Road trip and other stories

We take a van at 9:30 in the morning. One of the volunteers asks if I’ve brought a book. No, I brought a banana, a browning banana, brown from the cold and not from old age.  The car ride is 2.5 hours, but I hardly notice time passing. Hard to watch the clock with your forehead stuck to the window.

These are grandfather mountains.

We’re on our way to Bonzilon to restock on tsampa bowls (like these http://www.ymhfshangrila.com/shop.html). Next we visit a Nixi village and purchase black pottery of the hot pot variety. (If you don’t know what a hot pot is, come by for dinner, and I’ll make you one. BYOBunsen burner.)

We will sell these goods at the Handicraft Center- this is where I am living and working these seven weeks- and use the profits to support local artisans. You can read all about it (and about our bee project) on the website if you want. http://www.ymhfshangrila.com/index.html

Our Center is built in the traditional Tibetan style, so we get lots of animals wandering into the courtyard. Where we keep the Small Library, other houses keep livestock. When the cows see our front gate, they think they are home. This results in a lot of startling encounters. Most of the animals are friendly, but we have a slingshot just in case. My housemates use the slingshot to launch rocks at stray cats. It’s springtime, and the raucous tomcats cry like babies-literally, that is the sound of their song- trying to win favor with our lady cat, a Mi.

Our Small Library offers free English and Chinese classes for Tibetan locals. I am constantly realizing that being able to speak English and being able to teach it are two completely different things. How do you explain verb conjugation to a language that doesn’t bother with tenses?

My Chinese is slowly progressing. The other day I went to the supermarket to buy the bees a 50 kg bag of sugar.

“Sugar!” I said, in Chinese, “…big!” and 5 bemused employees helped me to wrestle the bag to the check-out. The taxi driver was not so impressed with the size of my purchase.

“Sugar!” I explained, “…bees!”

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