Today is the first day of a week-long national strike, a protest against the coming sham elections. It has been planned for a long time, and many of us are worried that it will also bring violence.

We Westerners who are living here in Nepal have been talking about the strike and the elections for weeks. We all have our own opinions about what will happen, and what will come of all this. We all stocked up on rice, eggs, water and peanut butter, since the stores will be closed for a week. (Most people shop for these things every day.)

I made it to Tibet! That red line I am leaning on is the border, and I am on the Tibetan side.

A scene along the roadside near Tibet. As we get nearer to Tibet, the road gets progressively worse. At one time, it had probably all been paved, but here it follows a narrow canyon so steep that the walls are constantly sliding, taking the road with it.

Day two of the bike trip, we headed north towards Tibet, leaving Greg to get back to work. It is a beautiful day, and many take advantage of the warm weather to have a picnic by the river.

This is Ian Sanderson. For Ian's 40th birthday we rented motorcycles and headed out for a road trip. Clich? perhaps, but fun nonetheless.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas here in Nepal was quiet and wonderful. The country hardly notices Christmas. The restaurants that cater to tourists offer a "Christmas Meal," and that's about it. It's quite nice, really, Christmas is free to be a religious holiday. And it was.

Two images of daily prayer in Nepal. The first one is Hindu. On a hillside above Lamatar, on the edge of the Kathmadu valley, there is a small cave that is known as a holy place. People honor it by lighting incense, placing flowers, and painting the rocks with red and yellow powder. There are also two bells that can be sounded at the end of prayer.

Today the stupa here in Boudhanath was lit up with one hundred thousand butter lamps in honor of World Peace Day. A powerful prayer for peace, and I can't think of a better thing to pray for.

Have I ever told you about the stupa? Stupas are mounds of rock marking a holy site. Or maybe the site is holy because the Stupa is there. Often they have inside a relic of a bodhisattva (holy person) or some Buddhist scripture. People reverence the stupa in some sense as you would the Buddha, because the stupa makes the Buddha present.

Finally getting out more to see what goes on in the valley, I visited Loyola House, a home for about 35 boys who study at local schools.

Weddings: in some sense, the same the world over. But here in Nepal, even more so.

Alex, one of the students studying here from Boston college, wanted a Pashmina shawl (special wool from here in Nepal, very soft), so a group went looking. We went to a friend of a friends' shop, Rajeesh, but they didn't have exactly the color Alex was looking for. The next day was Saturday and the shop would be closed, so Rajeesh invited us to stop by his house the next day where we could see samples and order whatever color Alex wanted. I thought that quite gracious.