Hard farming in the high country

10 Jun

Seemingly solid rock seems to yield to the plow.

I escaped the Kathmandu valley this weekend and set out for Pokhara – renowned for quaint mountain valley lake, mountain top temples, and the gateway to Himalayan trekking.  As the bus takes off on the winding mountain highway toward the north, we begin to leave behind the city haze, and I finally get to see the country side of Nepal!  The mountains are striking, the mountain life is astounding.  We curve and careen up and up through rocky mountain passes, looking over the precipitous edge of the highway, the valleys are filled with towns, the hillsides dotted with red clay brick farm houses, and entire mountain sides terraced for farming.  It’s hard to imagine the person power involved in forming and farming terraced gardens around 5,000+ ft elevation, on slopes reaching 60 degree angles!  And some of the valleys are so dry you have to wonder what reward is reaped for all that work anyway?!

Greener valleys.
Photo credit – NOT ME – thanks E.P.!

As we approach the Pokhara valley the land becomes more verdant.

From a distance the terraces look like tiny gentle steps.  But from up close you see the scale of a farmer and his buffalo working one terrace – and you realize that ever level up is a scramble up very long rocky steps!

A lot of work on a little farm.
Photo credit – NOT ME – thanks E.P.!

In the valley rice paddies predominate.

Geometric art of rice paddies plotted out in the valley.
Photo credit – NOT ME – thanks E.P.!

But don’t go getting the idea that lowland work is easy.  People and their farm goods and supplies travel up and down between mountain homes and valley farms.  The steep hillsides are decorated with ribbons of stone steps leading into the sky.

Up up up up up up…
Photo credit – NOT ME – thanks E.P.!

While I pudder up and down the steps, trying not to slip or fall – in my high traction, ankle supporting hiking boots – little old ladies wearing flip flops saunter up the mountain side carrying heavy loads from their farm fields below.  These women greet us, “Namaste”, and giggle at the sweat on our brows as they pass us by on the trail!

Oh – the ways in which these old ladies could kick my butt!
Photo credit – NOT ME – thanks E.P.!

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