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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 16th, 2014

September 16th, 2014

Lho 3180m. 


Arrived in the buffer zone of Tibet.  The landscape has gone from jungle to high plateau in the matter of a week.  Aside from all this though, there is something more pervasive, it is as if we have crossed an invisible barrier and now the opposites that seemed so far apart--good and bad, rich and poor, beautiful and ugly, all those things perhaps which define our lives--have been gathered into one original intention, the place where all things start.  Maybe it was that the first breath, the first thought, or the first idea, came down from such high mountains.  It is difficult not to fall in to the feeling that something sacred is at work, but the contradictory nature of all things at this level of altitude, perhaps even at this level of moral judgment, is of far greater importance and exceeds any majority.
Temples have appeared out of the clouds; people come back from the higher altitudes looking dazed and enter in and out of the tea-houses without cere…

Nepalese Notebook: September 15th, 2014

September 15th, 2014

Namrung 2680m.


We awoke with a view of the Syarang covered in snow, mountains that reach up to 6000m with Tibet just behind them.  Seeing these heights for the first time, our vision seems stunted, not yet ready to take in their massive presence, such that when we think to have found the summit of one of them, we must lift our eyes still further to see the actual spot. We crossed over to the other side of the river this morning, and on our way down we found a pepper-tree that we ate berries from, having a lemony flavor but rather overbearing taste; they are supposedly a remedy against the altitude.  After our ascent on the other side, and passing through a couple Buddhist chortans with impressive rock carvings and paintings, our trail wound along the edges of dangerous cliffs.  Arriving at the end of those, we found a group of merchants with a tarp laid down on the ground and a mound of rice in the middle, each gathering what he needed to mix with his dhal; they sh…

Nepalese Notebook: September 14, 2014

September 14th, 2014

Dyang 1860m.


The mountains grow and the scenery has taken on a massive aspect; rocks, trees, or the sky, no longer have that habitual feeling but seem to turn the absolute most normal thing into a sacred and almost surreal picture.  We are always repeating: 'This is different...  This is bigger...  This is strange...' but there is really no time to savour any of it, not because we are moving so fast or cannot take our time on the trail, but because we do not realize all of these sights are interior, and before we have tried to cope with them, they have already become a part of our imagination and ideal.  Lunch this afternoon was one of the best we have had so far. Our tea-house tonight is quaint and we are the only visitors.  Here they cook by wood-fire, and smoke from the kitchen fills the whole dining area.  From our table we can see that we are surrounded by high mountains now, but cannot yet see the tops, and to pass the time to evening we look out, hud…

Nepalese Notebook: September 13th, 2014

September 13th, 2014

Upper Jagat 1340m.

The country people are remarkable for their stature and muscle though none of them are very tall.  A boy of no more than 8 or 9 years old came up the trail today carrying a bag of damp sand from the river bottom; it must have been at least 50 pounds and as tall as him because he had to bend over with the tumpline almost perpendicular to the ground to be able to move forward.  Further down we saw the father and another boy filling up more bags to be taken in turn, and these, as we found out, were for house-constructing and repairs.  A woman in the village before, where we stopped for refreshments, spoke in a rather lively tone of voice about how she wanted to have 12 children with her husband, already had 3, and was pushing 31 years old. After we passed the hot springs of Tatopani where we cleansed our hair and face, the more prevalent signs of Tibetan culture began to appear, most notably the women wearing vibrantly coloured aprons of knitted woo…

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…