DAY TWO: DHUNCHE VILLAGE

Morning found us alive and listening to a distant predawn chant of OM MANI PADME HUM (the Tibetan’s favorite mantra) coming from somewhere in the mountains around us. It was atmospheric and set the tone for the day.  Soon we were out looking for our breakfast of chia and biscuits to get ready for the trail.

I loved that simple Dhunche Village for it’s colorful Sherpa people in their peaceful eyes. We shot some pictures of a local girl in purple and her small brother wearing a vest and lungi (wrap around cloth for pants).

Dhunche was a place that was removed from time. Rock houses with wood plank doors held and air of ancientness that my modern world could not ever offer. It felt calming to be there and elemental. Sun, wind, clouds were all immediate and right next to you. I was inspired. Despite the lack of sleep and thin air I felt euphoric.

The village was build on the side of a fairly steep hillside. At the edge of the village we found the source of the chanting. A simple Tibetan Temple was located on an outcrop of rock in a plain wood plank building. Not wanting to intrude, but deeply intrigued we sheepishly entered. Inside was a full compliment of 20 or so maroon robed, shaved head Tibetan Monks.

When we entered the Temple, the Monks were chanting a deep throaty base indiscernible mantra while clanging large symbols, banging drums, rattling Damarus (small meditation drums), and ringing bells. It was a cacophony of chaotic sound. It was also magnificent. Here I was, in a authentic shrine room witnessing a tradition that has evolved a thousand years before I was born in the bosom of Tibet. We watched silently and then gracefully retreated. What a good omen to begin the journey!

Now (grunt) we have to start climbing. It began easily enough. A nondescript grassy path at the back side of Dhunche wound it’s way upward past picturesque small stone farm houses and sculpted rice patties. A village woman stopped to admire Kirsten’s pink raw silk shawl saying: “Ramro” (beautiful). A couple of young boys were hanging out on path. One boy was a smiling maroon clad apprentice Monk and the other a frowning ragged village kid. That was enough to try Buddhism right there and then.

Before long we discovered a large disparity in the map. None of the local recognized the village names when we ask directions. It appeared that there were many different names for the villages ahead. Each tribe seemed to have a different name for each area and nobody had ever heard of the name on our map. Our first day and we were already at a loss as to which way to go. We proceed on with a feeling of confused amusement.

Next, our trail abruptly ended at a rock slide. With no trail at all we really had to take a pause for intuitive reflection. It’s funny, but at that moment I realized I wasn’t really going anywhere. I was just Being in the Himalayas. The trek was more or less to BE in the Himalayas, so no matter which way we went we would BE in the Himalayas and hopefully find food and shelter.

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