Welcome to Kaza, possibly the remotest place in which you have ever known someone to reside! I arrived the last week of May for a field visit to the head office of my NGO, Ecosphere. The Spiti Valley of Himachal Pradesh in the trans-Himalayan belt plays host to Kaza. At an altitude of 12,250 feet, my new home in the high desert leaves me gasping for more oxygen and gaping at the extreme physical beauty surrounding me.
Since arriving, my manager has handed over many projects that I could not tackle from my remote Delhi office. My previous work focused on marketing Ecosphere’s home stays in local Spitian villages. Now I get to visit those home stays and conduct preliminary ratings on the basis of eco-friendliness, hospitality, and overall quality. After a thorough assessment, the home stay proprietors will review our results and determine how they can be used. We will recommend that Ecosphere assigns patrons to home stays on the basis of these ratings AND that home stay prices are set to reflect the ratings. For example, proprietors offering a higher rated home stay will receive a higher compensation from guests. On top of all that, I look forward to sampling the local cuisine and enjoying the warmth and hospitality of our home stay partners!
In addition, the local geology and health care have become foci of my time. We hope to install an information center for tourists focused on the well-preserved fossils found in this area. I also want to tie the poor waste management in Kaza to increased incidents of illness as compared with other regions in the Himachali district of Lahaul and Spiti. To accomplish this, I will interview doctors and nurses at the local hospital and cull through medical records, if possible.
Kaza is paradise for an outdoor enthusiast like me. Yesterday, I experimented with my lung capacity and endurance at high altitudes. I trekked from Kaza up to a high meadow at 15,000 feet. I had a splitting headache to show for it AND amazing views of the Spiti Valley, wild pony sightings, challenging bouldering traverses, and hail storm run-ins. Yep, I like this place!