It’s been a really long week. When we came back to Pokhara yesterday early morning from our 8 day trek, I was still so tired that I tried to wash my hair with body lotion. I didn’t even realize this mistake until later in the day when I went to look for my lotion. FYI: lotion is not a good substitute for conditioner, in case you are wondering.
My last week in Chitwan was really fun. I took a weekend trip to see the birthplace of Bhudda in Lumbini with a couple of the other volunteers.
When we came back, we celebrated Holi with the kids in daycare and the next day with the kids in the village. The kids are brutal when it comes to the color. Try as I might to keep my eyes and mouth closed, their grubby little hands found a way to pry them open and fill them with color.
My contacts were tinted pink at the end of the day and my mouth felt like I had been laying in the ground licking dirt all day. I think at one point, one of the boys ran out of color, so he scooped up some mud (or at least, I really hope it was just mud) and spread it all over my face before I knew what was happening. My two weeks of volunteering seemed so short, but I have to admit that I was pretty excited to move on to something different.
Rob met up with me in Chitwan (he had just finished a job in Chennai, India) and we made our way up to Pokhara to start our trek around the Annapurnas. It was quite the adventure to say the least and a really interesting way to see a lot of country and meet a lot of different people. The Annapurna Circuit Trek is a teahouse style trek, so every night we ended up in a small town where there were guesthouses with beds, (sometimes hot) shower, and food.
I’m still trying to process the whole adventure. As the days went on, it became really hard to keep the days straight and your mind focused. In fact, I stupidly lost my phone halfway through because I was too busy thinking about apple pie to realize that I left my phone on the table. It’s long gone now and the photos I took of playing Holi with the daycare kids are lost to me forever. My only consolation is the fact that I did bring my camera with me on the trek and so I was able to still capture a lot of moments (when I remembered to). Each day was more amazing than the last until we reached the pinnacle of the journey: crossing the Therong-La Pass.
It was what everyone on the trail was working towards and what we were all trying desperately to acclimate ourselves to higher and higher elevations for. That day we ascended 1000m in about 5 hours and after shooting a few photos, drinking tea at the teahouse up there (!) and eating a chocolate bar, we quickly got the hell out of there and began our 1600m descent. At this point, we (along with the other trekkers we met along the way) started experiencing pounding headaches and nausea. I don’t think the 5416m elevation agreed with us very much. I’ve never had noodles and apple pie taste so good in my life as I did when we got down to the next village. After making the cross through the pass, it seemed like it was all over, but we still had to make it down to Jomsom to catch a flight back to Pokhara. We were going to rent mountain bikes to make it to Jomsom, but they were all booked up by the other trekkers, so we stole a motorbike and ripped down the road to Jomsom.
Just kidding, we just rented the bike and I mostly held onto Rob with pure terror in my heart as we drove down the “road” and through the river bed. That was probably the most uncomfortable ride ever that my mother would definitely not approve of. I certainly did not approve of the turbo-prop plane out of Jomsom to Pokhara the following morning either. The pilots were great, but damn, were we close to the mountains. It certainly didn’t help that someone mentioned that sometimes the pilots will find “rocks” in the clouds. It took me a few seconds to sort that one out, but when I did, I did not feel good about it. But all is well that ends well. We’re biding our time in Pokhara (I even ran into my volunteer friends here, amazingly enough) and will make our way to Kathmandu tomorrow and Bangkok, Thailand in a few days!