old unpublished report: Zuzka and Karolina before they left Kargyak
Probably our last report from Kargyak. Leaving to civilization is getting closer and closer so we would like to share our last experiences and feelings from Kargyak with you. When reading this report we will be already travelling somewhere else in the world. The atmosphere in Kargyak is a little bit tense now because Kargyak fathers haven’t delivered the yak dunk to school yet. It is the only fee that they have to pay to support the school. Now, when snow finally came and temperature is falling under minus 20 degrees, we really need yak dunk to heat up the stove and make school warm. We still hope that we will somehow get the yak dunk from villagers.
Maybe it is also because of the snow and cold that the wild animals get closer to the village. They don’t have enough food up in the mountains so that’s why they come very near to human settlements. Children from Chi saw a wolf on the way to school! Fox is a regular visitor of our bio-fireplace and it is cheekier every day. It walked just in front of our windows today. I think we will never forget today’s air attack of birds of prey! I have never seen such a huge bird before and much less in the open nature. We had to check a poster with lokal animals in one of our classes. We found out that it was lammergeyer which is the biggest vulture in the whole Eurasia. The three of them perched here and circled around Kargyak for about two hours. We hope they brought some good news with them.
Before the end of the year we finally opened the kindergarten classes in Chi so each of us goes there once a week to teach little children who should become regular students of Sun School after winter. Now it’s too cold for them to walk every day to Kargyak. Villagers from Chi arranged a tiny room with stove and basic equipment for teaching. When the weather is nice these trips to Chi are very fine and good for change.
The end of our calendar year almost matched the same time like local Losar, which is the Buddhist’s New Year. Losar is a huge event in Zanskar and all villages are full of live and people celebrate everywhere. Villagers and children at school had “a Losar fever” already few weeks before Losar. The atmosphere here is very similar to what we know as Christmas time in the Czech Republic. The feast lasts for about one week. The villagers visited each other, have a lot of parties, there is plenty of chang in each house and everybody eats meat, which is not so common here. We nnounced holiday time at school so everybody could enjoy Losar as much as possible. Villagers invited us for dinners and parties every day. One day we went to Chi village to see Losar celebration there because our kids told us that it is much nicer there. And they were right. In Kargyak, it is always just two or three families celebrating together but in Chi it was really almost the whole village. They wore traditional clothes and had a performance of traditional dances. Two villagers wore masks and ladies’ clothes and they did a great show. It was lovely to see it. We had the feeling that this is a real celebration of the New Year the way it should look like. Kargyak celebration seemed to be more private and with no traditions. When we asked why it is so, the villagers told us that they are closer to the holy mountain Gomporanjon and it means they have a stronger god here and he doesn’t like the celebrations. Anyway, the Losar atmosphere was very nice in Kargyak as well. We also had a visitor at Losar time. Someone we did not expect at the end of December - our countryman Rene who comes to Zanskar every year to stay for about two months in the Buddhists temple in Phuktal. He meditates and learns from the monks there. So he came to visit us for a while and after a few days he went back to the temple. Because we had holiday and Zuza had had no chance to get anywhere outside the area since she arrived here, she went with Rene to Phuktal. She was very excited about her trip because Phuktal is really a stunning place. It is a temple that grows from the rock very high above the river. Monumental construction. On the way back, Zuza also became a life saver. A father of one of our children drank a lot of chang in the next village. On the way back home when he already got close to his house he fell asleep in the middle of a field. With upcoming night and falling temperature it was quite a dangerous idea that could cost him his life. It was impossible to wake the father up so Zuza had to run to the nearest village and find help. He was very lucky and now he is completely ok.
After Zuza came back, it was the end of the holiday so we started to repeat curriculum with children at school because of upcoming tests. It was just a small test and we were quite surprised with the results at English. We are finally leaving Kargyak with the feeling that we taught the kids something!As I wrote before our time here is getting shorter and shorter. Blanka and Libor are already in Leh waiting for Chadar river to get frozen. When they reach Kargyak to change with us is still a big question as the date is shifted almost every day. We expected them to arrive already two weeks ago but instead they are still in Leh. On one hand, we are looking forward to new adventures but on the other hand our time here passed so quickly and we will miss the calm of the Himalayas and happiness in the children’s eyes so much!