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 real, and though left behind, not wholly forgotten. We feel ourselves trying to understand or trying to interpret, but as they pass we can only grasp at it, not content with leaving it whole, analyzing and extracting, ever at odds with our perception, and always believing in a deeper meaning.  We know what it could be, but it is not that, and as we sit atop the elephant, riding along at the end of the day the various paths of the darkening jungle, our driver meticulously wraps something in a leaf and places it in the crevice of a tree we pass--I watch as the driver behind us takes it down, but for as long as I look, he does not open it.
The walk back from the river brought us across some tiger tracks, which were invigorating to examine and seemed to exude a sort of savage life, but our guide joked that the tigers were not so big in these parts.  Before arriving, we had to stop to pull the leeches off our clothes.  We leave for Manaslu and the Himalayas tomorrow.

Douglas Thornton


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