Upon checking in at the monastery, all visitors must promise not to kill any living creature, and that includes any and all insects. It's up to individuals to look at the ground before sitting and make sure it's not already occupied by what I call tiny life.
One early morning, I was by myself having banana pancakes and coffee when a bee began circling my plate. She was quite insistent at wanting some food so I broke a tiny piece of my pancake off and offered it to her. She loved it. I'm guessing it was the syrup she loved the most. I then poured a tiny bit of coffee into a spoon (I had no water to share) and offered it to her thinking she surely had a mouthful of sticky to dissolve. To my surprise, the bee landed on the edge of the spoon and began to sip the coffee! How amazing, I thought. There I was having breakfast with a Nepali bee. I had banana pancakes with this bee two more times before I continued my travels. I think this was where my love for bees was born. (I discovered later that wasps, not bees, like human food, so my bee story was probably, in fact, a wasp story, but it will remain in my heart, the story of when I first fell in love with bees.)
I was trying to get my teen friend enrolled in school and had arranged to meet with his mother that afternoon. I bought lunch for both of them while we waited for our interpreter who never came. We three sat in awkward silence using nervous smiles, and some pointing and nodding to communicate. A few minutes later, I noticed a bee circling our table. It looked a lot like the one at the Kopan Monastery.
The mother quickly shooed the bee away with a violent wave. This had the effect of firing up the bee to buzz more and fly toward the food all the more determined. Her son joined in and just as the bee was about to get a deadly smack by my young friend, I blurted out, "Nooo!" I blocked the attack with my own hand and employed a rudimentary form of traveler's sign language that got them to relax and watch. As the hungry warrior made another pass at our table, I gave her some crumbs. Both mother and son looked at me quite puzzled. As they calmed down, the bee calmed down, and soon got busy tasting my offering. She then flew from my plate to the boy's and on to his mother's looking for more.
It was one of those unexpected and memorable experiences that makes traveling so intoxicating. We were all breaking through the communication barrier with the help of this bee! Or as I pointed out, it was probably a wasp, but I think my point is no less sweet.