Pokhara, Nepal. October 2014.
Pokhara is beautiful. Everyone moves at an individually selected pace and never complains. Food delays are treated not with apology but nonchalance. The hostel owner and I establish a relationship based in insulting one another. We meet four Germans and one American. There is the usual “Where are you from/Indian food is my favorite food” talk but politeness is soon dissolved.
Now, two days later everyone sits in circles and makes fun of each other’s music. Basti and Dieter have gotten into a serious conversation about hip-hop which I try to be part of but am ignored. Someone suggests we must get food, everyone cheers, but that is also ignored. It is 8:30, someone else announces and everyone gasps because it feels like much later. Today there are many others — Canadian, Australian, Dutch and it feels like a festival. People stumble over drinks, into the muddy garden caused by two days of torrential rain, feet dampen but spirits do not.
One day we went to a bar where Matthias danced, Dieter talked to everyone and I sulked. Everything was very typical. Today we are at the lake and the stars are very bright. Everyone tries to spot constellations. Willem says if this was his lake he’d sell it, Dieter hops on rocks and occasionally crouches to make very strong rum drinks and say nice things to everyone. Everything is still very typical. Every night ends in a similar stumbling to bed after bottles of Nepalese wine or something equally dodgy. Every night is also filled with claims of not doing the same thing tomorrow which evaporate as quickly as said.
Now it is three days later. Dieter and I are at a Hindu temple and we peek into a Nepalese wedding where everyone dances in turn. A group of old Nepalese men wear funny hats and played long pipes. Dieter talks to kids at the temple, who refuse to talk to me because I’m a girl. They ask him if he likes Wiz Khalifa and this is funny.
Now, it is four days later. Maybe five? We’ve stayed much longer than we planned. There is disaster in the mountains but we have planned to leave tomorrow. Things are falling into place. 29 people have died but it is hard to feel tragedy when you are surrounded by your friends. The seriousness of it all hits us at different points and there are solitary moments of silence. Matthias has gone to kayak and we have chosen to stay back and pick hammocks over exercise. The sky is very blue and there are flags moving very slowly in the wind. I feel both content and cliché as I watch them. There is disaster in the mountains, but right now, under clear skies and infinite cups of tea, I feel invincible.
In late 2014, my friends and I spent two months in Nepal. We crossed the mountains, swam in the rivers, and got aquainted with a country and a people that were kind, resilient, and eternal. My heart goes out to them in their time of need. Come back soon, Nepal.