Take me home

Country road

To a place

I belong

I’ve heard John Denver’s Country Road a couple of times here in Pokhara, including a techno remix, and it’s kind of found a way to play on repeat in my head.  We’re finally getting ready to start our trek tomorrow morning after a lazy few days here in town.  Pokhara is a sleepy village, in the valley of the Annapurna mountains and running alongside a river.  It reminds me of a ski village.  Everyone here is either finishing up a trek or going to start one soon, with most in the former category.  It’s pretty easy to meet people here which is cool and topics of conversation generally revolve around:

  • Obama
  • where you came from before you were in Pokhara
  • where you are going after Pokhara
  • which trek you did
  • how long you are traveling for
  • what we’ve learned about life and ourselves in our travels
  • what we’re going to do the rest of the day, which for me means what I will hopefully accomplish in the next day or two. 

There’s no urge to move quickly here and I find I’m in this constant battle with myself to want to be productive and get stuff done but also wanting to just chill out.  So far the latter has been winning and I’m happy about that.  And I’m amazed I’ve still managed to buy all the gear I need (including a sweet yellow North Face jacket), to go to the trekking office and get the pass to enter the Annapurna region (it’s 2000 Rupees, about $25)…and I thought I had more to write about but those are my primary accomplishments these past few days.  I did manage to find a hookah bar which we went to last night which does nothing whatsoever to help me with my trek but I’m not one to turn down a hookah opportunity.

We’re getting a somewhat late start in the trekking season but I’m looking forward to walking in some snow and with less crowds.  We’ve got a climb up to 17.700 feet about a week in and that’s where it’s supposed to be freezing.  Actually that’s all anyone has told us about the trek is how cold it gets.  No one has talked about what there is to see or anything.  Interesting.  I’ll try and relate more than weather stories, although all stories will probably come after I’m done trekking as internet is sporadically available during the trek and is not cheap when it is.

We’ll be doing what is known as the ‘teahouse trek’ where you spend your nights in teahouses where you get a bed and a hot meal, and if you’re lucky some hot water.  It’s the most popular route in Nepal which makes it a good beginner trek with all the provisions being readily available and the big thing is you don’t have to carry a tent, just a sleeping bag.  Some people take guides and porters (sherpas) with them but we’re just going on our own.  It just feels like the ‘right way’ to do it.

The trek will be around 2-3 weeks, depending on how slow/fast I go and whether I decide to take some detours, like going to a lake that is a day or two off the main trail.  I’m really looking forward to it and feel much more prepared than I was before doing the Camino this summer.  I’ve got my small backpack pared down to the absolute minimum, got my meds and blister remedies ready to go and my water purifyier ready to purify some Nepalese water.  And my Emergen-C packets to make sure everything runs smoothly. 

One downer is my friend Anton from Barcelona is not going to be joining me on the trek, as we had originally planned to do.  He just found out he may need to return to Spain much sooner than he anticipated so he’s in a holding pattern for now.  It’s a bummer but now I’m really glad we got to meet up in Delhi back in early October (that feels like it was 6 months ago).

And I’m out of here.  I’ve got to wake up early tomorrow to catch a 6:30 a.m. bus to a place called Behishahar from where we’ll start out trek.  Jim is checking his email next to me, Cesar is calling Mexico and after this we’ll head back and watch Touching the Void, an inspiring movie about a hardcore mountain climber to inspire us on our trek.