3 August – Eye clinic and a calming practice trek

Day two of the eye clinic was just as much fun as the first day and we saw almost as many people.  These nomads do not get to see many doctors so even though we “only” have an ophthalmologist present, they are asking for help with constipation, diarrhea, skin infections, arthritis urinary tract infections and a host of other maladies.  Penicillin and Ibuprofen were being prescribed almost as much as eye-drops.  The more serious problems were given treatment as best as they could and instructed to come back tomorrow.

The not-so-fun part of the clinic involved Khandro-la again today.  When we arrived and greeted the people in the queue today, we were told that the mayor had the key and was under strict orders not to open the room without Khandro-la present.  The doctor was also not there.  We waited and waited as the crowd grew and waited in the sun.  For the first time, I started to sweat, but this was probably more out of embarrassment than heat.  How could Khandro-la keep “her people” like this?  When she finally did arrive, she again made another big ceremony of it and insisted that all the patients wait outside while she gave us an earful about ignoring her instructions to not bring in our Western biases to the eye clinic.  We had to do everything her way.  I got direct orders because I was not making the people queue properly once in the hall.  Everyone was supposed to stand and move a step further whenever the person in front of them moved.  Great.  Some of these people are in their eighties and can barely walk.  Fortunately, Khandro-la did not hang around long today so I just ignored her as soon as she left.  I cannot be that mean to old people despite Bob trying to tell me that I needed to follow Khandro-la’s instructions to a T.

In the afternoon, Melanie and I hiked about 3km into the plains behind the town.  This is where many of the nomads take their goats and yaks but other than poop, a couple of yaks, a donkey a dog and a small temporary settlement, we saw no signs of life.  We also climbed the hill opposite of Korzak, on the other side of the river and went about 2km, past the Dalai Lama’s local residence in the late afternoon.  Climbing the hill and doing the hike gave us a feel for what our trek will be like next week.  We have acclimated some to the high altitude but we will still be walking very, very slow.  We also had so nice views from the hill and saw the little isolated residence up close.  I think that Khandro-la may also be staying there too or at least hanging out there during the daytime when she is not getting her adoration from the masses. 

The valley grazing area

Looking west toward Korzak, our tents are below the town

From the peak across the river from Korzak, our tents below the town

The inland grazing valley

Looking back to Korzak, past a Rinpoche’s retreat house

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