Day 11 – May 28, 2006
This morning Jinpa and I walked over to Aru Tso. We left at about 10:00 a.m. and returned at about 1:30 p.m. I was exhausted. Everything is so much more work at this altitude. I don’t know how Rick Ridgeway and the others managed to pull those carts. [One secret is that they do not live at 800 feet altitude. Heinrich has few problems with the altitude because he lives in the Swiss Alps.] …We saw the domestic yaks, many little lizards, and some wild ducks, but no larger wild animals. The lake is deep blue, Jinpa says a bit salty, and very large. …
On the way back Jinpa visited with a nomad herding yak on a motorcycle. When we came to his place we stopped.
He lives there with his wife, his sister, and a seven-month-old baby. The inside of their brick home is quite interesting. The walls are lined with fabric. There’s a shelf at one end lined with yak butter lamps–a few were lit. There were two couches facing each other. At the end of the building opposite the yak butter lamps hung many hanks of dried yak mean. He offered us some and Jinpa cut me off a few pieces. It doesn’t have a strong flavor. The mother fed the baby while we were there. Same sound world over. The baby was bare-bottomed. With so little water how would one clean diapers?
Jinpa has a 20-day old son. He called his wife from Gertse and she said everything was ok. He is a wonderful guide, seems to have the kind of personality who [sic] gets along well with everyone, nomads, guards, restaurant people, garage people.
Tomorrow we move our tents to another location. Perhaps we will see wild animals there. …
It’s been windy all day. We went on a little drive about 4:00 p.m. and it started to snow, snowed almost all the while we were gone. Now at 6:00, the sun is shining at our campsite and it’s windy, also very dusty.
I have an uneasy feeling that I should be doing more than I am, but I don’t know what that would be. Perhaps that’s the challenge of the Chang Tang, to be ok with not doing too much. It’s very hard for me not to have a list and cross things off the list.
I also did not realize how homesick I would be, how much I would miss our routines and our house. Perhaps that is some good lesson, too, that I will not take them for granted again.
Mentioning Jinpa in this entry reminds me of his recent email. His son Tenzin, 20 days old when we were walking to Aru Tso, is now 6, writes some words in both Chinese and Tibetan. Jinpa himself says he is still doing tour guiding and trying to organize a few groups. I know him to be a wonderful guide.