There are two NGOs (non-governmental organisations, or not-for-profits) in town with international staff who, although not based here full-time, make regular and extended visits. This week I arrived back from Lal to find my mates in town until next Tuesday.
When the boys are here I can do all sorts of things that I am not allowed or not able to do alone: go for walks, explore the river, host (small but perfectly formed) social functions at my place. All in all the pace of life changes and I get out and about a lot more.
Last night they came for an after dinner beer and a long talk about Buddhism, suffering, the Boxing day tsunami, meditation, physics (string theory even, I was not altogether coherent on this topic, but nonetheless spoke passionately about the vibrating, dancing strings). Today we sat by the river watching the water go by for an hour or so and then walked out of town up into the hills until we could see the sun was going to set on us.
Can you see Cheghcharan away off in the distance? Today I discovered that after months of being fairly confined to the compound my legs do still work (which is good news for my plans to walk with Swirly!). Breathing in the fresh air, striding out towards the distant mountains, cooking up schemes to walk all the way to the summit one weekend, exclaiming at the hardy little flowers, wondering what the names of the local birds might be - all in all an afternoon very well spent. See how Frida is smiling?
PS: I'm posting all my best photos over at my new photoblog and they are feeling a little lonely over there. I'd love your feedback. I'm building courage to do something more with these images and I'm really interested in which of them you find you respond to most, and maybe even why?