Monday, October 20, 2008

Nako to Kasza

I walked around taking photos just after six. The stone work was incredible, walls, water channels, fences, terraces, and homes. Many, many hours of hard labor. But they make it work, the little bit of water becomes the lifeblood of a village.

The women going onto the roofs early in the morning to carry in some hay for the evening when the goats will be back inside to provide heat and as a defense from the snow lepoard. Hay,dung, and firewood piled high on every rooftop to lay in against the coming winter.

They let the goats out en masse just when the sun hits the plateau. We ate our warm milk and muslix, followed by two fried eggs, sunny side up. The bikes started well and we set out.

Two kliks out of town the road turned scary. One lane talcum powder sand with road crew folks, mostly women, rolling rocks and making sand and carrying gravel that other women were making from bigger rocks using hammers with bamboo handles while you're trying not to hit them, stall your bike, slam into the mountain, or go off the 1700 foot drop on the left.

It ended with a short downhill to a water crossing on a hairpin. After that, bam, incredible India, we were back on sweet tarmac. There was a shrine about three hundred meters onto the tarmac. We gave thanks.

Shrines are everywhere you look. Try to find a peak without prayer flags on it. You can feel the love of the land here, mountain people. Pastural people, connected to the seasons in a way most of us have forgotten.

They make the most of a harsh environment. It must take a hundred acres or more to grow a goat here. Aside from the redirected water, there isn't much for grazing. They raise lots of wheat and maybe a lentil or two. Apple trees fruit if they get enough water.

The air got cooler as we rode, reaching mid-fifties, maybe. Wind cranked through the valley, picking sand from the river banks in mad tempests. We ate a breezy lunch of cashew cookies and marsla madness cheetos. Finally, we had the breakdown.

Marisa's rack fell apart. We rerigged it, strapped it, and hoped for the best. When we got to Kasza, they found a welder. He fixed Mariska and Josh's rack and Jason's foot peg for seventy Rupees. Now we're fueled up for a ride over a pass and down to a plateau full of firewood and good views.

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