Sunday, July 31, 2005

a post from tibet and beyond

My younger brother, Paul, and Raul are travelling through Tibet right about now. This is an email I just got from Paul this morning. He's so cute.

"hey! this is the only chance for me to email so here it is. I'm
really enjoying myself out here!

My impression is that its the old wild west out here. China is trying
to promote tourism out here and so in the more touristy areas it feels
like visiting the pennsylvania dutch. However, they are much more old
school american indian style. Nomadic herders who live out of tents.
They are completely self-sufficient, living off of the yak and each
other. They love cowboy hats and have wonderful jewelry. They
definitely have a sense of style and could almost be straight out of
an old west j. crew ad. some tibetans (just b/c there are so many
different sub groups) have these gorgeous old stone houses. These
houses would be fit for kings anywhere else. They're simple,
beautifully decorated with pigs, yak and horses roaming about in these
green, green valleys. So idyllic really that you'd think it was some
old silly hollywood romanticization. The people make it real though.
They are kind, but of course don't wash much and live very much with
the land--which didn't mean much to me until now). Sad really,
because the average tibetan child faces a tough life ahead with
hanification, poverty and disease rampant out here.

o, fashion sense. Raul brought a polaroid out here. The tibetans
love it because so few of them have really seen their own image and
fewer still have photographs. They love to pose, run and get their
most cherished possessions and worry about not having their best
clothes on for the picture. these pictures often times end up as
family folk lore for some of these people.

i did get very ill last night. between the altitude (i'm in the
himalayas where some of the passes we go over approach 20,000 ft-- the
tallest peak in the continental us is under 14,000 ft--consider also
that everest is 29,000 ft.) and the level of sanitation, its hard not
too. i'm feeling much better now though."

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