June 22, 2018
I fell asleep easily on my first night in Skardu and woke up around 3 am to the sound of prayers being broadcast from a nearby mosque to speakers in the hills opposite the hotel. I don't understand the words of the prayers but they felt haunting as they echoed off the rocky slopes around the hotel which is called PTDC. I'm not sure what the acronym stands for, but it is situated on a high bank of the Indus River and has a very nice, well manicured garden with roses and fruit trees and song birds. The Sherpa climbed in the cherry trees and picked ripe fruit for everyone lounging in the garden.
The town of Skardu is full of partially constructed buildings and storefronts, inhabited by men selling vegetables and cakes and building supplies. Everyone that I encounter continues to be kind and helpful but my blonde hair, even though it is covered, makes me feel like a spectacle. Several times men or boys have timidly asked to take my photo and each time I have obliged. I am thankful that I can experience a culture so different from my own because I think that having a wider view of how people live in this world helps me to be kinder and more appreciative of my blessings.
Overall I feel calm about the challenges ahead of me. I'm not stressed or anxious. Probably because I really haven't done anything except lounge in a fancy hotel, and because the next week will just be about trekking, which I know won't be easy by but certainly not as demanding as the climb. I am looking forward to beginning the trek, but also want to just lay in the grass and eat cherries for a few more days :)