So many stories to tell, so many life changing, happy and sad moments have passed. So many smiles have been showed and so many kind-hearted and truly amazing people have entered and left my life. It made it impossible to start writing. As a true writer (so I have been told), I was truly suffering from a writer’s block..
However, that changed today. After having just hiked for an hour and a half, I was just sitting on a mountain hill, looking at the view, and the words just seemed to come to me again.
Yesterday and today were truly blissful days, two days of experiencing the true Nepali life. After recuperating from being sick and still feeling a bit cold, I felt no urge to get my ass into the cold mountains to experience some more coldness. And thus I did not. However, after being in samsaric Pokhara for more than a week I felt lost, disconnected to the nature and to myself. Thus, I made a decision yesterday. I am going to rent a bike and cycle around. As a true Dutchie this always makes me very happy and what did I have to lose? Even if I would just get around that corner, around that corner that has been staring at me, it would be a great achievement of the day. As if I could find some peace there. However, so far I managed never to pass it. So this day I will, with my bike. And my roomie. My roomie Jodie decided this was one of my better ideas (I have had a few) and decided to join.
About my roomie. Jodie is an amazing person and maybe a little bit too much like me. Well you can skip the little bit. She is very much like me. Needing the peace and quiet, being talkative, busy and…. indecisive.. You can imagine, this is a match made in heaven! 😉 And no one would be surprised if I tell you it took us about 4 bike shops and 1,5 hour to get a bike that we thought was decent enough to get us over some hills without causing our bodies to be in pain.
But then the moment was there, we passed the corner. And there it was, beautiful Nepal. The views, the people, the cycling. It did not disappoint us at all. It was awakening. It made me realize once more how important being in the nature is to me (as long as it is warm enough though).
Along the way we pass a beautiful scenic bridge where we stop to take some touristic pictures. Of course. As we are on the bridge three little boys come walking towards us and as always they too ask us for chocolate. Unfortunately, we do not have some with us. However, Jodie did find some sweets in her bag, sweets that came all the way from England. Very special sweets! She gives it to the boys and they could not have been more delighted.
Only a couple of minutes later we enter a village where we would like to find some lunch. Unfortunately for us they know how to overprice their food for tourists and thus we end up eating our bananas instead. While doing so a little boy comes up to show us how he plays with a spinning top. The boy looks hungry, his close are torn and so are we. How can we help him? What can we give him? Luckily, Jodie had an extra clementine with her which he happily accepted, making me realize his situation is maybe worse than I thought.
Ending our beautiful day by getting the best peanut butter in town, it was a day to live by and rejoice in… Happiness is just in the little things, for which it actually does not matter where in the world you are to experience them. Being in the moment and feeling that it is enough. I do not have to hike, I do not have to paraglide, I do not have to do all the tourist things I can post about on facebook. I can just enjoy these lovely people, these little moments. 😊
Then the next day came. And instead of paragliding, which was initially my plan, I realized I want to go for a little hike. And so I did. I opened maps.me and searched for a nice viewpoint. Methlang it is. Not knowing what I was getting myself into I had a good smoothie bowl breakfast (I was craving some good fruits) and I prepared for the hike (i.e. I got some water and a banana). Leaving the hotel, I almost immediately get lost and after a few times of walking back and forth I finally find the way. At least that is what I thought until I got to a little house in the middle of nowhere, where the so called path seems to stop. At the same time, a lovely young girl (19 years old) starts calling me ‘Namasté, how are you? Come here, come up here’. And so I did. She is feeding her 5 month old son and tells me this is not the way to the viewpoint. I should go the other way, whatever that may be. However, first I have to eat. It does not matter that I already ate. Since I am climbing up, I have to eat (her reasoning, not mine). Not wanting to be rude and hoping the food won’t get me sick again, I accept her offer. I get a lot of rice, some dal, a very spicy but very tasty tomato sauce and some spinach. A real Nepali meal. And to be honest, the girl can cook.
All of this is new to me, the hospitality, the kindness, taking the time for strangers. I feel a bit uncomfortable and feel like I should do something in return but I do not have anything, which reminds me once again how important it is to take some sweets up once you go hiking. It is a true treat for them.
Then I continue my journey. In the direction they pointed me to. Clearly I have gone off a path and now I am just trying to find my way through their garden. Having some difficulties finding a path and sometimes literally rock climbing, I find a new sort of path. I think. Soon I lose it again and I end up in someone’s rice fields… Luckily for me however, the owners are on their fields and show me the way to the road, which by now is only 50 meters away…
And then it is an easy road up. Finally. On the way more food and tea is offered but this time I kindly decline. Although… I hope it was kindly. I feel bad every time I do it.
Then, I finally reach the viewpoint. A bit disappointed by the view I sit down and do nothing. Just be.. Once again I realize happiness in life is about enjoying these moments intensely. Loving the people and the surroundings you are in, not having to change them (even if it is not as perfect as you thought it would be).
On my way back it keeps striking me that I keep seeing women doing heavy construction work on flipflops. I saw it in Kathmandu, at the monastery and now again in Methlang village. And then suddenly a conversation I had in Kathmandu comes back to mind. Women are worth less than men, so it is cheaper to pay them and it is less bad if they get injured… Thinking about this, I realize how fortunate I am to be born in the place I have been born and what a long way Nepal still has ahead of it..
Since I promised the young girl, who offered me lunch, that I would come back later that afternoon, I now try to find my way back through the rice paddies and the jungle that is called their backyard. This time I only get lost once. (For the people that know me and my sense of direction, it is actually unique I got lost at all. Especially since I walked there already. So imagine yourself being there and finding your way back;).) Once I get to their lovely house with the amazing view again they laugh at me, glad to see me again. The little boy is sleeping and the girl tells me to wait. She and her sister will walk back down with me!
So I wait. Although her English is not great and the sister does not seem to understand or speak English at all (except for her phone saying ‘hey beautiful, you have a text message’ every time she got a text), it is nice to have some company and walk back with them. Walking down I come to know that they are going down to get food for the upcoming week. It is actually stunning how they do it. Whereas I was glad I was wearing my good hiking boots, the girl managed to do it on flipflops while carrying her baby at her front. Clearly it is quite heavy for the small and skinny girl, but she does not complain at all. Luckily they do the last part by bus and I come to know that the father will join them by car to carry the food. How they are going to get it up to their house will remain a mystery to me though. I hope she is not going to carry the baby and the rice…
Once I get back down in Pokhara I decide to go and meet my other Nepali friends. The ones I made while being in the hospital over New Year’s Eve. So I continue my hiking journey to the hospital, where I find out that my favorite receptionist just left. Fortunately, the other staff was as thrilled to see me and kept questioning me about my journey and my future plans. It feels great just to have made all of these connections over the last days.
I feel so blessed to have had two of these amazing days with the amazing Nepali people who keep making me happy just by their awakening smiles. Two days in which I finally felt like I do not have to do all the cool tourist stuff, but it is as rewarding to just get out there and interact with the ‘real’ Nepal.
Despite all of that I will leave this beautiful Nepal in less than a week. With a little bit of pain in my heart to be honest, but knowing I will come back one day when I feel ready to volunteer and hike. Once I feel that I can truly give back to Nepal what it has given me. For now, I am heading to Thailand to see my brother and to finally give myself some time and space to process the last few months and to relax (in a warmer environment).
I know many of you are curious about all that has happened. The only thing I can say now is that I am still processing. So be patient with me. It will come. Or not. In that case, other stories will probably arise. Like someone of my discussion group used to say daily to me… ‘Slowly slowly, you will get there!’ or in this case ‘Slowly slowly, it will get there!’