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We Can Only Go Forward

September 24, 2011

Awaiting my flight from KTM to Nepalgunj where I’ll spend the night waiting for my next flight from Nepalgunj to Juphal. Nepalgunj is the hottest place in all of Nepal (and in my mind the worst place on Earth) where the temperatures are regularly above 40 Celsius.

After arriving I was carrying my bags as well as some cargo that hadn’t been brought to Dolpo earlier. A 30kg bag of books for the festival and some banners. After meeting Mingmar and Dorje at the airport, I was led to my hotel for the evening. Already my clothing was soaked through with sweat, from head to toe. I finally took off all my clothes in my room to lay in front of the fan. If ever there was a time I wanted air conditioning it was now. My plan is to have a beer or two, hoping to forget about the experience entirely.

Tomorrow we will wake up at 4:30 to be at the Nepalgunj airport at 5am. It will be Mingmar, Dorje and I on the way up, so it looks this time.

Our hope is to first get on the plane (Mingmar has been waiting in Nepalgunj for 3 days already and keeps getting bumped off the flight since so many people are making the way to Tarap for the festival) and once we land in Juphal, we’ll start our caravan to Tarap, staying the night in tents first in Lingdo.

I’m eating a nice plate of Daal Bhat at my hotel under the fan and already working on my second 650ml Tuborg and the heat bothers me less now.

With this heat, I decline any meat with my meal as I know how hot it is and how often the power is out meaning refrigeration is intermitant and minimal. I’m not interested in inviting Montezuma’s revenge to Nepalgunj tonight.

It’s hard to imagine that tomorrow once I fly to Juphal I will need to put on a jacket and warm clothes.

The plane will land (hopefully) on a dirt airstrip nestled in between the mountains at about 2000 meters. It’s a 4 day hard trek to Tarap from here, ascending 2000 meters in that time. Switchback after switchback, in and out, up and down and back up again we will make our way.

Tarap valley is at about 4000 meters, one of the highest places in the world where people live. The peaks around the valley are regularly between 5-6,800 meters. The passes to the north of Tarap are 5,400 meters and the peaks are some of the highest in the world. One can see the mighty Daulaghiri as well as Annapurna 1 from here. To give some reference to this, Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in Europe is a 4800 meters and the tallest Mountain in north America is Mt. McKinley at roughly 6000 meters.
Dhaulagiri, just south of Dolpo is at 8167 meters (26,795 feet) and of course, to the east the mighty Everest, Chomolungma cuts the sky at a cruising altitude of nearly 8848 meters (29,029 feet).

I can hardly wait to get there now.

I spoke with Vani on the phone this evening from my cell phone. I heard that the cell service will not be in Dolpo’s district headquarters, Dunai. I will hopefully be able to call my sweetie and my mom one last time before then.

While I was flying from KTM to Nepalgunj I really had the thought, “What the hell am I doing here?” Then I thought of my teachers, as if asking them personally and immediately felt some ease again.

I am heading straight into adversity, beauty and danger and joy, without knowing the result just as the plane I am in is flying blind and straight into the clouds ahead, slicing through with confidence.

I think, we can only go forward, backwards is no longer an option.

Himalaya Project

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