On the way up the Annapurna valley in Nepal, the axle breaks on our bus, stranding us at the roadside. Towering over us on all sides are snow capped peaks—8 of the 20 tallest mountains in the world line this valley.
This spot, the small stretch of a dirt road hugging a mountainside, has been transformed into a temporary community. The overcrowded mini-bus empties and immediately people start pitching in to help. The jack doesn’t lift the bus high enough and small groups set off and return rolling massive rocks toward the bus, stacking them together to create a platform.
There is little traffic on the road, just a few jeeps or motorcycles each hour. The first vehicle to arrive is a jeep. After a brief conversation with one the the men putting the jack into place on the pile of rocks, the car pulls over and parks.
The men from the jeep empty out of the car. One of them grabs a bag of tools from the back and hands it off to the bus driver. Every vehicle that passes for the next two hours stops at least briefly, inquiring what the problem is and if there is anything they can do to help. At one point four vehicles are stopped, including the broken-down bus and jeep, and dozens of people are milling about the road as the sun begins to fall behind the Himalayas.
In between the conversations and occasional clink of metal, the sound of the river tumbling down the valley below echoes up the cliff-side. The dying light colors the ice capped peaks shades of orange and red.
And finally, the axle is repaired, we cram back into the bus, and our beautiful interruption ends.