Instructions for use! This was originally an email that became a web page because it was easier to format that way. There are countless blue links throughout this story. Clicking on one will open a new browser window with either a photo,which in explorer 6, if you put your mouse in the lower right corner, will allow you to expand the image- if it gets bigger. Some links are mp3 files which you will need an mp3 player on your computer to hear. Try winamp or quicktime. This email is extreamly long and was written in the order our trip happened. The web page will not go anywhere and you can read it and come back to it at your leisure as well as forward it to anyone who might enjoy a virtual trip through Nepal. If you experience any problems viewing the files, please email me.
At times I felt I was going insane creating this project and on long walks home I thought I was seeing things....

How do you put into words something that only seems to exist in your
imagination? Kathmandu felt mystical and magical after leaving the
stiflingly hot, congested Bangkok airport. We stepped off the plane and
gazed around. It felt as if we were on a different planet. We drove into
Thamel, the main tourist area and found a place to crash. We headed out to
explore. Kenny fell on hard times. After a crazy experience at the visa office,
I heard some loud shouting. I had noticed tons of police as I walked to the visa office, but
thought that was just the way Nepal was. I headed out and saw huge crowds
marching down the streets. The five political parties were protesting the
kings new ban on more than five people gathering together in public. It
would be an insane few weeks before we left with groups of people here and
there being chased away by the police who ran around with bamboo sticks. At
one point I found myself in the midst of a huge confrontation between the
police and protestors that had the police huddled in a group getting pelted
with bricks, fires in the streets and makeshift barricades in the streets.
People were yelling and shouting and running in every direction and I was
in the middle snapping away with my camera. The parties were trying to get
back into office and "bring democracy into Nepal," but there are mixed
stories about what was really going on. By the time we returned, the
protests had ended, the king having withdrawn his new ban.

After spending 3 weeks in Katmandu-eating 5 rupee samosas, barfing and shitting
our brains out from Giardia and food poisoning and trying to get all of our gear
ready for our month long trek around the Anapurna Circuit, we decided to
stay a few extra days to experience some real local culture. Kenny and Jasper
took flute lessons and Tashi, Matts college buddy who was born in Nepal
had arrived back in the US one day after we arrived and decided to give
us the royal tour. We went to their families community center, ate like kings,
participated in archery competitions, card games and when the live band started to play,
we showed them how the Kuiere (tourists) danced, much to the delight of the girls and
the laughter of the guys and confusion of the adults. It rained daily and
one day we caught the most spectacular lightening storm I’ve ever seen. The
storm lasted hours with bolts of lightening streaking through the sky every
other second, and the most colorful light I’ve ever seen.
After our fill of city life we decided it was time to venture out into the
wilderness. We caught a bus to the trailhead in Besishar, halfway riding on
the roof of the bus
, waving left and right to all the children we passed. We
had no idea what lay ahead of us, but if the landscape that surrounded us as
we headed into the mountains was any indication-we were off to an
excellent start!

We arrived in Besishar, relaxed for an evening, woke up way to early and
began our trek into the Himalayas. The first few days were marked by level
trails snaking thru the hills, across suspension bridges and along the
Marshayangdi river. We encountered our first group of donkeys, with their
bells clanging, and colorful headpieces bobbling up and down and side to
side as the hordes traveled through the mud and muck carrying food and
supplies to some far away village.

The landscape got increasingly more and more spectacular as we made our way
deeper into the wilderness. We watched snow-capped peaks make their grand
appearances from behind the clouds, waterfalls spilled their contents into
gleaming pools, huge hawks and vultures swooped and glided through the sky
in search of a meal and our accommodations became more camp-like.
We pushed further and further, on our way being introduced to butter
tea (tea, butter, and salt all churned together in a long tube) as well as
rock hard cheese that you sucked on for hours waiting for it to break apart
before your teeth did as well as a curry pellets...By the 5th place (Tal) we
crashed at that had the same menu, we realized our choices were limited and
we were amazed at how many different things could be made from a chapati,
such as tortillas, pizza crust and pita bread. Here in Tal Matt sang to me...
After several days of hiking through all sorts of different terrain we
arrived in Ngwall, a small village were Tashis family is from. After about
an hour-long vertical hike we reached the gate that marked the entrance to
the village. (All villages have gates that say things like Tashi Delek(good
luck) or Namaste as well as prayer wheels that you spun counter-clockwise
as you enter.) From Ngwall we had the most spectacular views of Anapurna 2,3 and
4 in front of us and Chulu behind us. Each mountain had a thick layer of white
icing capping it’s top, and glacial blue snow that would reflect its colors if
the sun or moon would hit it just right.

We settled into this tiny village, each one of us dealing with some bout of
sickness as we tried to integrate ourselves into the community. The first
morning we awoke to the most amazing sight. Everything was blanketed in snow!
The mud houses had a thick layer on their roofs and soon after the snow stopped
falling the entire village came out with wooden paddles and began to shovel the
snow of the roofs. I was content to sit by the fire in the kitchen of our
guesthouse and drink tea, but Kenny, Matt and Jasper got out there and started
to help. Soon we were hopping from roof to roof flinging snow in every
direction. This would also mark the beginning of a weeklong snowball fight with
the local village women.

We finished helping the village and met Tashi’s Aunt and Uncle. They spoke no
English and lived in the most amazing mud house. A notched log provided the way
up into the kitchen were we would spend many hours listening to Tashi and his
family converse
, admiring the unique voice of his aunt that gushed joy and love
and the voice of his uncle who has worked so hard, sounding low and raspy, but
filled with joy and love as well. Here began Matt’s love affair with butter tea,
as well as our introduction to buckwheat bread with its spicy garlic and chili
pepper relish.

Tashi’s Aunt and Uncle had a horse that had broken its leg, and we would spend
the next three days trying to save its life. It was pregnant and in horrible
shape. She couldn’t stand and she had been lying on her side for a week and the
weather had been horrible. It seemed futile at the time to me, especially when
my feet were frozen solid and wet, to go and be with her, but it tested us in
amazing ways. None of us knew what we were doing, but as Jasper built a level
area for her and Kenny and Matt tried to splint her leg, I became overwhelmed. I
felt useless-seeing the horse in so much agony and watching as her leg wobbled
back and forth and occasionally feeling her calf kick inside of her. We wanted
to get a gun to put her down, but Uncle wouldn’t let us, so we resolved not to
go back because it was to intense and the horse was going to die and we couldn’t
deal with the helpless feeling that sat in our stomachs and minds. (The day we
left Ngwall she aborted her calf and died.)

Tashi’s grandfather had been a part of introducing Buddhism to this area and he
had an old monastery here. Tashi’s father had given us some prayer flags to put
up and when the weather calmed down a bit we trucked above the village to help
put the flags up. As we left the village a group of monks sitting in a circle
said some prayers over the flags. We had several sets to put up and the first
was the most challenging. We had to lower a huge wooden pole that sat in the
ground surrounded by rocks, and take off the old flags and put a huge new set
on. After a huge group of people came together we managed to lower the pole and
get the new ones attached. We then trucked over to a stone Stupa and placed a
red, green white and yellow set of flags around the Stupa. We felt a wonderful
sense of accomplishment and honored to be a part of something so meaningful!
On another day, Tashi, Matt, Kenny and I scampered high above the village and
visited a cave, while Jasper lay in bed dealing with a bout of giardia. We felt
destroyed by the elevation, after having climbed so high and then going so much
higher above the village every ten steps we would have to stop and take a
breath.(It wouldn’t be the last time!) The cave was basically a crack between
two mountains that was way to narrow to turn your body as well as extremely high
and deep. Basically we had to shimmy thru the entire thing. We snaked along for
two hours into god knows were, following arrows and any signs that others had
been here before. The jagged edges of the rock tugged and played with us as we
headed deeper into the darkness. As the space got tighter and tighter, I got
more uncomfortable, and twice I lost my cool and became overwhelmed, feeling
like I was in mortal danger. Kenny later pointed out that there was nothing
different about the situation. I had gotten into a tight space, but I could just
as easily back out. Later they admitted getting into several difficult
situations themselves. Of all the caves that we explored, this one “twisted my
cap” back the most. After we got out, I was putting myself down for not feeling
in control, but then I realized I had made it out safely and I did the best job
I could in a difficult situation, so I felt a bit more self-confident for
getting out.

We had heard there was going to be a lunar eclipse and celebration the night
of the Buddha’s birthday so we crashed early and set our alarms for 1 am. I awoke and walked
outside to see the clouds obscuring the moon, but I gazed at the monastery and I
could see a bonfire and I heard screaming and howling. Kenny, Matt and I headed
over to the Monastery to see what was going on. The town folk had gotten
together and were banging pots and pans and chanting and singing. We sat by the
fire as the clouds slowly dissipated and a brilliant full moon showed its face.
I noticed that the left side was very slowly being munched away by a shadow. I
decided to wake Jasper and Tashi up and we all watched a complete lunar eclipse
under the Anapurna mountain range in the most surreal of surroundings. I
listened to my friend Spencer sing about, “calling his name and he would be there.” I was
in complete awe!

From Ngwall we headed out to Manang. We spent one night in Tashi’s cousins
place. We visited his other family and it was here that we were introduced to
Seabuckthorn juice, as well as all you can eat trail mix, pistachios, walnuts
and peanuts. (You just don’t understand what becomes a luxury until you are away
from everything.) As we left, we where handed a bag of candy bars, cookies, and
crackers. All of our faces instantly lit up. The next morning we cut for Tilicho
Lake, the world’s highest lake at 5330 meters. None of us knew what we were
getting into when a small boy told us, “yes this path goes to Tilicho.” We spent
the next eleven hours hiking on the riverbed crossing the river via rocks and
logs, handing our bags across and forming chains to make our way along. We
scampered up sheer cliffs, then back down. (I’m not sure which was scarier, up
or down.) We ran across scree slopes, across washed out trails and dodged rocks
that came screaming from above. It soon became dark, and we thought that we had
to hike over a mountain and still had a few hours to go. Just as the sun set we
came back to the trail head and put our head-lamps on and followed the trail,
stopping every ten steps as we climbed this small mountain. The stars were
unbelievable, and we stopped often to marvel at the sky before the moon showed
its face. Soon we spotted a headlamp in the distance. Our hearts leapt! Namaste,
I shouted. No answer… Soon we came upon a bridge, which lead us to the Tilicho
Lake Base Camp Lodge, which save for a lone trekker for a Slavic country the
place was abandoned. The owner had the left the place open and we cooked
ourselves dinner, warmed ourselves by the father and counted our lucky stars
that we made it alive!

The next day we hiked about 400 meters thru the snow to the lake. Our path took
us across switchbacks and just went up and up. As we crested the mountain we
started hiking through the snow. The higher elevation definitely started to play
games with my head as I realized that I had never been so high up in my life… We
had never experienced a place that was so devoid of sound. It was deathly
silent; you could hear the beating of your heart. I chilled for about an hour,
and then my head hurt too much so I decided to head back. It had taken us over
four hours to make the climb, but I got back in under an hour. We spent that
night in base camp, by then the owner had returned. I tried explaining what had
happened, but he didn’t speak English, so we sat by the fire until Tashi came
back and talked to him.

We left early the next morning and experienced a trail even more difficult to
traverse then the one there! Higher, steeper and rockier cliffs lead us back
into Manang. The “trail” definitely had its scary moments.
Once we made it back we had some vegi-fajitas, Nepali style, and moved into
Tashis other families guesthouse where Matt, Kenny and Jasper would be sick for
the next six days. During that time I hiked up above Manang to the viewpoint, we
watched 7 Years in Tibet, Kundun, The Gods Must Be Crazy as well as Once Upon a
Time in Mexico. We were in no hurry to leave as there was bakeries and all we
had had for the past 2 weeks was chapatti and Tibetan bread, so we definitely
had our fill of apple crumble and Danishes. After trying to leave for a few
days, having one person get sick, then get better, then another person got sick,
we finally made it out of there and headed to Thorung Pedi. It was here in
Manang that Tashi split from the group to head back to Katmandu to be with his

With letters from our hotel manager to his brother in the next village and at
base camp for Thorung La pass, we headed out. It was another long day. We walked
past huge rock formations that looked like dark evil castles from Transylvania
covered in fog. We arrived to a very nice lodge that had electricity in the
middle of nowhere. It was here that we met Joel and Dan, the brothers from South
Carolina. Joel with his guitar, Dan with his metal mouth harp from Vietnam. We
would cross paths all the way to Tatopani. I had injured my ankle, so we took a
day to chill out. The guys as well as Joel and Dan went off to explore the last
bit of Manang while I read and wrote.

We left the next morning for the pass. We hiked from 4441 meters to 5416 meters.
It definitely was very difficult but the trek to the lake had prepared us. We
made it to the pass at 11am. There was a small group there already including
Joel and Dan. The weather appeared to be turning, but as everyone decided to
leave, we stayed and took a variety of pictures as well as had a feast of peanut
butter, chocolate and breakfast burritos. After doing a tiny bit of writing and
getting our fill we headed down to Muktinath.

We decided to follow a friend’s advice and stay in Jarkot instead of Muktinath.
Glad we did because Jharkot was set among rice and cornfields with amazing
sunsets, and most perfect patch of land ever. We sat and listened to the wind
rustle the leaves. Everything was so green! From Jharkot we trekked to Kegbeni.
Kenny stopped along the way for a picture. The trail took us down into a valley.
The winds were very strong and several times we got blasted by sand. We watched
in awe as the wind danced thru the fields of bright green corn and wheat. In the
distance we saw one lone tree standing guard in between a gorge to the entrance
of Upper Mustang, where for $700.00 you got a ten day guided tour of the
wilderness and untouched culture and history. We had lunch, talked politics with
a Belgian couple and headed into Marpha.

We began our hike out of Kegbeni, walking along the riverbed in search of
fossils. A tractor came by and somehow we managed to hitch a ride. We rolled
along to Jomsom as the sun began to set. We stopped for tea and then continued
our tractor journey on the riverbed, thru the river, all the while getting
knocked up and down and side to side. We arrived in Jomsom and decided to push
onto Marpha. We donned our headlamps, bought some apple brandy and trekked to
the place I would celebrate my 27th birthday.

We arrived to a small village with tiny cobblestone streets. Most places had
their lights off. By now we were drunk. I poked my head into the Baba Lodge and
suggested we crash here. Jas came in and noticed that the Carolina boys were
here as well. We settled in, had dinner and crashed. We awoke several times that
night to donkey traffic jams under our window. Around 8:30 am we decided to get
up. I got breakfast and I was sitting there eating when Matt, Kenny and Jasper
walked in with an entire apple crumble! Everyone sang happy birthday and we ate.
Then we busted out with the Malibu and Seabuckthorn juice that we had carried
from Manang. Another group of trekkers that we had met earlier walked by and one
of the girls was celebrating her birthday today too. We shared pie and chilled.
I decided to head out into the fields for some solo time. I relaxed a bit then
the guys showed up. We played in the wheat fields, I walked around naked for a
bit, and we found an awesome tree to climb. I was unable to conquer it and
jasper spent some time trying to guide me up, but it was a twisting mass of
brittle branches and the wind was blowing hard. Kenny and Matt picked up our
lunch and we had a picnic under the tree.

We decided to move on and paid a visit to the Marpha horticulture/distillery,
where we sampled apple cider and bought four bottles. We trekked on, stopping
for an outdoor poop break, and I chased a horse while wearing my sleeping bag.
Along the way we came across a metal box on pulleys that carried rocks from the
top of the mountain, down. We decided to go for a ride and we wheeled each one
of us, one by one, about 50 feet high before the sketch factor stopped us.
We continued our trek into Larjung. We had to go up a bit, and we crossed a mad
rushing river. It was completely dark and it started to rain. We couldn’t really
make out the path, but somehow we managed and we stopped at the only guesthouse
and crashed as a storm dumped rain down on us. Before I went to bed, I did a ton
of writing and I came to the realization that this had been one of the most
fantastic birthdays of my life!

When we woke up we looked at what we had crossed in the dark. A crazy river that
was overflowing its banks and had flooded several homes. We continued to trek
along the river and everywhere you looked was a lush green landscape. We found
an amazing place to chill out. Stone houses, goats eating everything, apple
orchards and an amazing sense of tranquility. We goofed off and continued on. We
stopped for lunch just as it began to rain. We had a spaced out lunch and then
spent the rest of the day admiring our surroundings, taking silly pictures and
really enjoying ourselves. We trekked through Ghasa, passing through a huge army
encampment and just as the rain began to fall again we came to Talbagar.
I had tried haggling for a room at the first place, but I was denied. We trekked
on as the rain came down harder and harder and the sun began to set. We found
one last guesthouse, as we were about to go back to the first, but this place
was totally full. We convinced the guy to let us sleep in the kitchen, but he
had a storage room and he made up two beds in there. I slept on one and Kenny,
Matt and Jasper scrunched into the other. We passed out early with the goal of
waking up early. We awoke around 5am, had our breakfast and hit the trail as a
light rain gently fell.

It was a spectacular day of gazing at trees, looking at hills and watching
waterfalls. I was walking behind everyone else taking my time. I met up with the
guys rested and gazed at an amazing waterfall. Matt and Jasper went ahead while
Kenny and I stayed behind and told each other jokes. We continued on until we
came across some kids, a screaming boy and a crying mother. I looked down at the
boy and his face was covered in blood. Instinctively we asked what happened, but
nobody spoke English. Kenny busted out his first aid kit and we tried to assess
the situation. The boy, who was probably 8, had a huge gash in his head. We
cleaned out the wound and found out from another lady that there was a clinic in
the next village. The accident must have happened 2 minutes before we arrived,
and the boy began to go into shock. Kenny thought his skull was split open and
he felt we didn’t have time to waste. The mom, Kenny and I started to walk to
Tatopani but it was taking to long. We had stabilized the boy, but he had lost a
lot of blood. Kenny gave me his backpack and took the boy in his arms and ran 30
minutes to the clinic. I arrived 15 minutes later and the boy had passed out.
They were cutting his hair and prepping him. This wasn’t the greatest clinic I
realized when they took out the fishing line and hook and sewed up his head, on
a bench, with the entire village looking on. Later Kenny had told me he freaked
out cause he thought the boy had died in his arms. I lost it, and ran off and
started to cry. It was too much. I was dealing with the horse, another girl who
had broken her arm earlier in the trek that they helped and now this. Several
days earlier, I had told Matt I had needed a good cry, and now I got it. As I
was crying a hand brushed my face. I looked down to a baby chicken pecking the
ground, then a little boy smiled at me, and I calmed down. I was emotionally

We found a place to stay, ate lunch and went to the hot springs. I fell in love
with the village. We chilled out, and then Kenny and I returned to the boy’s
house with some chocolates. It was incredible. As we arrived, he came running
down the hill. I saw him the next day and he wasn’t able to sleep that night.
The next day the Maoists came and took over the village. There was a lot of
uncertainty and Kenny, Matt and Jasper, Jen and Sarah, two girls we had met on
the trek, tried to leave for Anapurna base Camp. The Maoists had gathered 6
villages at the school and held a program talking about communism, how America
sucks, and did dances and sang songs. It was strange, but I couldn’t understand
any of it because it was in Nepali. There were teens all over the place
carrying guns in fatigues, but we didn’t feel unsafe. Everyone but me finally
made it out of the village, as I stayed behind to relax and get some solo time.
After the program ended, I convinced the leader, via several other soldiers that
I was with a Canadian paper called Indymedia. He granted me an interview, after
a lot of bullshitting and we spoke, through an interpreter for two hours about
anything and everything related to their cause. I wasn’t able to ask questions
that would rile Deepak (the leader) because it was just me and a bunch of people
with guns. They wanted to ratify the constitution, and bring democracy to Nepal.
They felt that they had learned from the mistakes of other communist countries,
and that most Nepalese supported them. Unfortunately they kill and kidnap
people, and are ruining the economy by having strikes for 20 days out of the
month that effectively shut the entire country down. They might just succeed
because people are fed up with the King and with the five political parties
protesting, something will have to give. It’s a mixed up situation that is
marring a beautiful country with incredible people.

I spent several more days in Tatopani, going to the hot springs and swimming in
the river with the kids and going hiking in the hills. It was a much needed rest
and I really enjoyed myself.

After several days, many new friends and a fresh outlook on life, I headed to
Beni which would lead me into to Pokhara and end the trek. I hiked for about
three hours when it started to rain. The road had begun and there was a jeep
waiting, so I hitched a ride. I fell into a state of shock as my surrounding
went from lush, tropical valleys into the beginning of a city. The jeep dropped
me off at a point where I caught a taxi filled with way to many people into
Beni, where I just made the local bus to Pokhara. As I rode the bus along the
winding dirt road, bouncing up and down, hitting my head on the ceiling, I took
one last glimpse at where I had been for a month and looked ahead to where I was
heading. I arrived in Pokhara, lost and in shock and I was having a difficult
time adjusting.

I was walking around with my backpack still on looking for a place to stay. I
bumped into that group with the girl who shared my birthday as well as another
girl who was born on May 19th. Sarah, the girl who hiked with the guys to the
base camp had to come back early because her shoes gave out and she was also
with this group. As I was trying to figure what I was going to do, Ricard, a
cool guy from Spain that I shared a room with in Tatopani one night approached
me and said he and his wife were staying across the street. Overwhelmed, I
followed him and got a room and dropped my bag down and took a shower. I hopped
back across the street, and joined the party in progress. I tried to eat dinner,
but I couldn’t handle being around a bunch of drunken people, and I just wasn’t
hungry. I decided to head back to my room and dream of the mountains that I had

The next day, Sarah, Zoë and Lisa (another girl that was friends of Sarah) and I
rented a canoe and paddled around Fewa Lake for the day. At points we hopped off
and went for a swim. It was absolutely fantastic, and it was exactly what I
needed to get back into the swing of things. We had a picnic on the boat, and
listened to tunes and just relaxed as the clouds slowly gathered overhead. It
started to pour and the water became choppy. I paddled left then right, but we
weren’t getting anywhere! Slowly but surely we somehow managed to get back to
just as the rain really began to fall. The sounds of the lake at night were amazing!
The next day Sarah and I decided to throw a welcome back party for the guys and
Jen, (Sarah’s trekking buddy), while we were running around in a haze thru the
wilderness. We scouted various locations, talked about all the possibilities and
ideas we had for music and environment. The following day we rented a motorcycle
and tooled around town, did email and send mail. We secured Lailas bar for the
party, and with location in hand we began to brainstorm everything we needed to
do to make the party go off! We arrived back to Lakeside, and as we drove down
the street I saw Kenny and Matt. So much for a surprise party! Sarah and I had
just finished making fliers and were going to post them all over town, but the
sight off me on a motorcycle with a girl on the back was an even bigger surprise
and when I showed the flyer they freaked. They had been searching for me and
still had their backpacks on. I welcomed them to town, and got them to my
guesthouse where they got settled in.

That night, I went to a bar and met a guy who was mixing on a cd mixer. I talked
him into letting me come over and learn how to mix on his cd mixer. That morning
I converted 6 cd’s of mp3’s and headed over to his house, and spent the next two
days teaching myself how to mix. I almost began to cry when I first sat down
because it had been 6 months since I had last heard my music loud and been
behind the decks.

The day of the party Sarah and I got fruit, incense, candles as well as paper
and pens for people to draw on under black lights and various other party stuff
and set everything up.

We got back from town, jumped in the lake for a swim and chilled out. We then
headed over to Lailas and set everything up. I headed back to the guesthouse and
took a shower. When I got back to the bar a whole new environment had been
created and the place was already starting to fill up with people. Artists had
come in and repainted the largest wall. A graffiti artist had done an amazing
piece on another wall. Earlier that day I had placed flyers up all over town and
talked to as many people as possible. A lot of people seemed interested. Twice
the police showed up. The first time they kicked all the Nepali people out. They
slapped them around and ruffed them up. None of us had any idea what all this
bullshit was about, and I went to talk to them. They didn’t speak any English,
and just walked away. I went back behind the decks and we partied till about 3am
when they returned and said all the Nepalis had to leave. I glanced around at my
friends, both Nepali and Tourist and decided that I wouldn’t ask anyone to
leave. We either all partied or we went to sleep. We went to sleep. Well, we
didn’t actually, but the party did end. About fifteen of us stayed and chilled
out till 4:30. We went back and wandered around, had breakfast and passed out
around 7:30. The party, except for the cops, was a complete success, and it had
only cost about $50 to throw! The next day as I was walking around town, I was
stopped several times and thanked by some local people. It was a wonderful
feeling coming into a foreign place, putting together an event and bringing
tourists and locals together.

That morning the Maoists had a strike, which prevented anyone from traveling
between cities. We were stuck for 3 days in this lakeside paradise. We chilled
out around town, watched movies and relaxed. I had made a new friend with a kid
named Laxman who lived above the lake. Earlier, he had helped me get info about
sound systems, and was really enthusiastic about the party. He had invited me to
come over for brunch, so the following day I bought a watermelon and walked to
his place. I had to go thru the army checkpoint and up a crazy hill. I arrived
dripping sweat and met his entire family. He was in the midst of selling some of
the Lychees from a tree, so I relaxed for a bit, then we had Dal Bhat for
breakfast. I spent the day hanging out with him, his sister and two brothers as
well as his dad and grandma, and all the people who came by to hang out with the
family. I took a nap in a Hammock as he set-up a trek with a guy who had studied
at Stanford. Later I milked the cow and helped brainstorm ideas for making the
guesthouse more profitable.

I asked him his age, and he replied 21. I thought about my responsibilities when
I was 21 and tried to understand how he managed. We talked about how scared he
was because his village community center had a gotten a letter from the Maoists
asking for “volunteers,” and he was afraid they would come and take him or
worse, kill him if he refused to go. What struck me the most was that Laxman,
who was educated, sensitive and intelligent was enduring all of this while
trying to provide for his family and do the duties his mother would have done,
but she had died when he was in tenth grade. I tried to imagine being in America
worried that one day soldiers would knock on my door telling me that I had to
join them or they would kill me. (Now, from what I hear from friends, the draft
might be coming back and many are scared that they will have to fight someone
else’s war.) Laxman told me how he felt life was passing him by as he took care
of all these responsibilities while his friends where out having fun. At least
until dark, when they had to be back home or they risked getting beaten by the
cops or encountering the Maoists. Despite all of this, Laxman always smiled, and
was an incredible host. His insight into the political situation here in Nepal
was enlightening and disheartening.

I have met many people on this trip, but we really connected and I was genuinely
interested in his life. Laxman walked me back part way and I left. Both of us
having made a new friend, as well as trying to make sense of it all.
The next day we caught a bus to Katmandu. We left at 7:30am and caught our first
and only glimpse at the mountains from this area. We arrived at 3:30pm after
being stuck on the road in traffic from all of the businesses who were trying
to make up from the three lost days of work. We arrived into Katmandu just as it
started to rain, tired and exhausted. We went back to the same hotel we had
stayed at when we first arrived and chilled out.
Later that night we met up with Tashi and we all went to a crazy Nepali rave
party in a beautiful location. The place was packed with people and everyone was
having a great time. Crazy lights, a fog machine and boys dancing with boys,
girls dancing with girls, just because Nepal is weird like that, and boy’s and
girl’s can’t show affection towards each other. The dj wasn’t the greatest and
he couldn’t mix, and I realized that if I perfected my skills on the cd mixers,
I could probably get a lot of gigs.

We drank some beer, then Kenny, Jasper, Tashi and his friend Sarah and I headed
off to the Yak and Yeti hotel to gamble. Kenny had wanted to go for a while, and
it sounded like a lot of fun. Tashi and Sarah decided that they didn’t want to
plunk down the entry fee and just watched, but eventually left. We played
blackjack for a few hours, got really sloshed then moved on to Roulette. We
played till about 5am, when we left, barley able to walk and see straight. We
ended up talking for a long time, having one of those drunken epiphany
conversations, then did some email and went back to our hotel around 8. I guess
one of the morals from that evening was that, even thought it looks like
Monopoly money, it still counts!
Today, Jasper, Kenny and I had a hangover, woke up around 1 and went over to
Tashis house for lunch and to watch the videos from our trek. Later that day,
Kenny diagnosed himself as having Giardia for the umpteenth time and took some

We are now in the process of fixing over over-stayed visa faux-paus and trying
to figure out how we are going to go to India, Egypt and Morocco and still be in
Europe for the summer. We are hoping to just get a transit visa through India
and go straight into Europe and get jobs and make some money. WE dream of
someday making it to Egypt and Morocco and spending some time in India, but its
way to hot now. We might just hang out in Kashmir for a week.
After having traveled for 6 months, I can’t see myself doing anything else. I
have learned so much about myself and the world that each new experience teaches
me far more than any college course. Maybe there is a possibility of dj’ing my
way across the world? So much to see, so many more people to meet. We hope that
everyone is well and we love and miss everyone back home…

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