Woke up at 5 am today! I was up before everyone else -except for Don who gets up at 4 every morning to meditate and drink his 8 cups of coffee (he has cut back since he has been here)! I was awakened by the birds of the Himalayas! YES! We are in Dharamsala. I went out in search of coffee. Everything was closed. The front desk concierge was asleep on his mattress in the main reception area here at the finest hotel in Dharamsala.
We got in yesterday evening after a LONG winding bus ride. We slowly wound our way up and up and up. At one point, the driver turned off the air conditioner and opened all the windows. AHHHH. Pine trees, mountain air. COOL air! A gift after the scorching heat of Delhi and Amritsar. Yes, we are at 5000 feet. We started getting giddy, laughing hysterically at everything from the roadside monkeys to the massive layer upon layer of snow covered Himalayas in the distance, to the thick forests. We smiled, laughed, jumped out of our seats, oohed and ahhed. We arrived at our hotel which is very close to the Dalai Lama’s residence. This is the only hotel completely filled year round because of its location. The balcony of my room overlooks a densely covered hillside forest. We ate dinner on the rooftop restaurant where we also do our morning yoga. I can’t tell you what a relief it is to be in this cooler weather.
At 6 am I found a coffee shop perched above a small street.The streets are a mishmash of haphazardly constructed lanes, alleys, drives, dead ends. Monkeys with baby monkeys on their backs cross the rooftop of the Tibetan Herbal Medicine building. I watch nuns go by with prayer wheel in hand, an old Tibetan man descends steep stairs with devotional fire tin in hand, prayer beads hanging from his other hand, somehow holding a cane, too. He slowly reaches the street. Two dogs rouse from their sleep to greet him. He pets them with a loving hand then moves on. In his wake, the dogs roll around on the pavement, exposing bellies to the open sky. The old man has made their day. I watch all this as I drink the best cappuccino this side of Rome!
We had a wonderful yoga session on the rooftop. An eagle flew by. The street sounds below remind us we are Dharamsala. Our eyes feast on the thick Himalayan forest as we stand in mountain pose. After yoga and after breakfast, I showed everyone to the coffee shop. Everyone agreed with me that this coffee was great. And then a trip to the Dalai Lama’s residence (no, we didn’t go in, but just stood before the house which is quite simple and not at all ornate) and then went into the Tibetan temple. I learned so much about Buddhism. To be continued…soon I hope.