Entering India again brought us a joy: electricity.
To have finished with the continuous electric cuts supposed and promised peaceful nights under the fan, tasty hours were to come, and we would even have an extra: access to drink cold in the warmest hours of the day. So it was.
We crossed to Rishikes (located at the foot of the first mountains that marked the beginning of the ascent to the Himalayas) as two beasts, by tightening the quadriceps and the bull, and doing one hundred kms a dayly. A new ride through India only caused us the desire to get out of it, again that India which is out of the tourist bubbles… it was harder than to climb the mount Everest..
It was hard starting to ride uphill again after a month and a half stuck in Kathmandu. In the nepali Terai plain legs had returned to remember rolling and rolling, but now… now came the good news: the slopes were long and the average daily kms fell much in the first days, until gradually the mind, and the musclesgot used to the mountain. Mountains that are… another world.
Politically the same name: India, but… really… another country, other people, culture, religion, clothing, language, food and the best thing: another way of understanding the world, life, dealing with each other… treat the traveller… ufff!!… we said while ascending… no one knew our secret:it was not because the cilmbing, it was just relief.
We decided to cross the mountains by remote roads which helped us to skipp the heat and traffic.
The route was hard but quiet, and was also much more beautiful (it happens when you take the risk..sometimes comes out frog but other… prince). Before we began the descent into the Valley we recieve a gift: the snow peaks.
New views of the Himalayas appeared on the horizon for us: the promised land.
We finally entered the Kinnaur Valley after a long descent.
(Rescued from the daiary): “Encounters on the road are transformed and people is friendly and smily, polite and glad to greet you when passing, and I, as a woman, I am finally free to be without having to hide myself, relaxed when a man approaches, thus sees me like sees to Aitor: person first, woman after.”
Ufff!! more snorts of happiness and lot of pressure relieved.
The first Buddhist prayer flags announce change of religion and are reason for celebration and joy for us: we play the horns of the bikes, we laugh and celebrate the change and everything, all what that it means. We discovered that this valley is an area in which both religions mingle, Hinduism and Buddhism: symbols, forms of prayer and rituals have mutual seeds and become in a curious re-mix.
We ascend the Valley always with the Satluj River below us, which, always contrary to our advance, goes down with a force that made us stop and look at it, something worth seeing, making its way between the rocks, moving forward as in a fight, rolling, overcoming everything in its path. Force.
The people of the Valley reminds us more to the Nepalese than to Tibetans or Hindus and it is that, as we are told, this area was Nepal, Sikkim and also India took it years ago.
Always move with constant climb on a road that makes us to ask ourselves a couple of things at every moment:
“How is possible to have done this road here?” and something else: “will we get out of this save?”
We couldn´t believe where and how, the road is made: a channel made in a huge vertical wall, where the risk of falling stones is very high. Every little bit we find holes made by the falling rocks, and there was no more lift the eyes, to see the huge cracked rocks waiting for the moment of falling.
A question of luck, no more and… we had it.
The Kinnaur Valley has been like a door: from India to the Himalayas, from the green lands to the desertic heights that appear when we ascend, (as we were doing little by little) until more than 3000 m of altitude. Gate of Tibet, door to amazing landscapes, places and people that we like both the most.
To look at the map and to see what we have ahead, caused us enthusiasm, excitement and joy.
Thus we enter in the Spity Valley, one of the places more interesting and beautiful in the entire trip (Yes, the whole trip). Spity opened in front of us and literally made us to fell like two small flea perched in a huge world. Greatness and landscapes of incredible breadth and huge distances… a breathtaking desert where just seems to sound the wind.
Ancient monasteries will transport you in time to get to other times. We slept in them, places of study for monks, nearby meditation caves, libraries with ancient books with more than thousand years old were before and still today those text are being recited every day.
The fact that some young monks usually speak some English is a gift. Is always nice to sit next to them; joy, peace and a fresh simplicity characterized normally these meetings and conversations. Usually they offer you a cup of traditional tea, with milk, butter, and salt.
Spity. Inspiration. This Valley is one of those places where we ride slowly, there is not possible to make many kms continuosly: we go 100 meters and then we make a stop to take a picture, other hundred and another stop to write something, other one hundred and… you have to stop to put all your senses in that landscape that suddenly, you have in front of your eyes, or the one which appeared after the curve, or the cliff, or the mountain that appear, or the amplitude, the greatness…. the intensity make you to be fully aware. Admiration.
we met an Indu anthropologist who was doing a research about the Tibetan culture of these lands. She told us, among other things, that at this time of year are women the one who work the land (in a year they harvest a crop of barley and two of peas) in this time they removehe “bad grass”.They work with scarves wound in the head in such a way that we could only see their eyes (they do it to protect themselves from the strong sun of this altitude). They start working very early in the morning until the last light of the day and some of them almost in darkness are returning home tired from the long day.
They only have few months when the climate allows them to grow the orchad so here all are working hard for after having provisions during the long and cold winter.
Men at this time are responsible for the animals and the interesting thing, is that they prepare food and bring it to the woman to the field. At noon they arrive so woman they can rests a while and eat. Man also take care of the children so it is usual to see images that in other parts of the world are so innusuales like, the man with the kids on their shoulders or washing clothes.
She (the anthropologist) also told us that the next day, in a small town nearby, there was going to be a shamanic ritual to ask for rain and abundance for the year.
We changed plans and went…
…was something unique, unforgettable, real stuff that are not made for tourists and we show the more pure and real part of their culture. We enjoyed so much and returned to the monastery getting ready mentally for the chanllenge that is to get out t of this valley: crossing the Kunzung pass 4.550 m. A pass without asphalt which was going to be just the first bit, just the begining of what awaited us fordwards….the next adventure:
the mythical Manali-Leh road with passes of many more meters 5000m wich would lead us literally to cross the Himalayas and find our way to that kingdom of the heights that with the only named it filled our soul with joy: Ladakh.