This is me flashing back to Beirut with rocket propelled grenades (RPGs), then I suddenly felt at ease thinking Nepal is a poor country with poor people they can't afford RPGs...
We are all trying to figure out what to do when the group starts to split with most crossing the protest line to try their luck at transport on the other side.
The protest escalates leaving us the procrastinators to sit it out for a couple more hours.
A couple hours into the night things settle down and we see the army sitting down, and we figure this is a better time than any to make our way across to the other side... And we make it across without incident my eight philosophical just-out-of-the-army weapon carrying new Israeli friends and I, and that was just the easy part. When we get to the other side it was a six hour effort to get back to the town where my stuff rested. There were threats, window breaking, blackmail, name calling, negotiation, and currency exchange involved, but to make a long story short we arrive all in one piece in a nice jeep around three am.
And the next day was the Nepali new year...so I had to party like it was 2066 ;) Because in Nepal it WAS 2066 My goddess life can be an adventure
This is pretty much what I saw for three hours of the ride.
Some of my fellow travellers brought their little book of Hebrew philosophy with them and decided now is a good a time as ever to share some of it. I surprisingly love being serenaded with all that Israeli wisdom while flying round the corners on a back Himalayan road.
Some Canadians decided this was the perfect time to break open that home grown Nepali whiskey they had purchased and damn near bought out the whole store next to the bus station. My oh my what are all those Nepali alcoholics going to do without there fire water until the next truck comes? They did share however, and soon we had flasks, bottles, plastic chai cups and everything else that would hold some liquid in it going around the top of this ready to burst bus. It was a make shift party if I ever saw one.
And only about an hour or so after the alcohol started flowing did the bus stop abruptly...and hearsay of a Maoist rebel protest brewed...
None of us spoke Nepalese, none of us knew what was going on and none of us knew what to do, but that didn't stop some people from doing something... Some went to find the nearest liquor store Some went to find a toilet Some went to check out what was going on Some went to take photos Some got into a argument with the bus driver and some rolled and smoked a joint and I...well I watched the circus and couldn't stop thinking "oh fuck not another Lebanon..."
Along the trail I kept seeing that communist sign with the tools you know...and only toward the end of the trail did I start paying more attention to them, then I found one in English which would foreshadow my next two days...
This was the road from the trail end back 4-8 hours (depending on the roads and "rebel activity" to the town where I had left my big bag of stuff.
Ok so from the trail end I walked the 13 km to the bus stop, waited in the bus two hours in the blistering heat only to give up my prize seat to a fellow snow-blind trekker. Which didn't matter as that bus broke down two hours into in and we had to make our way onto an already overly full bus...so the only spare room for a bus full of foreigners was on the top. It was ridiculously overcrowed we ALL had limbs hanging over the side and laying all over each other.
This was the seat I got...in the middle which from the next picture's view over the edge seemed not to be so bad. I didn't have to worry about pissing my pants every time we came to the edge or turned a corner.
That is a good couple hundred meters straight down on a bus that is suppose to fit 25 seated comfortably with actually about 42 passangers inside and about 27 people on top, three hanging out the door, and four hanging on the bumper out the back...and I think I am UNDERestimating the number...
So this was my strategy walk as long as I could everyday and when I was tired find a place to sleep. When the trail forked just wait until someone came along and follow them. That strategy only took me so far before I realized I walked for three days in circles...so I adjusted my stategy and then every night after I found a place to sleep for the night I found a foreigner with a map and asked where we were and various other questions, then I proceeded to take a photo of the map and memorize the name of the next place I thought I could make it to the next day...Well that only worked for two days as after asking about six people to look at there maps I soon realized that all six of those maps were quite different and the names of the places are quite similar. So I adopted my last and final strategy...fuck trekking along just follow someone with a map and if we got lost blame them! Worked lik a charm!
After six or seven days of up Up and UP the trail finally started going down and I being the insane person I am decided to mimic the "Base Camp Racers" I saw the previous day and decided to start running. Mind you those BCR they RAN from base camp to one village that would take "normal" people 2-3 days to hike in ONE day...But I still decided if they could do it, well I could too. AND actually I could too if it weren't for the bloody lady bugs everywhere and my damn Jainist ways. The whole range (below alpine) is littered with gorgeous pine forests and the ground blaketed with lady bugs. Now I am kind of a don't-like-to-kill-anything kind of girl especially a lady buy and EVEN MORE SO LADY BUGS HAVING SEX. As I was running down one mountain I was very careful where I stepped and one after another I pranced down until I was going a little fast and I almost stepped on what I saw a a good session of some lady bug love so I tried to catch my step and tumbled my lady-bug-saving ass down the mountain and cut my knee open. This is a pic of the surviving lady bugs still going at it as I became a bug-porn photographer with a swelling knee.
I continued after a short break...walking down the rest of the trail.
My fellow trekking friend who was an amazing companion to share getting lost in the mountains with! (the pole is on its way John!)
The last sight of Annapurna I had before heading back to civilization
Well I wasn't prepared for alpine this was true but never in my wildest dreams did I think it was going to hail?!?!?! And oh did it hail for like 3-4 hours and make my hiking through a muddy forest a lot more interesting...
It was so beautiful to watch, but many people at the lodge were also a bit upset as it was time consuming... My fellow trekkers all used their 3-4 hours very differently: one whiped out his Economist and started reading about the economic flight that the world is in the middle of over coming, another decided to comense the drinking with a couple bottles of beer, yet another decided to feast on the Nepalese delicacies of french fries and a hamburger-all the while complaining the tomato sauce in Nepal was too sweet and there were the porters and guides in the corner sipping on their milky-sweet Napalese chai. I just watched the hail through the backdrop of that magnificent mountain in awe.
Well I didn't make it to base camp...seeing as I would have two more days hiking up to more cold and steaper hauls. But I made it as far to see this incredible view and I would say it was worth it!
As my trip to India had taken a ridiculously negative dive I decided to take a break from it all and head to Nepal to do some trekking...well needless to say I was unprepared I never intended in my WHOLE trip around the world to be anywhere even remotely cold. Well the alpine climate of the Himalayas is certainly NOT the tropics I had prepared my wardrobe for. Nevertheless I needed to go trekking and release some of the demons India brought out in me so I proceeded straight to the drop off for the Annapurna trail and I started my hike with no guide, no map, no porter and no idea really where I was going nor what part of Nepal I was even in.
(anger makes people do some crazy things sometimes)
Me starting out on the top of a local Nepalese bus...and it only got more exciting from there.
After two days of not stop UP and following women carrying baskets at every fork in the trail, the view was beginning to be worth it. This is a view laying on my bed from my room on my third night on the trail.
Waking up in the alpine morning with tropical gear after a night of freezing my ARSE off and second thinking the whole base camp goal...
A view from along the hiking trail...some where between base camp and the beginning of the trail. Four days into it and about 13 forks in the road and perhaps passed 7 or 8 small villages ( I told you I didn't have a map so don't expect names of anything)
My fourth night humble Himalayan accommodations...which I shared with a fellow trekker who without having been so nice would have seen my ass trekking the next four hours in the dark UP a mountain to get to the next available room. THANKS MATE I OWE YOU ONE!!!
A worldwide survey was conducted by the UN. The only question asked was: "Would you please give your honest opinion about solutions to the food shortage in the rest of the world?" The survey was a huge failure... In Africa they didn't know what "food" meant. In Eastern Europe they didn't know what "honest" meant. In Western Europe they didn't know what "shortage" meant. In China they didn't know what "opinion" meant. In the Middle East they didn't know what "solution" meant. In South America they didn't know what "please" meant. And in the USA they didn't know what "the rest of the world" meant.