Pome - Break road
Abstract=Visit of the market and we leave again. Visit the monastery of Paka before joning the break road.
Pome . Get up late: 9h30. A last visit of the market. Olivier looks for small change. We make some provisions for an unplanned emergency if the road breaks.
We leave Pome at about midday. While descending the valley we pass Kanam where the valley of Poto starts and continue to a bridge which spans the Po tsangpo river at a place calleds Paka. With a "menda" on the road side we find a small bridge and 100m further a small monastery . The Toyota is left and the guide goes with us.
We arrive at a small Nyingmapa temple recently rebuilt where we are received by a monk and some laymen. The other monks are in displacement and we cannot visit. While going up to the first floor, we can glance inside. Paintings are recent and those in the halls are remarkably well carried out.
The monk offers us Tibetan tea and tsampa. The problem of the road break occupies all the conversations. The guide and the driver decide to join the queue, wait and if possible, try to pass with the first vehicles under the pretext that they are conducting foreign tourists. The lama also gives us an address in Showa in case we are blocked for a long time on the road. Moving too quickly, we miss the Showa junction, where there is a small chapel (lhakang) and not a monastery. There was a "menda" at the road side which indicated the place and where it was necessary to turn and take on the left the small path which goes down to the bottom of the valley where Showa extends on the two sides of the river. We still travel one or two tenth of kms before joining the long file of blocked trucks.
The guide leaves us to get more information. On his return, he decides to move and pass about fifty trucks and minibuses and place ourselves behind a group of the 5 or 6 Toyotas located at the head of the convoy right in front of the barrier. It is 16h00. News is not bad as the road might be opened at 22h00. We go up on foot along the queue of trucks. Groups are formed, open fires using three stones are heating the water for tea between the trucks. We are in the pinewoods, local wood is plentyful.
We take a trip to have a look at the road works. The mountain has the aspect of a field of gravel continuously rolling from the top up to the bottom of the ravine, dissimulating the layout of the road. The slope exceeds 45°. Experts explode packs of dynamits which shift tons of gravel on the slope and alternatively a bulldozer tries to dig a new way at mid-slope. Unfortunately it is realised that the unstable ground located above the passage which they try to remake in a few days carrys the entire road to the bottom again because the slope above the road looks stronger than that below. Between the work site and the barrier, there are tens of dormitories and offices, a waterfall and several power generating units running day and night. There is a permanent work site and it seems that the preceding cheap works made in the past has led to the catastrophic situation which exists today. Currently there is no solid support on this slope able to ensure the perenniality of the work. The building site is in activity day and night, the night with the glare of strong flood lights.
In the evening, we enter one of the huts which border the road on the left of our vehicle to drink a beer. This hut is built between the abrupt road side and the trunks of the pines which are growing below. There is a young Chinese couple with a their little girl who is approximately fifteen months old. To help them I take the initiative to take her on my knees and to play with her. She is sociable and remains with me. This amuses a lot of the parents. We return in the evening to dine in company of the guide and the driver. The departure is given for 3 o'clock in the morning. During the meal I take again the child on my knees. We are upset when leaving them, they refuse any payment because the child was happy in our company. This attitude considering their hard living conditions shows well that they place their feelings above material problems. We leave them and although we can do nothing for them we will always keep a place for these people in our heart.
Outside, groups formed in front of a wood fire, some Tibetans were playing various games. A musician plays several passages with violin then a Chinese flute. An old Tibetan even makes demonstration of setting fire to a pile of twigs by running the silex lighter which he carries on his belt. There are groups around the fires here or there around the home teapot but nobody sings. I suppose that all these people are unhappy because some of them have been here for more than two weeks. There is neither telephone, nor a portable! I prepare the last "cappuccino" coffee.
We fall asleep in a sitting position inside the vehicle and I am awaked by the early cold morning towards 6h30. All through the night a thin rain has fallen making the atmosphere really sad. May be it will help to stabilize the grumbly ground of the passage.