My body is still cleansing itself of Nepal. Little did I know that my trip would cause involuntary and voluntary consumption of various foreign properties such as dead Hindus, Nepalese and Indian food, Sherpa moonshine, homemade wine, Kathmandu dust, tea house open fire stove smoke and pollution caused by burning garbage and ridiculous amounts of vehicle exhaust. Not to mention jetlag. The way home consisted of four flights of 23 hours in the air over a 29-hour time period.
I got home Sunday afternoon and promptly slept until the next morning with the exception of intermittent waking up from odd short dreams that left me wondering where the hell I was. I’d only regain semi-consciousness realizing I was at home which confused me because my dream had me spinning a prayer wheel in the mountains or touching a Shiva in Bhaktapur or hiking through a forest of rhododendrons, but really I was on my couch. Weird.
Some people go to Disneyland. Disneyland is for pussies. Nepal is where it’s at. You want a rollercoaster? Go trekking in Nepal. Talk about ups and downs! You know how normal trails like the ones here in the Rockies utilize switchbacks like a wide Z going up the mountain? Well in Nepal, everyone walks everywhere and everyone knows the shortest distance between points A and B is a straight line so the honey badger Nepalese don’t give a shit if that straight line is also straight up! I didn’t realize the mountain hikes would be like climbing the Eiffel Tower. Nepal is really just one giant stair master.
There I was nursing one leg with a torn ligament in my knee and it turned out my good leg was the problem when I cramped up on day two of the trek. My fault for not properly hydrating – it made for a slow ending to the day. It didn’t help that I slipped and used my left hand to maintain my balance at the expense of one of my fingernails after smashing it against the face of a rock. The rock won. At this point I felt worthy only of Disneyland. What a pussy I was! Cramped leg, torn knee, bloody finger, on top of being tired in general. I was pissing myself off.
This all sounds like hell doesn’t it? It wasn’t. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Nepal is beautiful, peaceful, friendly, spiritual, mysterious, exhilarating, breathtaking, inspiring, energizing, curious, hopeful, welcoming and full of majesty. It’s a dichotomy that actually makes it all the more appealing.
The challenges Nepal presents make all of the above positive attributes even more fulfilling. Breathing in the ashes and smoke of burning Hindu bodies is bearable when you learn you are across the river from the most sacred Hindu site in the entire world. And you are watching a ritual that has been going on for thousands of years. And then a posse of Shiva worshipping hippy babas blesses you and takes photos with you and you wonder if this is all just a fucked up Wes Anderson directed dream.
The hardships of Nepal are easy to overcome when you find yourself invited in the home of a Sherpa (and by home I mean a structure made of wood, plastic and tarps that reminds me of the forts my kids make in the basement out of blankets and random furniture) and you are chasing tea with the local hooch called washa (whiskey) or rakshi (wine) that you just watched the woman of the house make on the dirt floor of the abode. Am I dreaming again? You pinch yourself and wonder if this is all just some Coen Brothers movie.
And then you are hiking with the Himalayas towering in the far away distance and you come across a monastery that is in itself a colorful display of art that houses a real lama like the Dalai kind rather than the Napoleon Dynamite kind and you get your picture taken with the lama and then you go back outside to rolling hills and ragged peaks so you slap yourself in the face to make sure you didn’t just stumble on to the set of The Sound of Music. Nepal is indeed a dream. A beautiful dream that came to life for me.
This is just a taste of my trip to Nepal. Flavored with a little dead Hindu. I have so many stories in my head, words in my journal and pictures on my phone.
It may take awhile to figure out how to best tell it all in a worthy way. I really got a nice dose of the country with my city tours and mountain treks. And yet time and distance wise, I really only got a sliver of Nepal. But it was enough to show me a unique land and culture that holds some sort of magical spell. A magical spell that throws a harshness over you immediately followed by a beauty that is both physical and spiritual.
As I stood on top of Pikey Peak just after sunrise, with a tiny view of Everest and a huge view of the Himalayas, I thrust my arms into the air and gave out a yell of exhilaration.
I thought about the people I love and how wonderful a life I am fortunate to have and I gave out another warrior yell to the Himalayas. And I thanked them for having me. Physically and spiritually. It was an honor to be there. And it made me realize it is an honor to be here, right now. Take nothing for granted. Love and be loved.