back out and she was busy doing something. Well, she was making daisy chain necklaces for all of us there. And it was just so, sweet because she wasn't on an iPad. Yeah.

[22:29] Jan: Yeah.

[22:30] Ramona: It was just. And she wanted to share that with us. Yes. You know, and it was just really a charming, charming experience. And her mom is on WhatsApp, so,, you know, I can continue to stay. And I have. Yeah, I just got back, but I will. I will stay in contact with her because who knows where she'll go to school.

[22:51] Jan: Right.

[22:51] Ramona: And she's very bright, you know, so, she'll be one of those that has a choice, no doubt, to go to school wherever she wants to go. Yeah.

[23:00] Jan: So, how did you make momos? What are they?

[23:03] Ramona: Momos are dumplings. So, of course, they make it so, easy. So, maybe three cups of flour and one cup of water, and that's it. And you mix it, you knead it, you roll it, you pat it up, work it with tea, and then the actual filling. We did vegetarian meals a lot, and, well, we also,. They don't eat meat.

[23:28] Jan: Okay.

[23:29] Ramona: So, that's another thing because. Because they are Buddhist and, you know, the Satan society. But they would. So, we would cook that. It would be curry or it would be chili and cheese, and then you'd mix this up, and then they had a very specific, tricky way to twist them shut. Oh, close them. And so, we made round and we made half-moons. I mean, I would love to do a momo class.

[23:54] Jan: That would be fun.

[23:54] Ramona: Yeah, it would.

[23:55] Jan: It is programmed.

[23:56] Ramona: Yes. Yes, it would be. Yes, it would be good. And then they steam. They don't fry really anything, so, they steam those. And you always get a serving. They're not that big. So, whenever you go anywhere and you get a momo serving, it's ten. And, and they make them on, on the spot and they don't save them. So, it's not something that they're gonna freeze and eat for later. They're, they're just going to make them as they want them and. Which is part of their culture.

[24:22] Jan: Yeah.

[24:23] Ramona: You know, everything they do, making tortillas. Well, the other thing I think is really interesting about, you know, how they choose to live is that they insist on making whatever is able to grow at that time. I mean, they really stick with that system. And so, if it's corn, it's going to be corn, you know, if it's going to be, well, squash, same thing, more of a winter vegetable. But we had a lot of fruit while we were there. You know, we ate watermelon constantly. It was such a dream.

[24:48] Jan: Heavenly.

[24:49] Ramona: And. Yeah, yeah. And, and it was interesting because they don't have meat, but I think because of the protein factor for the people on our trip. And let me tell you, we were not Americans, were a few, you know, they come from Switzerland and Cyprus and Hong Kong and, you know, all these things which.

[25:09] Jan: That in itself was interesting.

[25:11] Ramona: It was so, interesting. It was so, interesting. And so, just to be respectful, they would, they would throw in some meat if you, if you chose, but that meat has flown into their country.

[25:23] Jan: Oh, so, interesting.

[25:25] Ramona: Yeah.

[25:26] Jan: Describe their houses.

[25:28] Ramona: Well, you know, they have. Okay, well, this is interesting. The country itself is covered right now in 70% forest, and they won't go down below anything less than 60%. So, they have a lot of timber, a lot of beautiful timber. But the timber house of it is just one thing, because it really comes back to the decorating that is all hand painted. And a lot of it is. Well, all of it is symbolic, and it is symbolic of Buddhism, but it's not like they're pushing it in your face. It's like lotus flowers. And what is the lotus in a lantern. And what is this lantern with light. So, But they're, but they're intricate designs and they're painted everywhere. And so, they're all gorgeous. They're. Yeah. And, but very simple, very simple heating, if really no heat and lots of blankets. And I. Even in the yak in the classroom, the, the sheets were for the windowpanes. They were waxed. Oh, waxed, yeah. And at one point, he runs out of paper for his classroom, so, he takes all the sheets off of, and he just bundles up more with blankets so, he can use the paper for the kids to write on it. Was great. So,. Yeah, but it's definitely, and it was interesting because, you know, even when you stayed in Thimphu is their largest city and we stayed in a hotel, you're not going to find swimming pools. You know, you're. But you, but it's almost like, why would you.

[27:11] Jan: Yeah.

[27:11] Ramona: You know, get out on the street and go see vendors or get out of the town just a little bit and go hike, you know? And. Yeah. So, there's, there's just so, much that can be gained just by a very, very, very simple and, and wonderful experience just in meeting the people and seeing what gross national happiness really is.

[27:37] Jan: Yeah.

[27:37] Ramona: You know, that your basic needs are taken care of. And if you're educated and also, that means if you have the ability to read and if you can protect your citizens through medicine, then what is it that you have to be afraid of or aware of? And their biggest problems right now are other countries. And it's not really other countries. It really is the whole political thing about China. And China has moved down on their border. China took Tibet, and they don't really, you know, I've always called it Tibet. Well, China doesn't call it Tibet. And they have actually built some installations along the northern border of Bhutan. But it's interesting because in their way of looking at life, which is so, purist, they have all of their mountains, which is what that border is, are sacred. So, why would they build a road? Why would they ever offer mountain climbing? You know, they're not going to. And they have the highest uncle mountain in the world. Yeah, but it's not Everest and it's not ever going to be in Everest. So,. And if they don't entice China, then China has nothing to gain. And there's more politics behind it and there's more aggression. But it's checked right now because they just live where they're safe and they're actually building, do you know, plant cities around the world, like Canberra, Australia? They're just. Okay, well, there's some plant cities in the world and they are working on kind of like creating the most gross national happiness city in the world. And it really is coming down more on the border between India and Bhutan. And when you get down there, they've picked these waterways so, that they can divide a city and have all the different important factors of a city to make people live a life where they can also, get out into the country. I mean, that is such an important way that they look at life because it comes back to how they believe the world really works. And it's not humans first. It's all of us, including the tigers, including the flora and the fauna, which is another thing that I haven't even mentioned, but you're never separated from it at any point. And the way they treat their milking cows, you know, they're dairy cows, they don't have meat cows. And the way they treat their yaks and the way they treat their dogs and their sheep, and it is just in, gosh, they're wild animals. You know, we were supposed to take a hike, but they had put up the CCTV cameras. Those are closed circuit. And they were checking. National Geographic was checking, actually where one tire was going and it was on the hike. And so, they had decided to switch that for a while. So, we didn't get to take one hike. We did many, but we didn't get to do that hike because that was where the tiger was hanging out.

[30:46] Jan: Oh.

[30:46] Ramona: And it was probably not a very good idea. It was just so,, so,, so, beautiful.

[30:52] Jan: Is there anything that from, you know, because you're talking a lot about their culture and beliefs and the lifestyle and whatever, are there any things that you feel like you have brought back that you want to implement in your life?

[31:06] Ramona: Yes. Yes. I think I wake. Oh, gosh, I wake up every day being so, aware of my surroundings, and it's at times very much overwhelming. And I know when we talked about doing this, it was like, what will you remember in ten days or whatever? I'm not home yet. I think that's the biggest, most profound thing. And I'm working at Camp Kiwanilong, and I know we were talking about, I mean, it's like when those kids come out there, it's outdoor school and 100%. And that program in itself is probably nearest and dearest to my heart of all the things that we have locally going on right now. And I sat in a meeting yesterday where we talked about as simple as water. And this is another thing. The bag that I brought you, there's no plastic. Oh, and you've probably seen that in your travels, too. You'll never see a plastic bag in Nepal or a Bhutan. They have these woven bags that disintegrate. And when we were guided for the trip, we had directions like bring your water bottle because we're going to fill those. You're not going to have water bottles. And they're very careful about trash that's supposed to be recycled, but it's so, difficult to do it. And so, we had a long discussion yesterday, and I said, I just don't know why we don't have a neoprene bottle hanger for the kids. And that's where I'm just so, adamant about these things that, oh, well, you know, we just get our water donated by. And, yeah, they just give us water bottles and I said, so, you know, why don't we just have, I mean, you can borrow these water containers from XYZ and you could set them at stations and. Or can we get a grant for the water fountains so, the kids will fill their own? I mean, and that's the thing that I think they want. I think Bhutan wants to export that idea of what does it take to have a healthy society? What does it take to not use fossil fuels? Really?

[33:24] Jan: Yeah.

[33:24] Ramona: You know, they sell their hydroelectric power and that's one of their main money makers. They are suffering right now because they're having to build roads to build up tourism that is still controlled. So, they have some growing pains. But their main objective is to keep everything in check and keep their society educated and hopefully bring those kids back home. So, they build this tiny little country, which is about the size of Switzerland.

[33:50] Jan: Yeah.

[33:50] Ramona: You know, it's like Connecticut's three times the size of Bhutan, to put it in perspective, but having the concern of saving animals and not just saving animals, but living with them, you know, and giving them the same love that you have because it is Mother Earth and you get that feeling for it every day. And I think I was pretty much raised with that. I was always raised with taking care of what we have. I think it was at the time financial, you know, waste not, want not.

[34:29] Jan: Right, right.

[34:30] Ramona: But now we're really seeing what waste has done. So,, you know, and to be so, adamant about it, yesterday in that meeting, everybody just kind of sat up and said, okay, I think we can get neoprene holders. Okay. I think that's doable. Yeah. And it's such a small thing, but isn't that what we always say? Yeah, you know, it starts small and they're a part of, they're not recognized by the United States yet. I don't quite get that. Hillary Clinton went over there and did some wonderful things, but I think they're too small and they're not. Well, if China moves in more, it's just another piece. But they are a part of the UN and they do take their progressive programs to say, like, you know, 70% is that thinking process and using fabric instead of any kind of plastic. And what do they really eat? They don't need to kill cows. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I mean, both my parents, both. I mean, my grandparents and my husband's grandparents had dairy and beef cattle. But just knowing that you're not gonna die eating rice or other things, you know, other sustainable things that we can grow here, I think that that's what I came home with.

[35:56] Jan: Yeah.

[35:56] Ramona: You know, and just loving life, being so, grateful. And that's not to say that I wasn't glad to come home and sleep in my own bed.

[36:06] Jan: Right.

[36:07] Ramona: And, you know.

[36:07] Jan: Well, there's that, too. Right?

[36:09] Ramona: Yeah. Yeah. The creature comforts that we have. But just really, that's a different outlook. And, you know, I knew that to be able to talk to you, it's just hard to try to. I don't have any interest in selling so, something, you know, it's just that if somebody's willing to listen and just even to read a book about it, because it's a different way of being. And the prime minister has done Ted talks, and there's just stuff out there. There's also,. It's really tongue in cheek, but I think it's the monk with a gun. It so,unds terrible, but it's not. It's really very sweet. And it's about their changing society. And it's a beautiful movie. So, that's another one. People could watch both of those and get a real sense of what the country's all about.

[37:00] Jan: Yeah, yeah. Very good. Very good. Anything else you want to add?

[37:06] Ramona: I want to go back. I really hope that we can go to Tibet someday. You know, I think. I'm not plugging National Geographic, but the good thing that they do is they, wherever they are, they give seed money to start anybody in, like, homestay ventures. And, for example, in Nepal, in Bhutan right now, you can take a homestay and you don't have to do it just with Angie, but if you went with them, you could take a week worth of their beautiful calligraphy or cooking classes or weaving, or you could do some sheep herding.

[37:52] Jan: Yeah.

[37:52] Ramona: You know, and they are trying to make their way into Tibet, but it's a pretty dicey situation because you're working with China.

[38:01] Jan: Yeah, but.

[38:03] Ramona: But, you know, it's kind of give and take because China knows what they have with Tibet. And. And right now, the only difficulty in getting into that country is, you know, to get into the country. They are really making it difficult with a visa, all that kind of stuff. And it just really makes it hard. By the time you get everything okay, you might have five days.

[38:25] Jan: Yeah. Yeah.

[38:26] Ramona: And certainly you know, the Dalai Lama, people probably don't know this, but the Dalai Lama hasn't lived in Tibet for a gazillion years, and he is in. He's in India, but he travels most. You know, he's. The pope doesn't get to travel, but he travels very much like the pope would have.

[38:44] Jan: Yeah.

[38:44] Ramona: And graces his presence and talks about. About all of these things, satient beings and living in the world as if you are not owning it, you're part of it. So, Tibet is one place that I want to go, but I also, just want to keep what I am experiencing, which is so, timely. I want to keep it alive with everything that I do and participate in. Yeah, yeah. Carry that forward and carry my. My total faith.

[39:22] Jan: Yeah.

[39:23] Ramona: You know, the faith that I have grown into being raised Catholic and Methodist and seeing the beauty in the Buddhistfaith.

[39:35] Jan: Yeah.

[39:35] Ramona: You know, seeing not their ten commandments. They have a million. But you know, that in. Yeah. So, in the commonalities in all these religions, it's just so, good to be.

[39:47] Jan: In some other countries and just see, you know, different cultures and things that you are not used to or even think about. And something like that is so, diverse from what we're used to.

[39:59] Ramona: Oh, yeah.

[40:00] Jan: And maybe if we live in Portland, LA, big cities or something, we might see more of that, but we don't here on the coast.

[40:07] Ramona: No, we don't.

[40:08] Jan: We're just not exposed.

[40:10] Ramona: We don't see too many saris. We don't see.

[40:13] Jan: Right, exactly.

[40:14] Ramona: Yeah. And it's. Yeah. Diversity is just the best.

[40:18] Jan: Yeah.

[40:18] Ramona: Whether it's animal or human. Yes. All of it is very good.

[40:25] Jan: Well, thank you, Ramona. This has been really interesting.

[40:28] Ramona: It's been fun. Thank you for letting me just gab.

[40:33] Jan: Well, yours are welcome.