Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Himalayas

There was something surreal, almost magical, about trekking in the Himalayas. Our journey began with many hours of intensive four-wheel-driving on winding roads through rolling foothills, past villages, across crumbling pathways washed out by monsoon avalanches, and occasionally stopping for a herd of goats or stubborn water buffalo sunning himself in the middle of the road.

We began the first day of our trek in the fertile high hills with the warm midday sun warming our shoulders and the delicate beauty of Langtang peak shimmering in the distance.

As the hours and days went by we gained altitude, passing through temperate bamboo forests and into wooded alpine slopes, thick with old growth trees and hanging moss. As we climbed, lost in our own meditations, we couldn't help but marvel at the ethereal beauty of the scenery.

Eventually we left the forests behind, pushing beyond the tree line to the high plateaus, beckoned by the mountains.

It was a magical landscape, rocky and cold, where the air began to feel thinner and the fog would roll in at a moment's notice eclipsing our path, where an occasional yak would appear suddenly out of the mist to watch us go by.

As we climbed to the highest point on our trek, gasping for breath in that rarefied air, the whole world was spread out beneath us. The forbidding magnificence of the mountains, those sheer faces of ice and rock, was everywhere we turned.

Prayer flags wave in the high winds at the top of many of Nepal's hills and mountains. It is said the prayers written on them are carried away by the wind to spread peace and compassion throughout the world. I think a few of those peaceful and compassionate prayers may have caught hold of me on their way, setting my mind at rest and refreshing me in heart and spirit as I took in the all the beauty of the Himalayas.

(This photo above was taken by my very talented brother, Grady.)

Next post: On Safari

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Where I've Been

As you may have noticed, I've been on vacation from blogging for the last two months. Many thanks for your sweet comments checking in on me and for optimistically keeping me in your RSS feed!

I have been intending to post for a couple of weeks now, but there is just so much to catch up on I hardly know where to begin. The last two months have been a whirlwind of planning for travel, actually traveling, and post-travel withdrawal. The travel in question? A trip to Nepal. Or as I like to call it "the homeland." I grew up there and though I've lived in many places since, it firmly occupies the "home" spot in my heart. Even after two weeks back in New York City, I'm not sure I have the words to describe what a joy it was to be there again after many years away. So I'll let photos do the talking, starting with a few of the capital: Kathmandu.

The eyes of Buddha, Swayambunath Stupa.

Prayer flags blowing in the breeze, Thamel.

Candles lit in celebration of a holy day.

The Old City, Kathmandu Durbar Square.

Beans and lentils for sale in the market.

Two friends keep a shopkeeper company in the bead market.

A mother and son sell colored powder for the Tihar festival.

Father and son, selling flower garlands.

Looking out over the river with Pashupati Temple in the background.

A happy-looking cow kneels in a temple doorway.

Snacks for sale on the temple steps.

A sculpted lion sticks a tongue out at passersby, Swayambunath.

A woman carries a basket of greens on her back.

Goodbye, Kathmandu.
Next post: pictures from the Himalayas.