I decided to write today, even if I have no Internet connection. Maybe tomorrow, at our second lodge, I’ll be able to go online. Anyways, here I am and that’s just how Asia works!
We got to Nepal after two days of flying and one day touring Zurich. The airport was still exactly the way I remembered it – only much calmer because of the time we’d arrived. So, filling out papers, paying the US$25 fee and handing in our pictures for the Nepalese visa was an easy process.
We stayed in Kathmandu for one and a half days, which continued to be really chaotic and very similar to how I remembered it, but infinitely more populated.
Traffic, which was already unbelievable in 1995, became a honking chaos, where the old tuk tuks and three wheeled scooter-taxis, typical of Asia, gave way to coundless motorcycles. No matter where you looked there were people, cars and more motorcycles! I admit I missed the tuk tuks and it was nice to revisit the temples, stupas and feel the peaceful mixture of Buddhism and Hinduism. It’s a real mishmash of goddesses and prayer flags of Nepal’s different religions.
Still dazed with Kathmandu’s mess, we left in the morning with Yeti Airlines to Pokara, where our trekking would begin. Aboard a turbo-prop, we were there less than 30 minutes later. Pokara was cute, much cleaner and more organized than the capital and has very few motorcycles.
Our guides and our six porters, all women, were waiting for us at the airport with beautiful smiles on their faces. Some porters wore tennis shoes, others flip-flops; but they were all ready to take our things up the mountain.
Lots of the Trekking Girls are bothered with this situation: women just like us, carrying close to 30 kilos in baskets on their backs, aided only by bands of cloth on their foreheads.
Of course I’m not absolutely comfortable with it either, but considering Nepal’s situation and their really low per capita income, I thinks it’s cool that they have jobs on the tourism industry. And I think that if they weren’t carrying our things, they’d be probably carrying rice or potatoes instead. At least with tourists they learn a little about the world and they get nice tips and clothes.
A little before mid-day we started our hike on a dirt road in the middle of a valley, with the sound of water constantly beside us. We went up about 1km, had a chicken sandwich at a picnic point and followed downhill towards the river where the water noise had been coming from. Almost seven kilometers, a suspended bridge and many pictures later, we arrived at our first lodge, the Sanctuary.