Our last day in Padum

Our last day in Padum, a tiny village in Zanskar, where we enjoy the comfort of infrastructure including internet and mainly the local restaurant. Tomorrow we will pack the horses and head for a three day trip through the Zanskar valley to the village of Kargyak. It all means that starting tomorrow we depend just on our own supply and the hospitality of Zanskar people. The life beyond Padum is very simple. Small villages spread in the pristine beauty of mountain landscape connected just by footpath and surrounded by many fields of barley and wheat. The walk is quite easy as it follows the Tserap river, but the altitude is still high, ranging between 3500 - 4500 m.

When we reach Kargyak, there for sure will be a big party as the villagers are so eager to hear news about their coming school. The party is usually accompanied by slaughtering a sheep and cooking and cooking for days and drinking a lot of Chang which is a local bear made from barley. So you see barley again. Barley is for Zanskaries staple food and inevitable part of every meal of the day. That is why we praise the Padum´s restaurant so much.

In Kargyak we plan to make the final measurements for The Sun School construction, confront the locals about the exact position of the sun during the winter and decide for the school site. At the same time we are going to start a summer school in an improvised parachute tent and make "Olympic" games for the kids and adults. That is going to be a part of getting to know the people and select the best ones for our Surya team.

Then there is the agriculture project and a construction of an experimental green house. Using similar technologies like in our school we will introduce to the villagers a green house construction in which they can grow leafy vegetable even in the peak of their winter. It may not sound so interesting for those who can go to any shop in any time of the year and get anything from tomato to apple, but in Kargyak even apple in summer is a great treat.

Life in Zanskar is really simple. The kids run mostly barefoot or in broken and ripped shoes. There is nice example of the differences that you notice just as you are on the spot. Once we were doing a laundry in the local freezing stream and soon we had a bunch of people gathering around, surprised and laughing at how much clothes we have. And all we had was just what we could carry in our backpacks. So they live simply, they eat simply and having all this little to posses they keep their spirits high.

It is not all so sweet and lovely after all. From our perspective there is much to improve. The people lack basic education and awareness in many spheres. They are malnourished, often sick and deprived of the privilege to share and communicate with the many tourists that pass through during the two months tracking season. So this time we will very much experiment in sharing the ideas between East and West, learning about the day to day pace of their life and deciding which is the best way to work together for a longer spend of a time.

From internet café in Padum.

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