Wednesday, August 29, 2012

From The North

In October of 1995 I hitchhiked out of Tibet to Nepal. I stood at the edge of Shigaske, the last town before the border. Most of the traffic was trucks loaded to capacity. A van stopped on the dirt road. It was heading to pick up tourists. The driver wanted $10. I gave him a ten-dollar bill and sat in the back with two other westerners on their way out of Tibet. Later that afternoon we crossed the highest pass at 16500 feet. The other passengers were unconscious from oxygen deprivation. The Tibetans were telling jokes and smoking cigarettes. I asked them to stop. This was as close as I got to Everest. I wanted to stay there forever, except my China visa was up the next day. The Tibetan driver said, "I see this every day. It's called Chomolungma or the Holy Mother." "There might be climbers on it." It was late in the season for summiting. "Koreans and Sherpas." News traveled fast on both sides of the Himalayas. He lit a cigarette and motioned for me to get back to the van. "It's a long way to the border." "Thoo jaychay." I thanked him for stopping. "Kay-Nang-Gi-Ma-Ray." We didn't stop until the border.

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