Some Words from my wife who was my companion in this trek:
This is my last sunset of my trekking trip to Nepal and I’m sitting here wearing a touristy ‘mandala‘ t-shirt and dirty Giordano pants, with a bad heat rash and allergy covering my face and neck, my hair looking like a bird’s nest and I’m probably covered in soot and grime gathered from a day shopping and roaming around in the tempting tourist market of Pokhara. I haven’t been this dirty since we landed here and took a painful ride from the polluted city of Kathmandu to Pokhara. Malek looks like a total firangi in harem pants, loose touristy shirt and a full beard looking the dirtiest version of himself ever since I’ve known him!
The past 8 days have been an out of body experience for me. I have never done anything like this before.
We’ve trekked for 5 days in the Annapurna region, making night stops in the most unique places I have ever visited. We camped one night at Ghorepani in a hotel that didn’t have water nor tissues in the loo. The rooms were made out of ply and Malek’s farts made the neighbors laugh and we giggled like crazy all night long!
I have been a couch potato all my life (never lasted more than 25 mins while jogging) and here we were trekking everyday for hours on end – our second day being the toughest at 8 hours and 45 minutes of treacherous trails and uphill walks. I was in pain for 3 days when I finally broke down while descending next to a waterfall in the jungle. I slipped on the wet stones and broke down. What was I doing?! This is madness. We were so far from home. We didn’t see a car nor a cycle for 5 days! When I couldn’t go any longer, a bewildered Malek asked me ‘where will you go from here!?’
He was right. There was no where to go but forward. There was no chance of a rescue unless I wanted to be airlifted off the Himalayas. Back home whenever I couldn’t carry on any longer, there was always a cab to take me home. I was miles away from the comfort of my home and my way of life. It felt like another lifetime where there was always a cafe I could rest my aching back and sore feet in while sipping a delicious cuppa but here I couldn’t stop even if I wanted to for the fear of leeches crawling up my legs and sucking my blood.
I was living every backpacker’s dream.
Out of energy and a leg that throbbed in pain with every excruciating step I took, when I fell, that was it! I knew I couldn’t go on. My mind and every cell in my body gave up. That was when I discovered God. I kid you not. I don’t know what it was but it can only be a miracle. As Malek said, I shot thru the forest. Literally. Call it divine energy or adrenaline rush, whatever it was, strong determination flowed thru my blood and I forgot about my legs and made it out of the jungle. We walked for hours. My mind registered that this wasn’t possible, yet here I was, making my way out of the woods.
I suppose, you only know how strong you are until being strong is the only option you got.
I was rewarded too. Out of the woods, we stopped at the scenic village of Ghandruk where I was so happy, I thought the day’s events had driven me nuts. How could I be so happy when in the morning I could barely walk? Perhaps it was the sense of achievement.
The last few minutes of the trek were the longest. Our ride to our comfortable guesthouse awaited us. Like warriors, I felt, this was our homecoming.
I will never look at these mountains the same way again.
My life has been changed, I have been transformed.
We trekked thru scenic valleys where we abused our cameras to the max; we went thru a jungle watching every step we took and focused only on survival; we came across beautiful waterfalls which Malek almost fell in as he tried to shake the leeches that crawled up his boots; we braved thru rain; we walked on a trail full of maggots; we had a jungle safari where my eyes were peeled open, glued to the road as a slip would mean hundreds of feet downhill… I got bitten by an army of red ants and the wounds still sting. And not to mention the endless chunks of stinky animal dung (from the caravans and stray cattle)!
We befriended amazing people; shared a candlelit dinner in the woods (insects on the house;) we slept in the weirdest places; saw many tharkis (pervs); ate a lot; drank a lot of chai and hot chocolate; fell in and out of love and back in again; fought and quarreled, kissed and made up. Where strength failed me, he was there with his strong shoulders and compassion. When I couldn’t go on, his knowledge of first-aid and kind strangers gave me the strength to get back on track. When everything else failed, God intervened.
If a trek is meant to change your life, consider mine changed.
When we were planning this trip, we didn’t Google images of the areas we would visit, we just prepared ourselves based on the previous Nepal experience we had where we just chilled and relaxed. Yes, we knew we would have hardships on the way and that we were definitely in for an adventure but it’s surprising how unprepared we were. We didn’t have the right gear, the right clothes and we forgot our sleeping bags. Yet, we managed by buying stuff on the go or just learning to live without it. I realised how we live in excess back home where we have plenty of everything and how very little we actually need as compared to how much we want.
I’d be speaking for myself and Malek when I say, no matter what we faced and overcame, this trek was one of the best experiences of our lives. Will we do it again in spite of everything? Oh yes! Nothing can beat the sense of achievement and wakefulness that I felt in the end. That in itself, is motivating enough.
For now though, I’m ready to go home. Back to my life, back to the excess, back to the usual comfort, luxuries and conveniences with gratefulness in my heart for being blessed in ways that many I met on my trek can only dare to dream of…
It’s time to end the day with a cup of masala chai with my Man who in his silent ways, always manages to fill my heart with happiness.