Some of the many aspects that stood out in our guide in Chengdu’s story include that at a very young age she was sent by her mother over the Himalaya on foot with a group of strangers to reach Nepal. Then the Nepalese sent her to school in India. This is why her mother sent her – for education and opportunity. Her mother had to wait 6 years for a passport to be able to travel to India to visit all while having no contact with her young daughter. Eventually, they were able to see each other more often. When our guide decided to return home at 17, she was identified as someone who had escaped, her name was put on a blacklist and she was out in jail for two months. She ended her story by expressing how lucky she and the group that she traveled with was as no one does in an avalanche or lost a limb to frostbite. The mention of luck came as a surprise to me and will likely encourage our group to gain a new perspective as we continue to meet new people and hear new stories.
As for today:
We got to meet more people that we will work with these next few weeks including Tenpa who will be our guide for the more rural areas of our trip. We split into two groups for our drive to Kangding. In my car was Alexa, Eva, Chesley, and Ainsley. We spent the four-hour drive playing I-Spy, 20 questions and continuing to get to know each other. We made a quick stop to drop our bags in the Happy Hostel and then walked to lunch for a delicious family-style Tibetan meal of rice, pork, tofu, and veggie dishes all of varying spices and flavors. Our evening plan was to walk around Old Kangding and watch and participate in traditional Tibetan dancing but the rain caused the event to be canceled. We ended up at a noodle house for dinner. There we got to engage with a local toddler who was very brave to approach our table. Even though we spoke different languages, we were still able to make her laugh and, of course, play the universal game of peek-a-boo!