I almost died going to Spiti valley last year. 

Dehydration, food poisoning, and altitude sickness are dangerous combinations. 

I made it through, though, so this year I decided to give it another try and see if my body could retake the endeavor. It did, and I’m here to tell you about it.  

Spiti valley is in the northern part of India. Imagine being in Tibet without actually being in Tibet. The high mountains are dry and glorious, reaching up to 5000 meters above sea level (about 16400 feet). They remind me of the Arizona desert, except much more dehydrated and with more goats roaming around. 

The temperature can, and will, reach up to 35 degrees C (95 F) during the day and minus 5C (23F) at night. No amount of water can make you sweat, and your skin dries in a matter of seconds. Hot water is hard to find unless it is heated by the sun, in which case the best time to wash is around four pm. Electricity is not always available due to power cuts. Strangely, though, the wifi connection is the best I have had in a while.

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Buddhist monasteries are everywhere. All you have to do is look around and see the typical white structure with prayer flags flying in the hot wind. Also, some ancient ones like the one in the image make the trip oh. so. worth. it. You need to be very strong inside as well as outside to handle it here, and I don’t know how humans can manage to live in such conditions during the winter when the temperature can reach -40 C (- 40F) 

The road to Kaza is windy, unpaved, and dusty. The high mountain on one side, precipice on the other. No guardrail. You could be driving for hours before running into another vehicle; when that happens, there is an unspoken camaraderie between the eyes of the driver going and the one coming in the opposite direction. The silent comments, you too are here, huh? We are crazy, huh? 

Goats run freely, and so do wild horses. There are very few dogs, usually left in charge of cows. No monkeys, which is surprising for India. Do you know what is never missing? Silence. If you shut the car’s engine, you hear nothing, maybe the occasional bird. The nights are dark, with no street lights, illuminated only by the many stars. 

If you don’t know me, you don’t know that I am a grateful person. I appreciate all that I have and what I don’t so. much. and yet being in this remote part of the world took me to a whole new dimension on what to be thankful for.

I stayed in a tent ( I hate camping) because it was by the river, and the two huskies I traveled with, I am sure, appreciated putting their paws in the cold water. In the end, it’s the little things that make us enjoy life, like a soft bed to rest your tired body, fresh towels, sheets no one has slept in before, being able to brush your teeth, and food. Fresh foods, in particular, because there is only so much rice and lentils one can eat. 

I keep finding out that life is straightforward, and we humans tend to complicate it. Perhaps if we think more often that everything is temporary, nothing lasts, not even this moment of joy or discomfort, happiness, or grief, we begin to see it differently. Maybe we would complain less about things that have little meaning in the long run.

Just for a moment, let’s remember the obvious,

 We are all going to die. What we do with the blessed years we are given is up to us. Life has not promised us anything. You get to make it what you want. You can let the time pass wishing you did this, went there, started that one project, said that one thing or you could go and do it. The choice is yours. 

A friendly reminder, though, time is running out. What are you waiting for?

Time is running out 3

PS: Here is a picture of me sitting on a rock by the Chandratal lake, where Yudhisthira, the first of the Pandava brothers(I love Hindu mythology), took his final bath before entering heaven. I did not want these words to skip my mind, so I took my computer out and started writing. 

 

Thanks for reading. ❤️