Today is the second day of the Poon Hill trek. The guidebooks indicate much of the trek would be climbing stone steps. I’m glad the guidebook left out the details none of us really want to know ahead of time. It would ruin all the surprises that may have given us second thoughts about starting out on whatever adventure is being described. “To Glorify and Enroll” should be the mandatory warning on the cover of most guide books. “Reader Beware.” Continue reading Poon Hill, Day Two
Yesterday, at the guesthouse I had a rock hard pillow. I used a rolled up jacket instead. At breakfast I said, “Tomorrow I want a pillow that’s softer than the mattress.” Last night I got my wish. The pillow was just as hard as the previous night, but the mattress was like a slab of slate. The pillow was indeed the softer of the two.
Our two porters are college kids on break. They are from my guide Mahesh’s village, so they are known and trusted. They were shy the first day or so, but that has changed now. We’ve talked about their struggles in life, and I ask and prod, pushing the edge of what is in this culture possible to talk honestly about including their dreams and possible futures. Continue reading The Kids: Poon Hill
Having these two highly trained and skilled carvers working with us at the studio/warehouse is a dream come true for me. It is a dream I have had for over fifteen years. I have collected ideas, made drawings, and found photographs for even longer than that, hoping someday to find someone who could to bring these ideas to life. Continue reading The New Carvers at the Warehouse
Mind’s Questions: What am I doing here in Nepal trekking again? Did I forget the pain, discomfort and fear? Why would anyone do this? Continue reading Trek Again? Are You Crazy?
Trekking in the off-the-grid Himalayas in the Kingdom of Mustang was all that I’d imagined and much, much more. The land was shockingly beautiful at every turn, the people endlessly sweet, the villages simple and incredibly photogenic, and the trekking itself was often incredibly hard, testing my physical and psychological limits for hours at a time. Fortunately I had no altitude sickness, even though the higher passes at the 13,800’ level took every ounce of strength and determination I could muster. The air’s a might thin up there. Within minutes of crossing each of a multitude of passes, I was happy to hike on, as if no trial ever existed. Pain is fast forgotten in the face of such beauty, joy, and a powerful sense of accomplishment. Most of the trek was a matter of living in the present, where neither past nor future exist. It was a joy to be off the grid, free and filled with simple happiness, away from everyday life’s thoughts and obsessions. That joy grew day by day, as the world I once knew receded and the now became the all. Continue reading Overview: Mustang
The pilgrimage place, Muktinath, is a place of cleansing, a place of washing away misdeeds of the past. I do see the value of intelligence of this idea: complete the past, look at what we’ve done, possibly learn from it, and start fresh. That’s good. Continue reading Muktinath Revisited: Re-thinking My Irreverent, Politically Incorrect Diatribe
Pokhara’s airport security system does exist, evidenced by an x-ray machine with a moving belt. We put our duffel bags in one end and they came out the other end, just as expected, but there is no one at the monitor to look for bad stuff. The x-ray guy was apparently loading bags on the plane. Not our problem. Continue reading Security Check
Our return to the monks’ chanting this morning was as gentle as it was enlightening. While sitting with them for a couple hours, we were given simple red bowls filled with tea which was refilled often, keeping our hands and bodies warm. It was a sweet surprise to be included in this way as one of the monks. Again, the world disappeared, replaced by a sacred space, complete with clashes of symbols, the varied tones of the different horns, and the deeply resonant incantation of the monks. Continue reading Trek Day VII, Monk Chants
A dog was barking much of the night. I dreamed of making dog soup from that little monster. I knew which dog was barking. It was a puppy tied up all alone, afraid, or whatever puppies feel in an empty courtyard alone at night. My compassion was non-existent for a barking, lonely dog at 2:30am. The next morning, in the puppy’s courtyard was a freshly slaughtered white goat. No blood anywhere, but the relocated head was sitting on the ground looking toward the body. The chopping block sat on the ground nearby, surrounded by five or six local guys anticipating a feast, no doubt. Goat soup, not dog soup. Damn! The dog will be barking again tonight. Continue reading Trek Day VI, Lomanthang