Monday, May 05, 2008
Immigration around the Globe: Nepal. Virginia man is back home after Nepal deportation over 'Free Tibet' flag.
It's back to the day job for William Brant Holland, international man of intrigue.
He's $20,000 poorer and with little to show for it, except a mark on his passport indicating he's been deported. And there's a letter of rebuke from the Nepalese office of tourism, which Monday banned him from Mount Everest for two years.
"They said they were going to go easy on me," Holland said. "They were very nice about it, really."
He sipped his first beer Wednesday since his dream of reaching the summit of Mount Everest this month failed. He was back on Cary Street, wearing a green Patagonia polo shirt and canvas pants. His face was sunburned except where his beard was and where the mask covered his face from the cold on the mountain
He's come to this conclusion about it all:
"The mountain isn't going anywhere. I'll be back."
At 26, Holland has attained a distinction that he never invited or imagined.
A $10, 2-foot-square banner carrying the words "Free Tibet" got Holland booted off Everest, the first victim of new regulations designed to avoid any unpleasantness over the Chinese government's plan to haul the Olympic torch to the mountain's summit, probably in the next few days.
Holland's plan to get a picture of himself at the top of Everest with the banner in hand backfired.
He said someone informed authorities, the flag was confiscated, and then he was told to report to tourism officials in Katmandu.
"I did the walk back (from base camp) in three days. I was pretty upset and needed to figure out what was going on," Holland said.
News of the ouster went worldwide and Holland says now he never imagined that his plan would become public or arouse suspicion.
"If I'd meant to cause trouble I could have bought a $20 permit and been leading demonstrations or something at the base camp. That's not what was going on."
A 2000 graduate of Midlothian High School, where he wrestled and played football, Holland is leading a rarified life.
The son of a prominent cardiologist and the nephew of two retired state senators, he's set on summitting the world's seven tallest peaks. Everest was next on the list; he's done five, immersing himself in foreign cultures.
"If there's not some sort of danger involved, I figure it's not going to be much of an adventure," Holland said.
He planned to do Everest without the help of Sherpa carriers, handling hundreds of pounds of equipment by himself by moving it up the mountain in stages.
Braided wrist bands from Tanzania and Peru and a green stone necklace from New Zealand speak to past adventures.
He's seen the stunning beauty of Denali in Alaska and yearns to see the deserts of Ethiopia.
"My biggest problem is learning to be patient; you have to learn to take one day at a time," he said.
Adversity is an adventure, and he said he's putting off a more stable life until the world has worn out some of its welcome.
"I can put everything I own in the back of a pickup," he said.
He made it to China in January, after riding across the United States on a bicycle in 36 days. He flew to China and then took trains and more bikes to the western part of the country.
He was aware of China's crackdown on Buddhist monks in Tibet but never equated the uproar with his plan for the flag, hatched when he spotted the emblem in a Katmandu souvenir shop.
Now he's got to recoup his losses, collect his equipment, and get back to cutting trees. His Ridgeline Trees LLC has funded all his adventures.
"I'll find three guys to work for me and it will be back to work six days a week, from sunrise to 10 p.m. each day," he said
Sooner or later he wants to go the medical school. "Something like Doctors Without Borders is appealing to me," he said.
But old age won't come without a fight and more adventures.
"In my family, the saying is, 'It's better to live till 50 like a bull than to 100 like a mouse."