We didn’t get much sleep, we were in a thatched bungalow with a tin roof and the rain was horrendous. It was like being in a barrel going over Niagara falls over and over again. The noise was awful, a bit of thunder was thrown in for good measure and it was a pretty restless night.
That said, bright and early at about 6am I was dragging the kids out of bed, and heading South. The clouds had opened up and though it was still about 60% overcast at least it wasn’t still raining. Knowing we needed to bail the village before the shopkeeper saw the wreck in his store we started out quick, grabbing just a packet of crisps for breakfast.
With no map and just an idea of where we needed to be we set out looking for Nala. We was directed left at the bottom of Nargarkot along a paved road. The road took us through an army base, actually a few army bases. We stopped every now and again chatting to the guys checking ID at the various check points. We were high in the clouds and were walking steeply uphill.
In Nepal, things aren’t measured in distance, they are measured in time. Ask someone how far and you will be given an answer in time according to your mode of transport. In this instance we were on foot and when I asked how far to the lookout tower I was hoping for “5 minutes” instead, and quite obviously I was told “1 hour” That trek from Nargarkot to the lookout tower was uphill the entire way, and not British uphill – No, Nepalese uphill. Im talking about a gradient so uphill it’s near vertical. I would rather do the British three peaks twice than walk that bad boy of a hill again. Abi bless her was in agony, her puny legs trying their hardest to move her forward and upward. Her midget lungs working twice as hard due to the altitude. By the time we reached the lookout tower we were drenched in sweat, had walked for about an hour and climbed to a height of about two and a half thousand metres, only a 500m climb. But it was an absolute killer, even superman would have stopped for a smoke break and a pancake. We had done it on a packet of crisps and a hope that around every corner was the summit.
Once at the lookout tower there are two tracks, the road which veers to the right and the mud track to the left. It’s the mud track, we ignored the guy trying to charge me a hundred rupees to go swim in a fresh spring and continued down the track. Still in the clouds we’d not really seen a great deal so far. Abi asked how far we was from England and I worked it out that if we stood still and called someone in the UK and they set off there and then, every flight was within an hour of the previous and every bus connecting within an hour – We were about 36 hours away from home.
We trekked downhill and was completely alone, after about half an hour we came out of the clouds and the air seemed much thicker. Every breath taken was one that seemed to be savoured.
There are a few signs I look out for when travelling such as temperature and pulse, additionally I consider breaths per minute. The average adult does about 12 – 30 where the average kids does up to about 40 per minute. I had checked breathing at the lookout tower and we had all been high. Yet when Abi decided she had found the tree she wanted to grace with a turd I checked again, we were all back within the low average.
Having spent the last day seeing grimness and clouds when I looked out from the ridge and saw sprawling rice fields speckled with life I got goose pimples. It was as beautiful as I’d hoped, it was rural and untouched by tourism. It was green, lush and downright gorgeous. It was the light we had been seeking and the solstice we had craved.
It wasn’t long before we were amongst the crop fields and basic homes had started to appear. As we got nearer to the village which had about 5 or six makeshift houses made from twigs and mud we were approached by an elderly man. He put his palms together in front of his chest, bowed his head and said softly “Namaste” The word Namaste means hello, but when coupled with palms together at the chest it means welcome. He didn’t speak a word of English but gestured we follow him. I said “Nala” and he waved his hand as though we was going the right direction. He led us down a mud path through a field of Mustard which to be fair looks like a corn field. Once the field opened up a dog joined us and in front of us was a school. It was built from mud and sticks and the old man called into the building. About 15 children all came running out so excited. Shaking hands with the kids and asking them to write messages in their books. One of the teachers spoke broken English and he said that these kids had never seen white children before. They were absolutely amazed. It seems Charlie and Abi are the first Western Children to ever visit the area. After a short while we left being waved off by the whole village of about 50 people. As we walked the dog had stayed with us, a brown fluffy thing Abi named him Clumsy. The trek continued through fields and over rivers and suddenly I smelled something suspicious. Marijuana, and sure enough as we crossed the rice field we entered a field full of ganja plants. Suspecting someone might not be happy, the three of us and our new companion moved quickly.
We passed through many villages on our trek to Nala, and every time kids would fly out of their homes and greet us. People tried to speak with us and we were even offered food. Word’s cannot really describe how it was, it was one of those things you really had to experience, but as we arrived into Nala some five hours after setting off we all agreed the morning had been amazing. Like nothing we had ever experienced before.
As we ate local food cooked up on a fire it started to rain and the wind picked up. It meant one thing – Monsoon was coming. With that we hopped on a bus and set off to our next destination. As the bus pulled away I saw Abi had tears in her eyes and asked her what was wrong “Clumsy is sat watching, he wants to come with us” I looked and sure enough the dog was sat watching the bus pull away into the distance with Hindi music blaring, goats screaming in the boot and about fifty people all squeezed on to a bus made for 18. It had been an exceptional morning and within a few minutes both kids were fast asleep. Clearly it had been exhausting.
The headache had gone, the air tasted great, every breath was a good one and finally, finally we had discovered Nepal.