Nothing I had previously seen or read prepared me for the vast landscapes I saw or for the astonishingly attractive people I met in Tibet. An old woman tending her donkey welcomed us into her barnyard and the house above it, then gathered her family to greet us. Each monastery was different. Young monks debated and gestured forcefully in the grassy garden of one; older monks chanted softly in the dusty, sunlit courtyard of another. A gray-haired woman in traditional Tibetan dress and Nike sneakers polished large brass prayer wheels in yet another monastery. Three or four monks beckoned me to sit with them in a small second-floor room where we smiled and gestured, but were unable to speak a common language.
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