As soon as we were on the other side, a podgy Kyrgyz man in a crowd of other men watching the clearing of the slide started screaming at me in Russian, too quickly for me to understand. He approached me with his hand raised, as if he were going to hit me in the back of the head, so I flinched and got out of arm's length as quickly as I could. The rest of the crowd, which included military and police officers, didn't even give the situation a cursory glance despite an obvious foreigner about to be whacked in the head.
To see and hear such amazing energy generated from hiking and seeing mountains, from people who hardly knew such things before that exact moment, was a simple reminder about why I am here and who I am. While I love traveling and I am really starting to enjoy teaching, I realized four years ago while hitchhiking across Norway that when I am in the mountains, I am completely at home.