When we awoke it was still raining, spattering the mud puddles of the courtyard with discouraging regularity. We couldn’t imagine another day of near hypothermia, and more hills and bad roads. But, we didn’t want to stay another day with the road workers, nice as they were, so we packed up our filthy gear and steeled ourselves for the day. By the time we were ready to go, the rain had stopped, and there was even a hint of blue over the first hill. The road workers were spot on with their description of the road ahead, a first on this trip.
We used Bob’s jacket printed with a map of the world on it to try to convey where we were from, where we’d been and where we planned to go. I have no idea if they’d ever seen a map before. It doesn’t really matter to them, their world is an isolated village along a road between two passes and 50 kilometers from the nearest town. It sounds romantic: going to sleep to the sounds of chanting and waking to the sounds of milking. But these women’s lives are a gritty existence that our culture hasn’t known for generations. Hauling wood, water, and food up the ladder to the living space, making butter and curds, grinding grain, hand washing clothes, keeping the fire going, cooking… Mundane, routine, weather-dependent, smoke-filled and layered with years of grime.
we’re eating pork now, or any kind of protein for that matter, and we eat whatever vegetables they bring us. At the grocery stores, we study and poke the packages and hope they’ll sustain us through a night of camping. Yogurt and cookies (a whole roll) is a before bed tradition of carbohydrate loading. …push a pedal stroke for us, we’ll need it; tomorrow; (tonight for you) we climb 7,000 feet to well over 15,000 feet and hope to get down in elevation to find a camping spot low enough to allow for sleep, before dark.
Life is measured best not by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away..