“Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.”
Today was an absolutely beautiful ride, around every corner was a new snowy peak, or a view into the valley.
I love this section (Spiti valley) as it is very similar to Ladakh. The mountains are enormous and the culture is Tibetan, which means the people are extremely friendly and hospitable.
This was the first section since the town of Manali (a week ago) with permanent residence throughout the year. Though I miss the one lonely dhaba in the middle of nowhere, it was interesting to see the beautiful houses in small villages along the way.
I also enjoyed these little stone huts. These people are obviously all farmers, as there were cows and donkeys, as well as farm land, surrounding all of these homes.
The best part about the high altitude (I haven’t been below 4,000m yet) are the yaks! The females (which have a different name) are used for milk then cheese, but the males are used for work. These huge animals, which can weigh twice as much as a buffalo, are used to transport people during the winter after the villages are snowed in, especially if someone is sick or hurt. In the spring, they are used for farming, and then for the summer they are let loose. After a few months of freedom, their owners make the journey to track them down and bring them back to the village (I met three men on their yak mission at the lake I stayed at a few nights ago).
In the evening I arrived in one of these small villages with about a dozen or two houses. I asked a friendly looking lady with children if it was alright if I camped across from the village, and she immediately invited me in and told me I could stay at her place. I ended up spending two wonderful nights in their home.
Every house has cow patties drying outside which are then used for fire and to wash dishes (yup, that’s right, dishes here are washed with poo).
The lady spoke a little English (she seemed to be the only one in the village who did) so I was able to talk with her, though I spent most of my time with their four year old daughter. Her and her husband also have four other children, ages 11 to 18, but they are all at private schools in other villages. Though they themselves have no education, the father, who is a taxi driver, sees the importance of giving his children the chance to have a career. The small school in their village is not good, so if the children want a chance to study at a university later on, a private school is a must. Their house was the largest one I have been in, and they seem to be doing quite well for farmers. Even so, there was still no toilet, inside or out, so like most of India, we all go outdoors. There was also only occasionally electricity, though it didn’t seem to matter too much if it was working or not since no one really depended on it.
The family was very generous and invited me to eat with them every meal I was there. We had the typical rice and dal for dinner, and a delicious mutton pea soup for breakfast (which is apparently traditional in this area). We all sat on the floor and ate with our hands, two aspects of life in India I am starting to enjoy more and more. The second night I helped the women make chapati (like naan, a bread you eat with everything), and they all laughed as I struggled to make mine as perfectly round as hers. One of the evenings I also ended up attending a local meeting. This involved about twenty villagers all perched on the edge of some cliff, their apparent meeting spot, to discuss something about farming prices (I am not too sure exactly what, my knowledge of local Spiti dialect is somewhat lacking). All in all I had a lovely time staying with this wonderful Tibetan family.