Day 14 Kagbeni No Movement
We pulled out Greg’s Nepalese phrase book to order breakfast, ‘Alu Phul’ for potato egg (omelete) and the results were unsurprisingly delicious. After scanning the phrase book a bit longer, bit of practice pronunciation and a few awkward attempts I was able to tell the woman “your house cat is big and likes to eat.” Which makes sense if you could experience the constant meowing of the behemoth feline when any food is being prepared or eaten. After tea Greg and Mark walked the 30 minutes to Tiri, which upon return they said was so-so but offered nice views of the Mustang Gompa and a peaceful atmosphere. Rachel and I opted for a short nap and reading then laundry in the stream just outside of our hotel. We became a spectacle for the locals and were even filmed by a Nepalese tourist who was curious about our uncharacteristic activities for foreigners. After a few days of walking and no real responsibility we were both craving some form of chore. The process of manually washing clothes in a stream was very fulfilling. Buddhism is very much about service and freedom through work and I have begun to feel the comfort that a routine of chores and simple living brings. Sweeping the floors, collecting water, cooking food, doing the dishes, tending the livestock, or the myriad of duties we see performed daily may not bring enlightenment alone but a lack of idleness in daily living seems a beneficial method to contentment. Rachel and I then took a stroll around this very charming and alive city to photograph and soak in it’s high narrow stone corridors and get in step with the slowness of it’s ancient energy. Hotels are being built and it is easy to understand why people want to visit but I feel lucky to have arrived before the tour bus travelers have made their way in. A true sense of “awayness” is rare upon this trail and as we sit watching the cows pass near and the mini-tour buses pass at even intervals on the far road, I know that the feeling grows more distant daily.
Tonight I will order Dal Baht and allow our Tibetan/ Nepalese host to cook in confidence as this is a dish she has surely been making long before I was born. The woman, who again speaks no English and is unsure of the spagetti dishes we ordered yesterday, has been doing her best and doing well. Making us comfortable and at home with every gesture of hospitality. When confusions arise with food she simply calls her son who speaks perfect English and we explain our orders to him. It’s a system we all find endearing and has forced us to learn a bit of Nepalese. Tonight is our last meal and she has been so gracious, we would like to give her the easiest orders possible. We are also excited to taste her version of Dal Baht which varies at each new destination. Most chefs have a secret to their best dishes and we presume this woman has a few of her own.
Day 15 Kagbeni to Marpha 2670 m / 8759 ft
Of course our breakfast was phenomenal. Rachel and I split an onion and potato omelete and vegetable Thukpa soup. Then the “Snow Lion’s” true kindness shown through when it came to pay the bill. She simply handed us a menu and let us name our own price for the 2 days of our stay. It was easy to over estimate the stay’s value and we each parted ways feeling happy. The next stop was the large city of Jomsom and all the literature suggests that the trail there is treacherous from wind after 10/11 am. We got an early start on the rocky, flat, and barren riverbed then right on time at 1015 the winds started to pickup. With face masks to protect from the dust we pushed on. Luckily we were close to Jomsom for a long lunch of Mo-mos and friend potatoes. We set off again on the rerouted trail east of the Kali Gandaki river. This route began enjoyably and was through a few small villages but after 2 hours of up and down hiking we could still see Jomsom in the not-so-distance. Aggravation led us back down across the river and along the road to cut the remaining time with increasing head winds in half. With wind burnt faces we finally arrived in Marpha and at the hotel ordered a round of the famous Marpha Apple Brandy. Not the most delicious spirit but our faces were then red from wind And moonshine making it easy to mow into our big plates of homemade lasagna. Marpha is a town with character and the prices have drastically decreased but sadly our party of 4 will begin to part way. After breakfast in the morning Mark with catch a bust to Pokhara and the 3 of us remaining with walk to Beni.