(Aug 4, 2015) The plan to create a remembered past. Catch a one a day train up a narrow River Valley. A train for miners to a mine. From there bum a ride 20 km up to an alpine valley. And a hike of three hours to the July 1st glacier at 14,000 feet. Why? That was the day Fumiko delivered, albeit two weeks late. In the midst of a thunderstorm. On this day though the miners were enthusiastic for their digging for the 7 AM train left at 6:25. Once again we were late. But a little early for disappointment, so we jumped on the adage and headed west on a bus.
Dunhuang is surrounded by dunes. Hollywoods version of them. Large and wind textured into wrinkles. My astronomer tells me that there are more stars above then grains of sand on earth. Looking around Dunhuang clarifies infinity. On the way to our guesthouse Fumiko spotted a camel. Consolation. Within three hours we had three camels for three days. The double humped variety as opposed to the single humpers. Bactrian rather than Dromedary for the name droppers. Our guide was Mr. Li, a man prone to silence in any language. Which was OK. I like my deserts quiet. One camel for supplies, one for Fumiko and one for myself. Mr. Li seemed inclined to lead by walking. I boarded. Some days fortune and misfortune seem to be a couple. Today it was camels and glaciers.
Day two. Hours on a camel saddle seem to support Mr. Li’s position. Fumiko is still whooping though the temperature has 100° in its review. My courtship is with Ali, the number three transport camel. He demands a physical relationship while I want to give our love some distance. Symbolically Ali is tethered to my saddle by a rope. The rope is attached to a stick that passes through his nostrils. It is a branched on one end. A holed plastic bottle cap against the branch prevents the stick from repassing through the nostril. The rope is never taught. Slackness is a measure of his affection.
Ali’s head is Siamese to my hip. His whiskers sewing needles. His breath sulphered and decomposing. When there is an itch, either my leg or back suffice for Ali’s need. But the test of our love is the sneezing seizures. Usually a series of seven by count. Camel snot has both a sheen and volume that are a marvel. The series usually begin at my leg, move up my arm and end at my neck and face. Their blasts feel weighted. Our love is on his terms.
We halt for lunch. Using the camel saddles and a bush Mr. Li creates a shade tarp. The wind resists. Ingeniously he ties rope to sticks and buries them lengthwise in the sand. From this anchor the rope to the saddles is strong, preventing them from toppling. I catalog the technique.
Lunch is cup of noodles and watermelon. I failed to share with Ali. Perhaps stung, he wanders off. And off. And off. With the others. Mr. Li mutters a sour oath. And goes looking. Several hours ago. All of their return is of much interest to Fumiko. But right now the sands are presenting their canvas to the clouds. From my shade perspective Mr. Li and love can take all the time they want.