“Nepal” – or “Thin Air”

 “Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.”   – Jack Kerouac




”One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller




After the Afghanistan post in April, I dug out more images. These are snapshots taken as a teenager, with my dad’s camera,  no serious photographic ambitions – been there / done that stuff. Here is a selection from Nepal. Starting hitch-hiking on the Autobahn in Germany, we made it all the way to Katmandu and beyond into the high mountains.
We were 19/20 years old, fearless, and were about to hike for a month or so in flip-flops through the Himalayas – just happened … no plans whatsoever.  To be exact, the Annapurna range, to the west of Everest, with peaks like Dhaulagiri and Annapurna – over 8000 meters.
After visiting a photographer with a pinhole camera,  we got our tracking permits, including a map, a list of useful Nepali words, and off we went. On 3 feet wide trails, on 65 degree slopes, a kilometer up on one side, a kilometer down on the other (elevation – not trail), above a thunder-storm, through bright red rhododendron forests and amongst caravans of Tibetan traders. Often you have to climb up the slope to give way to a herd of water buffaloes. After a day’s hike you eat your daal and sleep at any farmers clay hut, basically for free. The farming terraces covering the slopes are getting rarer and it starts getting tough and turns more into mountaineering. We met people coming from further up (the Chinese border), and they were at the edge of collapse.
We made it to Tatopani (meaning HotWater – the village had hot springs) where we stayed for a few days and we actually ate canned peaches, carried up on someone’s back for weeks! High luxury! The hospitality of the Nepalis is extraordinary, as well as their politeness. You cannot ask ‘Is this the trail to…?’ – they will always answer ‘Yes’! – nuts. Tea is mixed with butter and salt!
All this was long before the organized tourist treks available now from ‘yuppie-adventure-tourism’ outfitters or for disturbed nirvana-seekers, where camps are built and food is cooked a day ahead and carriers schlepping your packs.
We were just ‘walking around’, careless, in pretty thin air and elevations where the Rockies or Alps only offer ice and snow, with villagers, Tibetans and water buffaloes – in flip-flops …  Namaste!

Your comments and critiques are appreciated

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