As my shoe steps down into the mud, the rain continues, a woman stands up, raises her head from the debris pile and smiles. She looks up, a proud smiling face full of mud freckles and points me to a drier path. She is hard at work removing rubble one stone at a time.
Her team is passing pieces of concrete from one hand to the next, forming a line of hope and a pathway into the future. Her dirt stained, calloused hand from a year of hard work points towards a long metal pipe salvaged from a collapsed building. It has been fashioned into a bridge over the never ending maze of earthquake debris.
I balance my mud heavy feet one in front of the other and follow the others over the bridge pipe through Yushu’s town center. It has been a year since the entire town and surrounding infrastructure shook to the ground when a mind boggling, 7.1 magnitude earthquake brought the region to a pause.
As the rain persists, the rubble softens, I continue to climb over a bank of mud, loose concrete and dirt. I proceed along Yushu’s main trail in search of the internet/communications tent. As I join the locals and bounce like a child over dirt puddles, my shoe saturates with wet sticky mud. I pass by blue tent after blue tent of businesses in recovery housed by smiling shops keepers. Fruit and veggie tents, hardware store tents, cell phone tents and restaurant tents line the rock rubble forming a new town of spirited community members embracing progress. A labyrinth of new life, a trail of hope built out earthquake debris. Yushu, an impressive, determined community that is on its way to recovery one stone at a time.