Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The beginning

The past few days have been a sweaty, hectic, blur of airports, rickshaws, and temples, but I have somehow earned an afternoon off to process the massive amounts of information that have been thrown at me. There is just not enough time to do justice to all of the amazing things I have seen, so here is a quick recap of the first, and most chaotic, 24 hours of our journey:

The plane ride was about 21 hours long not including connections. We had a 6 hour layover in Bahrain where I fell asleep sitting up in a chair. When I awoke, a kid was taking a picture of me. I hope that doesn't find its way on the internet. Bahrain was strange. I felt oddly dressed in jeans and a tee shirt. That's the first time I can remember feeling that way. By the time we got to Nepal the sun was rising for the second time in under 20 hours and we could see Mt. Everest out the window of the plane. After landing, we lurched off the plane like zombies and made it to the hotel for a nap.

We took a walking tour of the city that evening. It was not an easy task while jet-lagged. Walking in Kathmandu is like running in swim fins. There are rickshaws, beggars, bicycles, mopeds, and huge trucks all trying to get some place really fast with absolutely no traffic signs. There are potholes everywhere and random steps that lead to nowhere. Everyone is selling things. It smells like incense, street food, and dung. Drivers speed down the narrow streets, inches from your elbows, honking their horns or whistling if they are on bikes. The tourists stick out with their visible distress while small, local children bob and weave through the crowds with ease. I felt clumsy and inebriated.

After our walk we went out to a traditional Nepali restaurant with music and dancing. I was so famished from the plane ride that I snarfed down a full 5 course meal. The Nepalese seem to take great pride in their ability to fill up a plate. After downing the massive meal, vainly attempting to refuse second and third helpings while they shoveled it on my plate, I was pulled from my seat by the dancers and taken on stage to join in some traditional Nepali dancing. The combination of the heavy meal, lack of air conditioning, dancing, and 30+ hours without sleep, put me in a trance on the walk back to the hotel. The humble, aged mattress was the most comfortable thing I had ever laid down on. I passed out into a deep, contented sleep.

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