Friday, February 14, 2014

living in the mountains

I have moved to a mountain village for approximately 6 months. It is a new experience, both in terms of scenery and activity. Any window in the village I look out of has a view of mountains. Snow has fallen nearly nonstop since I arrived, stacking inches upon inches and making it so that paths are carved through the snow between buildings, with snow walls on each side gradually getting higher. To leave a path means stepping in snow up to the knees at least. Trees and buildings are covered with it, and when it snows the mountains are obscured so that the village sits in a snow globe, isolated from the world. Places where snow has slid off roofs and joined what's already on the ground leave buildings half buried in drifts. The sun only makes it over the tops of the mountains for a few hours a day (when it's not snowing).
Hot water for showers is only available during the day most days; the rest of the time it's lukewarm or cold. There is less power now that the water is half frozen because the village uses a hydroelectric plant. So when the village is full, there is less power to go around and the potential for power outages. Many things have been unplugged to conserve power for the winter. Some of the trails have risk of avalanches when there is fresh snow, but there are still places to explore, either by walking, snowshoeing, or skiing.
The community is full of people from various places and life stories, with many different talents. Everyone eats together and nothing is locked. Buildings are always open and we did not get keys to our rooms. People constantly come and go, visiting, volunteering, or headed out of the village to get a break or use technology. We have staff internet, but it is slow.
The mountains hold a majesty and mystery, and sometimes it still seems unreal that I am living in a place nestled in mountains. To get in and out is quite an affair, and not to be taken lightly. So care is taken to make the place safe and enjoyable. It will be interesting to see the place after the snow melts, though, to find out what things look like and what might be buried under snow that I haven't even seen yet.