Sigourney was tempted to show the old woman the manuscript, but the driver burst into the room shouting and motioning for Sigourney to leave. When she emerged from the house, she saw that the police cars were gone! She waved to the old woman and hastily piled into the car. The driver was already gunning the engine. They shot down the dirt road and back onto the pavement like a cannon ball.
Sigourney watched the landscape whizzing past her window. Big, woolly yaks adorned with red ribbons were pulling wooden plows through the rough earth, just as they had done on the vast, wild plains of the Tibetan plateau. That part of her journey was like a dream to her now. A different woman had made that trip, a naïve woman who expected to waltz into Lhasa, deliver the manuscript and fly home. The new Sigourney was scared out of her wits but still determined to fulfill her quest. She pulled John’s phone from her jacket and nearly pressed the red button, before remembering he wouldn’t have a replacement for at least three days. He was supposed to be her lifeline to the outside world, and she couldn’t reach him.
Her thoughts were interrupted when the driver abruptly turned off the paved road onto a dirt one aimed at the mountains she had seen earlier. Their new route was not so much a road as a teeth-rattling series of rocks and cavities which made normal progress nearly impossible. The car banged and thumped along as the driver maneuvered over and around the road’s obstacles. Sigourney gripped the seat with both hands and tried to prevent her head from bouncing off the ceiling.
The road became marginally better as they entered a narrow valley and began to pass tiny villages. Goats, pigs, and yaks roamed freely along the lower slopes of the surrounding mountains. Mounds of wheat stood like golden igloos in the fields. Peasants pitched the wheat onto wooden carts, filling each cart until the grain hung over the sides. They reminded Sigourney of the busses packed with people in Kathmandu.
They were climbing steadily, and soon, a thin layer of snow appeared in irregular patterns on the fields. The spring-like morning Sigourney had left behind in Lhasa turned into a bone-chilling, sleet-gray day. The snow line crept relentlessly closer, until the entire valley was blanketed in a winter-white coat. She could see that winter came early to this bleak valley, if it ever left at all. It made her wonder about the journey that lay ahead.
Sigourney's Quest - Excerpt
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