I taste fire, earth, rain: elements of a life with a Sherpa

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9780983609407: I taste fire, earth, rain: elements of a life with a Sherpa
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“I TASTE FIRE, EARTH, RAIN...takes the reader into the remote places of Nepal, with glimpses of Sherpa culture and traditions. This book will enthrall everyone with its unique journey through a life with a Sherpa and rare insights into the Himalayan region.” —LAKPA SHERPA, first Sherpa to climb the Seven Summits and Alpine Ascents International mountain guide who achieved fifteen Mount Everest summits Sometimes one is ready to take risks, accept the unexpected, and commit to a dramatically altered life. With this spirit, Caryl begins her journey around the world, open to the new and ready for adventure. As she treks around the Annapurna Mountains of Nepal, she finds herself attracted to her Sherpa trekking guide, Nima. She denies her feelings for Nima, but as she comes to know the land and the Sherpas, she falls in love with Nima, his country, his people, and their joy. Together, Caryl and Nima struggle to find balance in Los Angeles and Ann Arbor, but it is on their return to Nima’s homeland near Mount Everest that they both come to terms with who they have now become. This is an inspiring story of love, cultural exploration, the importance of place, finding one’s faith, and the revelation that in the Himalaya, anything is possible. Fire, earth, rain represent the triumvirate of three of the five elements of Tibetan Buddhist astrology that sustains life. Fire is heat, light, passion: earth is our foundation: rain purifies and sustains. Together, Caryl and Nima welcomed the elements of fire, earth, rain, which allowed them to grow, flourish, and transform.

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About the Author:

After Caryl Sherpa traveled around the world in 1991, she returned with a story to tell and a desire to write. Since her return, she has studied with teachers at the University of California Los Angeles and at Richard Hugo House in Seattle, as well as at workshops around the country. Her teachers have included Kathleen Alcala, Bernard Cooper, and Terry Tempest Williams. Her passion is for Nepal, its people, and its culture, and especially that of the Sherpa after she met and married her trekking guide, Nima Sherpa. Together, they travel often to the Himalayan regions of Nepal, Tibet, and Bhutan. Caryl writes to inspire others to travel towards "a broadening of consciousness, the ultimate destination after any journey." She intends to never stop traveling, and so her migration continues. In 2012, Caryl and Nima will build a house in Nepal in a village above the trail that leads to Mount Everest. Among farm fields, family, and mountains, Caryl will continue to write about what she loves - the Himalaya, the Sherpa, and their joy.


Contained within every airline ticket is the opportunity for a transformational journey, but often, the scope of that adventure depends on the traveler, not the destination.

For first-time author Caryl Sherpa, a trip to Nepal in 1991 changed not only the outward circumstances of her life, it also altered her inner landscape.

As she shares the details and insights about that sojourn and her life since then, Sherpa provides an irresistible, rich experience for any armchair traveler. In being honest about the challenges of her own transformation, she proves to be an expert guide for people seeking such a journey.

Sherpa spent most of her life as a typical, stressed-out American with a

high- profile job. After growing up in Michigan and becoming an interior designer, she worked on a lavish, career-making project just before the boom of the 1980s went bust. The disappointment of spending three years on a project that did not come to complete fruition sent her searching for meaning and the true definition of accomplishment. Since she had fostered a love of mountains, she decided to use her athletic skills and go trekking in the Himalayas.

While she takes on the Annapurna Circuit, one of her guides, Nima Sherpa (in the Himalayas, those with the profession of sherpa are also named Sherpa, along with their families), finds a direct route into her heart through his joyful, radiant presence. Although the author resists falling in love at first, the openness she feels in the country soon translates into trusting her romantic feelings and following a path that causes  her heart to finally shine clear.

The ensuing marriage and the transition to life with Nima in America is fascinating for its insight into the immigrant experience yet, the true value in Sherpa s work is the exploration of her emotional changes. As she lets the chaos of Kathmandu and the stunning beauty of the mountains work within her, the author s language becomes poetic and gorgeous, interweaving natural elements into her narrative.

 I am water,  she writes.  Nima sits on a rock along the shore. Nima is earth. Listen to the water, I murmur. Hear the stones, he whispers. Water and earth converse. It is time for us to move on. Together, we will spiral in one continuous migration, like the water that flows over stones.

The fire, earth, and rain of the book s title are both literal and figurative. Sherpa walks in the mountains and sits beside waterfalls, but she also feels the fiery transition from her former life to one that is more open to every possibility. She finds solid ground, yet discovers how to flow with unexpected events. As she and Nima create their relationship day by day, Sherpa expertly describes how her life has become an amazing journey, without specific destination. Her memoir is sure to find many fans who are on life adventures of their own. 

Five Stars (out of Five) 

ForeWord Clarion Review
Elizabeth Millard


Caryl Sherpa's I Taste Fire, Earth, Rain is an exhilarating journey into the majestic Himalayan landscape and the equally majestic mystery of the human heart and soul. Sherpa's intensely personal search for meaning in the modern world is a must read for anyone seeking fresh perspectives on the age-old questions. A lovely, important book.- Dinty W. Moore, author of The Mindful Writer: Noble Truths of the Writing Life.

Even when you know your destination, you never know where travel will take you It s with that sense of adventure and openness to change that Sherpa wrote her book.

-           Rebecca Meany, Idaho Mountain Express

 In I Taste Fire, Earth, Rain, Caryl Sherpa recounts how she ran away from her life, trying to obliterate it in the steep silences of the Himalayas.Instead, she found the rest of her life with the least likely person she could imagine. Caryl generously shares her adventures with us, only thebeginning of good things to come.  

-              Kathleen Alcalá, Author

Sometime when you go trekking in Nepal, you come home with a sherpa.

-           - Jess Righthand, The Washington Post

Peace is found in life s journey.

                - David Steinberg, Albuquerque Journal 

She translates so lucidly her state of mind when the possibility of such a seemingly impossible relationship opens up Congratulations on the journey, and on translating it into a work of art.

- Gemma Whelan, Fionna: Stolen Child


When asked about her first impressions of Nepal, Caryl told us in Kathmandulast week, she was amazed how despite the poverty, the Nepalis she met foundjoy in simple pleasures and their deep commitment towards their faith. Two decades later, she finds the country is almost unrecognisable: "When Icame here in 1991, there were very few tourists and we used to camp out onthe river banks. Today there are big, fancy lodges even in the Khumbu, andthere is a road around the Annapurna circuit." After almost 20 years in the US, the Sherpas are now back in Kathmandu andpreparing to settle permanently in Nima's hometown in Solukhumbu. Caryl whotook 15 years to complete her first book while working full-time, wants todedicate more of her time to writing. She told the Nepali Times, "I haveplenty of free time now and living in the foothills of Himalayas willdefinitely boost my creativity." The couple is currently busy traveling backand forth from Kathmandu to Solukhumbu, making arrangements for their newhome and planning to open a retreat for artists and writers near NamcheBazar. Although Caryl says she misses her family in the US and might struggle toget through Nepali winters in cement houses with no central heating, shefeels at home and is ready to start her life as a Sherpani.

a story of finding love and balance.  

- Lindsey Galloway, BBC TRAVEL with lonely planet: Gift Guide 2011; Asia


American by birth, Sherpani at heart.More than 20 years ago at Bhote Odar, Caryl Sherpa feels she suddenly foundthe clarity she was searching for in her life when she met her guide, Nima.And two days into her trek of the Annapurna circuit she promises herself: "Iwill marry Nima Gyalgen Sherpa." Caryl's book, I taste fire, earth, rain: elements of a life with a Sherpatraces Caryl and Nima Sherpa's journey as they crisscross the Annapurna, LosAngeles, Michigan and Solukhumbu and learn to reconcile their two worlds. The memoir picks up in the spring of 1991, when 39 year-old Caryl leavesbehind her posh home, difficult job as the manager of an interiorarchitecture project and a messy breakup in Los Angeles and arrives inKathmandu searching for a sense of purpose and in desperate need of change.Once on the trail, she quickly befriends one of her guides, Nima. While Nimais calm, assured and has strong faith, Caryl is restless, full of doubts andskeptical. Despite the language barrier and cultural divide, the two areinstantly attracted to each other and risk a relationship. While a large part of the book is devoted to stories about their love andmarriage, Caryl also delves into the more serious issues of cross-culturalunions and the frustrations they experienced while adjusting to a world thatdid not fully accept Nima nor understood her feelings. "Nima is wise, has been through some tough experiences and like otherSherpas was very adaptable. But it was still a very alienating environmentfor him and the way he dressed, or spoke, his lack of formal education, hisrough edges made him an outsider. Sometimes people who want to emigrate tothe US only see the money and opportunities, and fail to realise that it canbe very difficult," Caryl explained. For readers who are unfamiliar with Nepal's topography, Caryl describes theBrahmin, Gurung and Tibetan villages that she passes through on her way toThorung-La and Kala Pattar in meticulous detail. Her understanding of Sherpaculture and explanations of their customs and rituals will also fascinateand educate even Sherpas.--Nepali Times, Feb 24 -March 1, 2011

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Sherpa, Caryl
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ISBN 10: 0983609403 ISBN 13: 9780983609407
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