Well today is my last day in Nepal. The entire duration of my trip was about a week shy of a month. This was my second time visiting this captivating country. I will be returning home with more travel wisdom, stories and memories than I could have imagined.
I have looked forward to this trip since the last time I visited. It’s been on my mind every day. There is something unexplainably special about Nepal. There is something in the people and in the air. They say Nepal stands for: Never Ending Peace and Love. What a slogan to have. They aren’t coining tourism phrases or slapping fancy, catchy sayings on everything. They are just saying it like it is. The way I see Nepal. The way everyone I know whom has visited sees it.
Upon visiting, you will see the resilience, grace and love these people have. From the adamant shop keeper to the small boy carrying milk home for tea. The Nepali people are not to be forgotten or overlooked. As I walk along the bustling streets of Kathmandu I am reminded of a few things: About how privileged my life has been. How lucky I am to live in Canada, where the water comes out clear and clean in my shower. Where I don’t have to worry about eating tomorrow or if my house is going to crumble again. Yes, we all have struggles as do the countries we reside in. But we are utterly blessed in North America. When I watch small women carrying large baskets of oranges on their heads or the teenage men driving large trucks of goods along dusty, windy highway roads- I am reminded of their strength.
I have learned quite a few amazing things on this trip. It’s been the longest I’ve been away from Canada and the most exciting time I’ve had doing it.
I’ve discovered that I enjoy and appreciate hot showers more than I thought. After having a cold shower somewhere above 3,000m while standing shivering on the pavement floor – I’ve realized I actually really enjoy a shower haha. But with that, I am reminded of how valuable and sacred water is in this world. How we should have a greater wish to preserve our waters, to reduce our consumption. To see water as a gift from nature. As I watch the lodge staff run to the roof to turn the hot water on at my hotel, I am reminded of the ease we have back home. And I’ll never take a shower for granted again.
I’ve gotten a tattoo and immediately passed out after from heat stroke. I now have a token of Nepal on my wrist to take with me each day and to remind me to drink more water haha.
I’ve been reminded of why I love being in the mountains so much. Of how seeing them under a soft glow of morning sun can tug at my heart strings. How I am myself when I am in their presence. I am reminded of how large and vast our world is. Of how tall mountains are but yet still in reach. The mountains are mighty and towering – they do things to our souls that no person can explain. I have now stood staring out at the Annapurna range, sore legs and a warmth in my heart. I have shed tears that I couldn’t control as I watched pink rays touch the white peaks before me.
I’ve hiked more stairs in one day then in my whole life. I’ve said a soft thanks below my breath for the men and women who built those stone steps so many years ago.
I’ve trekked through rustic villages and seen a whole different side of Nepal. The beautiful, rural parts. I’ve played with happy, smiling children along the way.
I’ve had a true Nepali guide experience. And finished the trek as good friends (it’s even Facebook official). I’ve heard the struggle of how to get that career – the work and time that goes into it. From being a porter carrying insane amounts of weight to knowing the trails like the back of your hand. Seeing the love and connection each one has to their work and the mountains is awe-inspiring.
I now know how to make Nepali Dal Bhat, I know how much love goes into that dish. I know that it’s a family affair and that you need to eat slow. I’ve also puked it up for two days and somehow still want to eat it now. I have made connections with people here and friends that I will keep in touch with each time I return.
I’ve accepted the fact that I am a white tourist and that some people will not want to be my friend and that’s cool. That I’ll rub people the wrong way and maybe even get a flaming stick thrown at me by a child. That’s cool.
I’ve watched the coolest celebration of my life – Maha Shivaratri (The God Shivas birthday party). I’ve seen the most bonfires ever in one place. People slapping sugar cane and it exploding into the night sky. I’ve seen pure joy as children prance around singing and licking the sugar.
I’ve seen the deep impacts of the 2015 earthquake. Not only in the rubble along the road or in the restoration efforts – but in the people. I’ve listened to a mother tell me of the horror she felt. Of the fear her babies still have each day. I’ve walked through villages of complete loss – I’ve seen the men and women out working til sundown to rebuild their community. I felt the heartache and will continue to feel it. Watching a country pick itself back up and begin again is so humbling and beautiful.
I’ve learned things about traveling with family and friends. About how to compromise and still see all the things you desire. I purchased beautiful Thangka paintings from young artists, visited the market in a Tibetan refugee settlement and softly patted an elephants trunk.
I’ve confirmed the fact that I am not a city person – but I have somehow become capable of crossing busy streets in Nepal. I’ve avoided several collisions with motorcycles carrying entire families. I’ve dodged running cattle, dogs and horses. And I’ve made it through yet another crazy 7 hour taxi ride through the mountains.
I’ve been the dirtiest I’ve ever been, felt the most soreness I’ve ever had in my legs and had the fullest heart along the way.
As I sit and try to retell the many memories I’ve stored in my mind, I find I am at loss to keep up. But I am okay with that. I am okay to let some of my memories be kept for myself – to grow from them and to learn from them. As I change with each new day, I take these moments and stories along. I try to pick the best parts of them to take with me – the times I struggled and overcame. The pure joy I experienced and the feeling of sadness I will feel as I step on that plane for home.
I am ready to be back in my bed. But I know as soon as I get home I’ll be planning my next adventure. I’ll be even more inspired to smile bigger, push harder, enjoy the quiet moments and find peace in chaos.
Thank you Nepal and it’s not goodbye – it’s see ya later.