Nepalese Notebook: September 13th, 2014

September 13th, 2014

Upper Jagat 1340m.

The country people are remarkable for their stature and muscle though none of them are very tall.  A boy of no more than 8 or 9 years old came up the trail today carrying a bag of damp sand from the river bottom; it must have been at least 50 pounds and as tall as him because he had to bend over with the tumpline almost perpendicular to the ground to be able to move forward.  Further down we saw the father and another boy filling up more bags to be taken in turn, and these, as we found out, were for house-constructing and repairs.  A woman in the village before, where we stopped for refreshments, spoke in a rather lively tone of voice about how she wanted to have 12 children with her husband, already had 3, and was pushing 31 years old.
After we passed the hot springs of Tatopani where we cleansed our hair and face, the more prevalent signs of Tibetan culture began to appear, most notably the women wearing vibrantly coloured aprons of knitted wool.  From Yaruphant, the valley opened up into a magnificent floodplain, and for the first time, seemed to show the great power and breadth of the Himalayas, though mostly cut off by low clouds.  Upon our arrival to Jagat there was something rather striking and unexpected: a dilapidated village gate stood impressively brandishing the signs of the Communist army that once controlled the area.  This region, being at one time strategically important, is a direct link to Tibet and China, and formerly was the scene of a fair amount of guerrilla warfare. 
The bridges have become more rickety as we advance, most of them constructed with rusty chain-link fence and damaged wood; flat rock had been put over most of the holes so the donkeys don't fall through or break a leg.  The weather remains humid, overcast, and tiring.

Douglas Thornton


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