I had a dream two nights ago that involved me waking up in the middle of the night, wandering outside, hijacking Dokgun's car, and navigating the bumpy streets of Darlag, desperate to find a Walmart so I could buy popcorn. It was so vivid that I swear I could almost smell the musty plastic of American's favorite corporation (at least it's better than AIG) and I woke up wondering if any of it was true. I'm pretty sure that popcorn will be my first American purchase once I've stepped foot in JFK in a month. After I use a real sit-down toilet.
We are well-past the halfway mark of my stay in Tibet, and time has flown. If time is tangible, then I'm blaming the wind for how quickly these weeks and days have gone. Since it is not tangible, then I blame the wonderful and unique personalities of the people here who have given time wings.
A big thanks to Lynn Hasselberger and I Count For my Earth, an organization dedicated to inspiring dialogue between kids and families about their environmental impact. Lynn has generously agreed to donate 10% of purchases from her website (http://www.myearth360.com) to the home here in Tibet if the buyer enters code "Geneva" at check out.
Lynn's website has fantastic, earth-friendly home products and you can serve two great causes at the same time by shopping there! You can also follow Lynn on Twitter @icount4myearth.
I was sitting outside on the steps last week, enjoying the sun and the company of the girls at lunchtime, when I heard the most pathetic yelping and whining coming from the direction of the front gate. It was the sound of a puppy, and I looked around to see if anyone else was worried by how miserable this invisible little dog sounded. No one moved. I started in the direction of the gate, worried that I might find a puppy in pain, or maybe an angry older dog, but instead I rounded the side of the house to see several adult Tibetans standing and staring at a dirty bundle of fur who was tied on a 2 foot string to a heavy piece of debris. The puppy was tugging and pulling on his rope, trying desperately to escape the choke-hold of the ratty string while under the apathetic stares of his onlookers.
I went over and offered him my hand before loosening the string embedded in the puppy flesh around his neck, and he calmed down, finally sitting down next to me while I chatted the little guy up. Meanwhile, the Tibetans watching gave me the most incredulous looks, akin to the response I would expect in America if I walked up to a raccoon and asked if he wanted to be friends. Whatever, the puppy and I get along so it's a match made in heaven as far as I'm concerned.
On Sunday, April 26, we hiked a nearby mountain to erect new prayer flags. This was quite an event for me and the girls to participate in, because the Tibetan culture never allows women to approach, much less erect, the prayer flags on the mountains. Because Dockpo's family owns this particular mountain (a gift to his father from a nomad family), Dockpo is able to bring the girls up the mountain as well. It was a beautiful, meaningful, and exhausting day. There are two full albums of pictures on Facebook and I encourage you to check them out!
The climb itself was fine; I am fully recovered from my illness, so I felt almost no effects of the altitude and was able to enjoy the ever-increasing view of Darlag, the mountains, and the Yellow River in the next valley as we drew closer and closer to the sky. Once at the summit, we enjoyed periods of intense, perfect sunlight, followed by harsh storm clouds and heavy hail. Rinse and repeat.
When the wind became so intense several hours later that the smaller girls were finding it hard to remain standing, I took them back down the mountain, supporting Niemkah Dorma, one of the girls who was feeling the altitude and had fallen, hitting her head on a rock. We'll finish the prayer flags next week, and I cannot wait to go back up.