This blog is approximately two months old, but I’m going to post it anyway. While Central Asia has fast and plentiful wifi, I haven’t found a decent computer until just now, and this half-written post has been slowly decaying in my draft folder for far too long. I promise that it will be closely followed by a more pertinent Central Asia post… maybe in 2 months or so.
So I’ve been in Nepal for a couple of weeks now, and, truth is, with the constant rain, low visibility, leech-laden trails, and water levels too high for most activities, I’ve spent most of my time here just…. chillin. In fact, after two weeks in the country, my greatest accomplishment thus far has been my spectacularly absurd suntan.
I’m also burned across my nose and forehead, and on the tops of my shoulders as well. From what sun, you ask? Iono. The only thing I know is that I have only ever had a couple of sunburns in my life, and am finding that picking off the dead skin with my nails brings indescribable, addictive pleasure. Unfortunately, this means that I’ve been leaving behind a considerable trail of dried skin flakes- at my favorite momo place- at the internet cafe- in the bookshop… and the locals are beginning to find me just a little bit disgusting.
One such local, a nice man named Tanasul, who lives in a little hut halfway between Pokhara and Sarangkot, took it upon himself to lecture me about Western culture and our love of the indoors. “You work all the hours of your day,” he chided, thoughtfully picking out a few corn kernels from a muslin satchel and popping them in his mouth. “You have no life. Go work, dark. Come work, dark.” He then emphatically spit the kernels onto the ground for his pet chickens, Peter and Lucy (Peter and Lucy, meanwhile, paid no mind to these once-molested kernels, and instead busied themselves with the steady stream of virgin ones flowing, unchecked, from a rip in the bottom of said muslin bag). I couldn’t argue. Fact is, I hadn’t really been-outside been-outside for over two years. Most of my time spent out of doors was transiting from work or school to work or school. All the stress left by such a demanding schedule also meant that I hadn’t purposefully exercised in nearly 7 months. I was soft, white, veiny, and ashamed.
In an effort to shed my idle, shade-loving ways, I woke up early one morning and shouldered all of my belongings for an independent trek up to the small, mountain-top town of Sarangkot. The Wikitravel page had said that the trail was clearly marked, but after 3.5 hours of crawling through waist-high shrubbery, getting chased out of peoples’ backyards, and being led back to the trail by exasperated schoolchildren, I decided to put off the hike back down for another day, and make my way to a guesthouse instead.
Most of my time there, I didn’t do much of anything- since I was the only tourist in town, I pretty much just hung out on the roof of my hostel, blasting Dixie Chicks, reading the latest Palahniuk book, and playing some deranged form of Old Maid with the 8-year old girl who lived downstairs. I took a couple of walks around the village, and even managed to climb up to the viewpoint for sunrise on my last morning in town, but all in all, I relished the opportunity to just sit around and let my mind go blank- for the first time since I started school back in 2013.
No, I didn’t do much, but my time here was probably the most memorable of my month in Nepal. At home, there’s such a strong desire to maximize every day- to fill it with tasks and responsibilities, and to make use of every minute. This is quadruply true of my last few years of school. I’m ashamed to say that there were not only a few times that suppered on Doritos while standing in the shower- an act which I had considered to be a grand and masterful use of my ever-scarce “personal time.” Having a few days to sit back, think, and mindlessly pick at my sunburn while breathing in the cool mountain air was just what I needed to shake off the yoke of grad school and remember what had brought me there in the first place. Doing absolutely nothing finally cleared my head. It made me right again.
Anyway, I don’t have a lot else to say. Nepal was lovely, but I never did get any of those classic mountain-top shots that epitomize travel in the region. Instead of hiking the Annapurna trail or rafting the Bagmati, I spent most of my time here finding my way around a plate a of momos and cleaning lint flakes out my belly-button. I suppose I’ll just have to go back.
“Yet it is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top.” — Virginia Woolf