Langza – its one of the smaller highland villages of the Spiti Valley, broken up into Upper Langza & Lower Langza and having about 12 and 9 houses respectively. With some help from EcoSphere there is a program in place where a handful of the villagers have developed a program of Home Stays. The reason this has been so important for preserving the culture is that it deters anyone from allowing a guesthouse or hostel to be built while also bringing in additional income to the locals.
As a traveler going to Langza there is the option to work with the locals and get a feel for what life can really be like. I stayed for three nights on my first visit and got to work with the Shepard, the Potter, and a local woman in the green pea fields.
The day with the potter was great, he uses a manual pottery wheel so multi tasking is necessary – sponging the wheel with a foot while molding the clay with the hands. I forgot how much I enjoyed pottery, its the combination of creating something with my hands along with the immediate result – a simple pot can be done in relatively little time.
While working in the fields I really got my hands dirty so there aren’t any photos, instead I am including two photos of a woman from a different village working in her green pea fields, it was essentially the same so just use your imagination =)
Spending a day with the shepherd was by far the highlight for me. The position is quite unique in that each day a different person from the village acts as the shepherd, taking all of the other villagers’ sheep, donkeys, and cows out to the pasture, hanging out there for 7 hours and then bringing them back. The shared responsibility seems to bring the people together because each day they are forced to interact with others as they are rounding up the animals. Of the many different areas that are used as pastures the one that I walked to that day was about an hour away. We got the animals at 7 and were walking out of the village by 730. Once we reached the spot there wasn’t much else to do besides hanging out. Occasionally one animal would wander a bit too far and one of us would take a brisk walk to bring it back but besides that theres a lot if time to kill. We walked by the river, caught a donkey and rode it for a bit and then took a nap.