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Nepalese Notebook: September 25th, 2014

September 25th, 2014Besi Sahar 760m.
You never expect it, but the high mountains soon give way to the low, and the day comes when it is cloudy and humid and easy to forget what is near.  Everything simply disappears without importance, and even if we believe in it, have seen it with our own eyes and accept it wholeheartedly, the lapse is too great, change is too certain, and what was once a thousand year old glacier is now the fountain you drink out of.  Now it is only a busy little Nepalese town where colorful buses pass, where street vendors and shops remind you of the growing indifference of what had once seemed normal, and a fleeting sense of accomplishment gives way to restlessness.  Could we have done more?  Having the trek over is short-lived, and looking back upon the hardships of the trail reminds one of a melancholic sort of comfort that creates new adventures and even more hardships before the time it takes your muscles to recuperate from the previous journey.  Pushing onese…

Nepalese Notebook: September 12th, 2014

September 12th, 2014

Machhakhola 869m


Many bugs fill our room tonight, which overlooks a small street near the water-pump where everyone in the village comes to congregate.  The looks of the people here are menacing and berating and we can only keep our heads down and act in a kindly way though it serves little purpose.  From the rooftop, we may discern in any one direction 3 or 4 waterfalls of enormous height plunging down from the cliffs into the river; some even coming out of the clouds, where hidden beyond, they flow from the upper Himalayan range. The trail ran high over the river today, the weather cloudy and humid for the most part; half of the time our clothes were damp and covered by a mist, but whether it was from rain, or the gushing of the waterfalls, was hard to tell.  Before arriving at Machhakhola, we crossed through a large river-bed surrounded by cliffs on either side which, when the Budhi Gandaki begins to flood here in the rainy season, must fill and make the river a…

Nepalese Notebook: September 11th, 2014

September 11th, 2014

Soti Khola 700m.

Kindness is without a voice and lives in quiet places, and when it is secluded, it is wide-eyed, rugged, and delicate.  We have come to the end of the gravel road that leads from Arughat; behind us lies an unstable bridge and before us a deep gorge with a new bridge spanning its edges.  The donkey caravans pass through, however, loaded with bags of unknowable merchandise for Tibet, and this turns out to be somewhat of a comfort as we sit on the porch of our guest-house and watch them.  The family that owns this place consists of a grandfather and grandmother, their two daughters, one child and one baby, the baby and the child being so well cared for that I could not tell to which daughter they belonged.  Sometimes we want so much to experience something that we forget to be genuine, and it almost seemed in vain to compliment our hosts for their cooking or their care because of how uninhibited they were amongst themselves.  The grandmother carlessly…

Nepalese Notebook: September 10th, 2014

September 10th, 2014

Arughat Bazar 608m

3 hours of muddy road in a pick-up have brought us to our starting point on the banks of the Budhi Gandanki.  We passed buses stuck in ruts the length of a man's leg and watched as the drivers tried to dig their way out, some rocking the bus from one side to the other, others pointing down to the hole and calling out orders, while all the passengers stood alongside, jumping on the moment the bus seemed to free itself, but then hopping back off once they saw it was going nowhere.  Only once or twice did these buses actually block our passage, the rest of the time we drove right by on the edges of the mountain track.
Arughat is the most isolated town I have been to, but it has not the sort of magic and mystery one would expect from such a place.  The street that leads into and out of town, as if it were made from just misplaced rocks, is lined with mountain gear shops, ration stores, and tea-houses; there are no visible Buddhist temples and all…

Nepalese Notebook: September 9th, 2014

September 9th, 2014

A short walk yesterday evening took us through grassland and along the river Rapti.  When we had proceeded far enough from the habitations, we were met by a black rhino not but 20 meters away, swishing his tail in a rather annoyed manner until he lumbered off to a tiny mud pit into which he sank up to his belly.   There are no boundaries in the jungle and the cries of monkeys in the tops of trees or the crocodiles that distractingly appear and disappear only a few meters away as you float down the river in a dugout, fill the gaze with a very shallow alertness that seems to focus on everything but what one is trying to focus on.  At times, our guide stood up in the canoe to point out a type of kingfisher; at others, he remained seated to let a crocodile pass, but that did not prevent some villagers from cutting fodder along the banks or casting out a net to fish.  The whole scene, instead of being impregnated with simplistic beauty, was out of place, nothing truly r…

Nepalese Notebook: September 8th, 2014

September 8th, 2014

Chitwan

Chitwan: the Nepalese Terai, the land of the Tharu.  These are the lowlands of the Himalaya, a vast jungle filled with rhinos, tigers, and crocodiles, interspersed with the irrigated fields of the natives.  From Kathmandu it is a 5 hours bus ride along narrow and sometimes precipitous roads in which the drivers take every advantage of passing one another regardless of blind curves or the stories of overturned buses only days before.  And yet the driving is not reckless; for when you see your driver passing another bus without any hope of gauging a head-on collision, you are able to find in his unshakeability a small comfort, knowing that the danger he has put you in, he may now save you from, as he swerves back with amazing dexterity only seconds before another bus would have brought upon your ruin. This is only one of the shocks though; the city of Kathmandu itself holds more than one could ever imagine; danger becomes no more than an inability to understan…