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  • All those iMax films, National Geographic spreads, and gossipy Jon Krakauer books . . . you think maybe you have a sense of what a trek through the Himalayas might be like. Of course you don't. Just home from 12 days amid those timeless, towering peaks; hiking through the Annapurna Sanctuary in Nepal. From 3,510 feet up to 13,549 feet and back down again. Beautiful, humbling, quad-quivering, joyous.

    Eight of the world's ten tallest peaks live here. 61 out of 1,000 children die before age five; it's six in the U.S. There are 4.26 hospital beds for every 10,000 Nepali citizens; it's 31 in the U.S.

    There's a story here, or maybe not. We're rich (#12 out of 226), they're poor (#205 out of 226).

    Tourism is hand's down Nepal's chief money-maker. The country is desperate for tourists and the dollars/rupees they bring with them . . . But trekker's tea house bills will never be enough to provide clean drinking water to the 4.4 million Nepalese citizens who currently don't have it (80% of disease in Nepal is linked to clean drinking water).

    (Sources: World Health Organization, World Fact Book, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs).
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