"You have now left hell and entered into heaven," were the first words spoken to me after I crossed the Nepal border. "Sure, sure," I thought. Little did I know that those words would become my mantra. Nepal, the rooftop of the world, is a dream. An organic wash of greens, grays, browns, and blues cover the landscape, dotted with ramshackle little villages and a patchwork of terraces. Rising above it all are the Himalayas, which tower in the distance, framing the whole scene with jaw-dropping beauty. It's just coming to the dry season, one of the best times of year to be here as everything is still green, but the skies are mostly clear and it's not too hot. The only sign of the chaos of India is a smoggy haze, blown up from the south, that sometimes lingers in the air.
|Walking on the elephant|
|Trainer on his elephant|
Next it was off to Pohkara where I was the random western guest at a Nepali wedding. How did this come about you may ask? Well I happened to be walking down the street when a massive bus with a 5 piece band on the roof drove by. Liking the apparent party bus I waved and clapped at them, and then they stopped and asked if I wanted to see a Nepali wedding. Really? Hell yes I do! So off I went in my hiking boots, dirty jeans, and 3 days unwashed hair. I was introduced and passed around and tried to make conversation with only broken English to play with. I watched the ceremony quietly wondering if the bride or groom were wondering why the hell there was a random white girl at their wedding . . .but they didn't seem to even notice or care. Everyone kept asking me if I liked to dance and not knowing what I was getting myself into, I said sure. Before I knew it the band was being reassembled and everyone was shouting at me to dance. I was being dragged against my will by both my hands, so what could I do? Before I knew it I was busting a move with 3 Nepali guys to indecipherable music with about 70 people watching. I tried to encourage more to join but no one would budge. So, as a last resort, I looked around for the alcohol at this party, I needed a drink badly, but alas there didn't seem to be any! It was an equally humiliating and hilarious experience.
Next I arrived in Kathmandu. Despite some hype, the city resembled most of those of the third world, a tangled maze of indistinguishable streets, congested traffic, too many people, and too many piles of trash. After India, I was anxious to get out of the city, so me and two guys I was with promptly booked an overnight white water rafting trip down the Bhota Khosi. The first day was fairly mellow, we meandered our way through the mountainous jungle , impressive terraces, and picturesque little villages perched on the sides of cliffs. Children could see us coming and would thunder down the river banks screaming "Naaamaaasstte!" and waving vigorously. It was just us, our boat, and a few friendly Nepali along the way. We swam a bit and jumped off some cliffs, even though the water was icy cold. As we floated under a suspension bridge (very popular in Nepal), a line of crimson robed monks stopped to watch us pass beneath them. As we came closer, they waved, and I noticed one monk pull a cell phone out of his pocket and take a picture of us. A small reminder that the modern world is creeping in everywhere, even in a land seemingly so medieval.
|Me in Pohkara with Himalayas behind|
So that concludes the highlights of what's happened up until the trek. Hopefully I'll be able to catch up quickly when I get back to civilization! Until then :)