We’ve given up on the propane-fueled space heater that came with our flat (here in Patan, Nepal), not because of the semi-open flames, but because our propane tank leaks and we decided to put it outside the flat, and our landlord is having trouble getting us a new one- he says there is a propane shortage in Nepal.

But we’ve adjusted, and it’s only dropping into the forties at night. We wear socks and sweaters, and drink tea, and I purchased a “hot water bag,” which, in other parts of the world, you might call a hot water bottle.

While browsing Indian County Today, which I’ve followed sporadically since getting back from Alaska, I learned that the propane shortage isn’t limited to Nepal (which relies on India for imports). The price per gallon has doubled in the US. The first headline I saw on ICT readStanding Rock Sioux Woman Dies During Propane Shortage in Sub-Zero Temperatures.” And lest we think our propane space heaters, or the propane gadget on our shower that ignites with a “FOOM” sound we want hot water, are anything exotic, the article continues, “Nearly 90 percent of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation’s residents use propane to heat their homes.”

I’m halfway around the world, learning how little I know about my own country.