Sunday, June 3, 2012

Kailash Kora-ed, Hallalujah!

1. From where we came
On our third dawn, after another night of coughing and clearing my throat which has been a problem during this entire safari, and at my usual hour to beat the crowds to the outhouse, I stepped out of the warm cocoon I was in, and into snow. SNOW! How'd that happen? Tashee told us we had been so blessed because often snow blankets the pass we just conquered and people are stuck there or on the other side for days. Thank you God.

Well, I slid over the ice stream that stood between me and my destination, and finally made it back to a rising crew. Jim took my pulse and also listen to my lungs to see if I was seriously congested. I told him I'd spent most nights like this but I'm always alone so no one hears me. But he thinks it's just post-nasal drip that's gone extreme with the dirt, smoke, high altitude, and so forth.

2. One victor and two saviors
We still had a haul before us to get to the pickup place, the end of the Kora, called Trungto. Crowded around a thermos of hot water - which I was able to pour into a bowl and wash my face with soap I had wisely brought with me - and then brush the teeth outside standing anywhere, using bottled water as the washer - Gad. Is this me?? - we got some energy in us - (Last night Tashee had made noodles in a delicious broth of Chinese vinegar and soy sauce, with a couple of leaves of Chinese cabbage dumped in it -this is a keeper).

3. Our Yak
At last my pony appeared at our door. I noticed he favored his left hind foot. I pointed. But no one got my gist. So I piled on and wrapped the fur skirt around my legs.It was COLD. Wind blowing. Snow spotting. And I got everyone revved up to get on the road. We were one of the earliest groups to leave. I wanted to get this thing over with. Jim kept saying, Good Job. I kept saying, what a coward I am. I don't feel I've accomplished anything. I guess I thought I'd sprout some sort of angel wings, or something. Instead, I realized I have a long ways to go yet.

4. A Tibetan pilgrim
As we took off with a few of the yellows and a few of the reds already starting, my pony sort of hooked up with his pal pony. I noticed during this trip, he always whinnies when he sees distant ponies. But none answer back nor do you hear any of them whinnying. But now he was quiet and keeping his nose sort of on the left hip of his friend, he seemed content to move with out much encouragement. Meanwhile I'm dealing with soreness in my legs, hips and shoulders (I tend to lift my shoulders when I'm riding horses) and trying to find the most comfortable position.

5. Day 3 Pilgrims
I had been told that this last part was flat - easy - no problem. Ha. First of all we had about three steep climbs to make - divided by some downs and flatlands. We were going along beside a rapidly running river. Then we had a extremely steep incline which put the ponies to test again and at the top, all of the riders were told to dismount. What? There were blue signs in Chinese (obviously we couldn't read those) which I think said it was too dangerous for the ponies to do the descent. At last, someone paying attention. My pony was already lame. I could see it in his limp.

So that was it, folks. The ride ended before the Kora walk ended and there was about a half hour more to our destination. I grabbed my sticks and set out at a pace my grandchildren called, "a Nana's walk." Jim said, "You better slow down." I said, as snow dropped and the wind whistled, I see the finish line. I felt like Martin Luther King's "I see the mountain top." And I got a strong gush of gusto to get this misery over with before my whole body collapsed. And as we round one of the curves, there were our two Toyota land cruisers waiting. Hallelujah.

6. Down down I come.
After a quick photo at the finishing line (for tourists - most Tibetans continue the walk back to Danshen to get the deserved credit. I leaped in the car where there was a comfortable seat and some warmth. We had to wait, of course, til the Yaks arrived with our bags. We were surprisingly early - that old saying about who gets the worm. But we sat there after cars and trucks in numbers rolled up, undressed the Yaks with their clients gear, and drove off. Our yak guy was taking his time. People were hugging and kissing and snapping photos and raising hands in prayer to whatever god they support, and I guess somewhere champagne flowed - if someone had thought to bring it. I just owed my life to Tashee, Nema and his wife - and of course Jim who had faith I could do it.

7. Prostrating pilgrims.
Me? I was just tired, glad to be done, and having dreams of a shower. However, the only shower in town is a public one and with the crowds of people here, impossible. So I did my wash in a silver bowl with boiling water from a giant thermos. In my room, freezing as it is. It's so cold I had to snuggle up to my Mac Air to get it warm. Really.

8. Nana and the pony puller.
Danchen is filled with military and police with huge vans and trucks because tomorrow is the enormous celebration called Saga Dawa. It's when a huge flag poll swamped with prayer flags is taken down and all the old prayer flags are removed and the new ones are put on and then the pole is raised high again and must obtained straightness. There are rumors of problems because thousands of Tibetans flow to this annual event on the full moon of June. Tourists will probably not be allowed to attend. If this is the case, we are on the road back to Nepal - about a two day-two night journey over, praise the Lord, paved roads.

9. Nana at the end.

10. What a ride.



glad it is another done deal!
Hope cough goes away quickly.
Safe return .
Hugs and blessings and thanks for the end of the journey,

Chuck said...

You are a remarkable person. Congratulations on reaching the mountaintop.

I hope your trip home is safe and comfortable.

See you in Memphis.

Chuck Weirich

Anonymous said...

Godspeed good friend.


Mary Cerniway said...

You did it! That's my girl!