Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Welcome sign to Tal: A heartly welcome to all visitors from the CPN (Communist Party of Nepal) Maoist Committee.
Just outside the village Kani, two young Tibetan girls feed a horse on a grassy green, laughing and playing as the horse grabs grass from their bunched hands. A Kani is the entrance gate to predominantly Tibetan villages on Nepal’s Annapurna circuit. These structures help ward off evil spirits, giving those that pass through, blessings for a safe journey.
The girl’s necks are adorned with coral and turquoise, both treasured by Tibetans. Coral is a gift from the ocean and is a reminder of our eternal foundation. Turquoise is seen as the sky stone and is known for its healing properties.
A woman passes with sarong dress, a heavy colorful bag strapped across her forehead. A train of laden down horses with hollow, clinking bells pass under the white Chorton, a Buddhist shrine containing ancient relics. The two girls run away hand-in-hand leaving the horse to finish the greens from a metal pan and a water-filled bucket.
Clicking walking sticks announce the arrival of a passing tourist with quick light steps and backpack.
One of the young girls return with a walking stick, followed closely by an older girl carrying a full thatched basket on her back, later seen clearing plates at the hotel restaurant. The second girl slowly follows up with an older man using a walking stick that matches his height.
A large tourist passes with two walking sticks accompanied by two Nepalese men. One is her guide, the other her laden down porter.
The woman of the hotel holds onto a small child in football style as she places a rotating sprinkler in a garden area filled with leafy greens. Sky above is cloudy and darkened, threatening rain. The two girls run off again hand-in-hand, snot running from the nose of the smaller.
Daylight turns to twilight. Surrounding mountains cast shadows on the village. A lone pony meanders slowly, grabbing at easily reachable greens. Manaslu Peak, 8156 meters Northeast of Tal, blows in cool wind. Thunder rumbles above. A hunched over villager passes, a loaded basket strapped across the forehead. Rain commences. Sprinkler continues its rounds.
Sign across from hotel states: Multi-purpose Nursery. ACAP, Annapurna Conservation Area Project. Plastic sheet covers the greenhouse. ACAP started in 1986 to achieve balance between nature conservation and socio-economic improvement in this natural, culturally rich region.
Beyond is a group of young men setting up a corrugated metal fence to pen in their herd of goats. Intrigued by the activity, the girls run over to join them.
In the hotel kitchen, a boy hacks away at bare chicken legs, hanging them high above the wood fire for cooking. “For dinner tomorrow”, he states. A horse runs into town like a wild-west scene. Large leafy green shrubs sit behind rider. Pace unwavering as they enter town.
A distant horseman runs a smalls pony back and forth over the flat landscape surrounding Tal. Long ago this was the bottom of a lake, or Tal in Nepali. The rider states he has traveled to Malaysia for employment for four years. “Malaysia is more free country. Nepal, no free. Men free, but women not. Problem if women move around, but not for man”. He trains the small pony for discipline.
Later in day, fascination is seen in the young girls eyes when viewing a digital rerun of their twilight play.