On March 6,
2000, I left for Kathmandu, Nepal with singer/songwriter Trina Hamlin.
We performed a benefit concert for the Snow
Lion Foundation at Hotel Yak & Yeti on March 10. The SLF
is an organization responsible for looking after the education,
health and social welfare of Tibetans living in exile in Nepal.
from the High Himalayas...
a great place to be jet-lagged. Cows move slowly across the streets.
People hang out waiting for something to watch. It's dirty and beautiful
and alive and dying. There's a sense of humor and devotion about
the mix of cultures and religions that never seems to pressure or
be in conflict. I never see a Baby Gap. But I'm not there long enough.
Fading images. Mama don't take my kodachrome away...
fall in love with our little group on the four hour drive between
Kathmandu and Pokhara: Jenny (the concert promoter who brought us
there), friends from Kathmandu: Sonam (age 6) and his father Christopher,
Trina, me. Last names aren't important to those who end up in Kathmandu
I was told.
We drive the
Prithvi highway winding with the river rapids and gorges through
beautiful country and towns filled with ethnic groups I've never
heard of like Magars and Gurungs which sound like fantasy book tribes.
We sing children songs, Trina plays harmonica, Christopher knows
every lyric of every song written between 1965-1974. We arrive in
the evening and stay the night at a nice hotel where they find a
guitar and we play for Indian tourists and get rewarded with endless
liquor and food from their friend who runs the place. It's the Shangri-La,
no shit. He tells us that EmmyLou Harris and Linda Rondstadt are
coming in a few weeks.
morning the sun was shining...and I heard the click of Trina's camera
and there it is: the Himalayan range in the early morning light
outside our balcony window. We have to leave to catch the plane
into the mountains. I sit next to the flight attendant on the teeny
little plane leaving the lake town of Pokhara, and she is barefoot
and praying as we take off for Jomsom. I hold onto Sonam as we fly
through the Annapurnas landing in a town that feels like Dodge in
the 1800's. Except there's mountains around us that hint we're not
in a John Wayne film.
guide who meets us with the horses in Jomsom quickly becomes part
of this odd surrogate family unit. Angya is simply cool. We look
at some artifacts and maps in town and then we are on our way.
I ride a horse
with a name I can't pronounce for four days 10, 11, 12 thousand
feet up in the Himalayas. A wooden saddle covered with Tibetan rugs
moves on its own volition under me. He lets me go fast when I want,
and when we cross a river or hug a cliff too close for comfort,
I close my eyes, chant "om mani padme hum" and all is
by some of the tallest mountains in the world, all I hear is the
sweet endless sound of bells around the horses' and donkeys' necks
and roosters crowing. Once in a while we hear Trina's horse pass
gas, but since I am in front of her, peace prevails. We pass through
villages and stay in guest houses where we eat with trekkers from
around the world. Little children with dirt black smoke on their
hands and faces bring burning coals and set them under where we
eat. There is a skirted blanket around the long wooden tables and
we bring the heat to our beds by 8pm; there's no lights. Just the
smell of juniper and coal. And the sound of the bells.
from my Once In A Blue Moon Newsletter of May 2, 2000)