Waiting In Limbo

Trip Start Mar 21, 2005
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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Sitting here in limbo, waiting for the dice to roll
Sitting here in limbo, got some time to search my soul
Well, they're putting up resistance
But I know that my faith will lead me on
~Jimmy Cliff

Limbo--the art of waiting--is luckily an art as opposed to a heavy burden. Like any art, sitting in limbo requires a little bit of patience, a little bit of flexibility, some frustration, and a little bit of expecting the unexpected. So while I sit here in limbo, waiting for the dice to roll, Jimmy Cliff's song comes to mind.

Why am I waiting here in limbo?

Well, let's put it this way: there's some change comin' around WWF-China and the answer's blowin' in the wind, but right now we're in the doldrums, so I'm not hearing anything. Another way of saying it is that there are "administrative hurdles" up in Beijing. If you still don't understand, maybe rent "Office Space" and enjoy the copier scene with a batch of buttered popcorn.

When the doldrums fade and the wind begins to blow, I'll hear my answer.

Until then, I'm still volunteering here in Shangri-la with WWF-China.

I returned to Shangri-la on July 24. Before that, I was waiting for my passport and visa to come through for about three weeks. Since then, I've been visiting various sites in the Shangri-la area, which forms the heart of the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan.

The Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan is one of those areas that all the "big heavies" put on their "list." This area is part of WWF's Global 200 sites, part of The Nature Conservancy's priority areas, a focal point for Conservation International, a research haven for botanists, ecologists, and zoologists, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and so on. The protected areas within this site total about fifty percent larger than Yellowstone National Park.

This, however, doesn't mean that the "protected" areas and their biodiversity are protected, as thousands of Tibetan villagers rely on these protected areas for their livelihoods and the governments' mouths are watering at the large areas of forests. Much work needs to be done in order to make people and their more natural brethren more compatible with one another. The burden lies with us sentient beings.

The Three Rivers--the Nu (Salween), Lancang (Mekong), and Yangtze--slice through massive canyons which encompass a wide variety of soils, rocks, wildlife, plants, and habitats. Below 8,000 feet, the steep gorges are home to semi-arid shrublands. Between 8,000 and 10,000 feet are warm coniferous and deciduous forests. Between 10,000 and 13,500 feet are fir-dominated coniferous forests. Because of its monsoonal climate, its precise location at the convergence of Southeast Asia, Tibet, and East Asia, geology, and likely other factors, some of the highest forests in the world are found here. Higher still, between 13,500 and 15,000 feet is alpine heathlands and grasslands. Between 15,000 feet and 16,500 feet is tundra. Above 16,500 feet is rock and ice. This is a broad generalization, of course, but it gives you an idea of how the habitats are layered like a Big Dagwood Sandwich.

Within this Big Dagwood Sandwich are 250 species of pines (Pinaceae), 910 endemic plants, three hundred bird species (including 63 endemic species), and 100 mammals (with 43% of them endemic), and making this area one of the most diverse temperate areas in the world.

So I've been living out of the Xiangbala Hotel in Zhongdian, temporary home for WWF. Every week, we've headed out on another trip: to Hamugu, to the villages of the Yangtze River Valley, to the mountains and forest and grasslands of Baimaxueshan Nature Reserve, and to a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery. They're all located within about four hours away (see the map in the photo gallery).

So we've been waiting in limbo, but "no worries," I'm enjoying a Big Dagwood Sandwich.

Sitting in limbo, sitting in limbo
Sitting in limbo, sitting in limbo
Sitting in limbo, sitting in limbo
Sitting in limbo limbo limbo...
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