This past week I travelled to Simikot in the remote northwestern corner of Nepal to give a presentation at a journalism training program the Embassy sponsored. To get there required a flight to and an overnight stay in Nepalgunj, which is Nepali for "Land of Many Mosquitoes." Early the next morning (exact flight times are rarely known in advance) I flew in a 12-person plane that was at least 50 years old, based on the upholstery of the seats. It had an open cockpit, which I hate because I don't want to see what's going on in there, especially when we're about to take off and the pilot - I kid you not - attaches a Garmin device to the plane's dashboard.
|Simikot is an isolated village in Humla, one of the most remote districts in Nepal.|
|One of many such towers built to scare off evil spirits|
One of the most prevalent castes in Simikot is the Lamas; not only an ethnic group, it's also a vocation (as in the Dalai Lama). On my second morning a guide took me for a hike outside of Simikot. She explained that the people erect a series of rock towers at the edge of the villages to keep out the bad spirits. Stones with Tibetan scriptures written on them are added to the towers for extra luck.
During the hike, my guide invited me to her sister's house for some Tibetan tea. Preparing Tibetan tea is quite complicated and the end result tastes like cream of butter soup.
|Inside the kitchen of a Lama household|
It was a wonderful and informative morning. I learned a lot about how people live in the hills (I wasn't technically in the Himalayas, even though we were surrounded by snow-capped peaks). While I truly enjoyed the visit, I think living there would be difficult and, frankly, tedious. I admire the people who live there and make it work.