Nepalese Notebook: September 23rd, 2014

September 23rd, 2014

Chyamche 1450m.

First view of the Annapurna range this morning.  Passing through Tililje (2300m.) earlier, we found a man at the mill grinding his roasted barley and parched corn mix.  He was quite surprised that I offered to buy some, the ground roasted barley being known as Tsampa, considered a staple ingredient to many of those living in the mountainous regions and outlying areas, oftentimes being mixed with parched corn. The intermediaries who dealt with the affair seemed rather tentative to approach the man because the grain was more essential to his family's needs than the money that was eventually paid for it.  Nevertheless I found myself with a rather large plastic bag full of the mix, which had the most fragrant and pleasing odor.  It was perhaps this mix of Tsampa and parched corn that made me feel closer to anything Nepalese or Himalayan during the whole extent of our trip, but many would be befuddled by how bland and unattractive the taste actually is.
The walk was long and somewhat repetitive today, the small villages we passed such as Tilije were beautiful in the sense that the ancient signs of Buddhism almost vanished into the obscurity of these centuries old stopovers, overrun by the growth of the rampant marijuana plant.  In Chyamche, we had the luxury of our own private bungalow in a private garden, which had every detail and style of being some beach-side resort of the 50's or 60's, but was lost and crumbling away in that age as well.  We were served a chicken dinner with a fine gravy, fries, a spring roll, and a beer.  The reason for this jump in luxury was our arrival on the Annapurna circuit, it being much more developed than the Manaslu, which we left at the bridge-crossing of Dharapani, finding a slow procession of trekkers moving up towards Annapurna in the opposite direction, whereas in the days before we had passed maybe a handful of trekkers the whole time.  The last view of the summit of Manaslu can be seen from this bridge.
Douglas Thornton


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