April 30: Sanctuary Lodge, Birethanti, Nepal; 93 degree

A knock on the door at 5:45am and a gentle call to see the sunrise was the beginning of a beautiful day. Just off the horizon is the large mountain "Fish Tail" or Machha Punchhre and the sun was turning it from a white snow covered peak to a gold crown kissing the skyline. With each passing minute the mountain turned more and more majestic. Each one of us stood with camera in hand totally forgetting that we were just aroused from bed, still half asleep and in sleep ware. And so begins the day!

After a hearty breakfast it is off up the mountain trail for our hike of the day. The sky is clear and the air just beginning to warm. The birds are singing in full volume as to welcome us to the Annapurna Trek. The pathway this morning was full of school children making their way either down the mountain to the private school an hour away or up to the next village to the public school. Their uniform gives them away as to which school they belong. The angelic faces are too hard to ignore as each of us tried every few feet to capture a picture or two of the children. Also sharing the way are the general population going off to the field or to market or down to the valley to work. The pictures tell the story better of what we saw -- life up here is so much simpler and calmer. The health is better -- the people are happier -- a divine paradise.

But for every wonderful element of the simpler life, there is the hardships. Women can be found sitting in front of their homes picking lice out of the children's heads; toilets are outhouses along side the road, and homes corrugated metal and wood. But again -- it seems as if only the westerner walking by is bothered by this!

Our hike today took us up the mountain side through a couple of small villages. In one we were invited into a home to learn some of the "everyday" customs -- how to weave, make "moonshine", mill grain, cook, etc. A visit to a tea house (a trekker's hotel) for a mid morning break gave us a beautiful vista of the gorge from below that we were ascending.

After several hours we turned back toward the lodge descending by a different pathway through the fields of rice and corn. The steep hillsides of the gorge are terraced to accommodate the crops. Several times we were made to step aside because of a passing herd of donkeys or water buffalo! While the cow and oxen are protected,, the water buffalo ( the source of the milk) can be killed and eaten. However the primary diet consists of millet and vegetables. Eggs and meat are very expensive as is rice, so few families of the mountains indulge.

Lunch is served and then siesta to keep us out of the afternoon heat . Late afternoon it is off to another hike to see some more of the area. This hike started at 4pm to avoid the height of the afternoon heat. Today's temperature is hovering around 95 degrees at noon, and none of us were keen on hiking during the early afternoon. Leaving the lodge and heading out of town we pass through the small village that houses those who serve us each day. Simple places with their water buffalo sleeping under the "carport" roof and the inhabitants resting in the shade. A quick "namaste" and a wave and we walk on by. Once again we head out over the countryside slow ascending up out of the valley. Each vista becomes more beautiful than the next. This walk is to be just a short one to the next village -- another view of the life in rural Nepal. The trail narrows in spots, rocky with flagstone steps carved into the side of the slope. The land has been terraced for many generations with field of rice, corn and vegetables.

The hike brought us back to where we started but once again with a full exposure to the "real" life of the rural world of Nepal.

As we reentered our base camp compound we were met with fresh lemonade and a rest on the veranda. Tea arrived at 4:30 sharp!!

Tonight we learned more about what was going on in Kathmandu and the Maoist protest. They were trying to attempt to shut the entire country down until the current government resigned. Our guide keeps trying to reassure us that they won't hurt the tourists or detain us. Most of us now are hoping that if we are detained that it happens while we are here in this sanctuary! None of us are interested in spending much time in Kathmandu.




We're Off!

The View

Woman Weeding the Corn Field

Sharing the Road Through Town

Public Wayside!

And Another

Local Telephone Company's Latest Model!

Local Woman

Local Villager

Old Woman Washing the Dishes

Off To School - Down The Mountain!

Hedy,Susan, & Dave

A Day's Trip Up the Mountain With Supplies

A Load of Rocks!!!

Stacking the Hay

Sharing the Road

Over the River and Through The Woods!

An Angel

Home Again!!