Friday, August 6, 2010

You Had To Be Here

We have started to talk as a team about blog titles - some ideas for today included "The Smell of Fresh Yak Dung in the Morning," "Words Fail Me'" (never been a problem for me), "Difficult to Describe," or "Half a Wold Away - But An E-Mail Today."  As it is - it was one of those days that you had to be here to understand the magnitude of the experience - so here is my best effort to share it with you.


We are not sure the word or words have been invented to capture the experience. 


We are staying at the Yak Hotel and started the day with breakfast on the rooftop that has a view of the Potala Palace.


Considering it is rainy season here we were thrilled to see partly cloudy skies for the day as we had planned a trek to visit some nomadic Yak herders to learn more of their culture as well as the challenges and opportunities they face.


So here is the hard part for me – how do you describe trekking in the Tibetan Mountains to 13,000 with your daughter and best friends on a glorious sun filled day.  And when you were not gasping for air or stunned in silence with the majestic beauty - you found yourself laughing with each other. Walking up narrow paths by a crystal clear stream and then finding yourself in open meadows with wild flowers – and domesticated Yak roaming freely (also resulting in numerous Yak dung piles).


Arriving at your first nomad tent you are welcomed in and served a cup of hot sweet tea and potatoes served in a basket – all prepared on a Yak dung fueled fire. 


And what do we also find in the tent – but a bottle of Coca-Cola. And while this entire experience seems a world away from the metro area - consider how small our world is and how closely we can be connected - I was able to have my picture taken in a nomad's tent holding a can of Coke and have the picture e-mailed to my friend Kirk Tyler who runs Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling - before I was off the mountain - and he received it immediately.


After visiting a couple of tents we had lunch at about 13,000 feet by a beautiful stream close to the base of the surrounding mountain range.  We proceeded back down the mountain and the entire trek took from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm. - and we all survived.


We do know that we made it to 13,000 feet; however we do not know the starting point.  We really did not care though as we felt that when you get to 13,000 feet it does not really matter at what level you started – you will still gasp for air by the time you get to your destination. 


After a quick rest at the hotel we were treated to a Tibetan dinner by our friend who funds the Lucky Star School.  There was traditional Tibetan music after dinner.  As a side note – all the members of our team are friends with Penni Kumm and it is her Birthday today – so since we could not call her – we did offer a toast in her honor at dinner.  Happy Birthday Penni!


And finally, we call these expeditions Vision Trips and as I mentioned we balance hands on support of projects with building relationships to further our vision of enhancing the lives of those less fortunate.


The day included a series of meetings with wonderful individuals we have built strong relationships with over time and it appears we will have an opportunity to make some decisions regarding some major projects in this area – a wonderful position for us.


And speaking of relationships and projects, we fly twice tomorrow to get to LiJiang where we have built relationships over the last ten years that have resulted in the opportunity and privilege to partner on significant projects that have made a positive impact on the lives of others.  We will be anxious to see our friends and continue our work.