I’ve always dreamed of seeing the Himalayas. On any given day my ‘recent Google search’ list includes Alpine Ascents International, Conrad Anker, the Annapurna range, and Everest. Ok, and Urban Dictionary if I’m being honest (now I know what a pootie snooper is). You’re welcome.
When you think of the great mountain ranges of the world, none boast the magnitude and mystique of the Himalayas. The Andes, Rockies, and Transantarctic are all magnificent in their own right, but there can only be one true top of the world.
As you can imagine, approaching Kathmandu by plane from India was a visual feast. The dry lowland abruptly surges into a tide of jagged, aggressive, blazing white crests. Most passengers appeared to be local to either Nepal or India, and it was surprising to me that the mountains swept their hypnotizing spell upon them too. Every window had a curious nose pressed against it, and the plane was silent. The Himalayas command complete attention.
I came to Nepal for the mountains, but as it turns out the country delivered so much more beyond incredible peaks and ridges. When I stepped foot in Kathmandu, I instantly fell head-over-heels, unabashedly in love with Nepal. Despite having one hell of a year (more on that later), the Nepalese were gracious hosts and always seem to have something to smile about. I was charmed by their flamboyant sense of humor and respected their spiritual connection to the land.
And, of course, Nepal also gave me a wonderful gift after nearly three months apart – Joey! For my thirtieth, he surprised me with a trip to Tibet (all time dream destination) departing from Nepal. We planned to spend a few days before our departure exploring the Kathmandu Valley and preparing our Chinese visas. It was a happy and emotional reunion, however it may be fair to say that Joey was looking forward to it even more than I was.
The Myth of Male Independence
A little ‘GTK my relationship 101’ crash course. Joey and I met a few years ago as extremely independent individuals who had both lived and traveled extensively abroad. Independence quickly became a cornerstone of our relationship and we promised each other that maintaining a healthy level of autonomy as we became more committed was mutually important.
Now you know all you need to know about our relationship to understand the severity of what I’m about to share with you.
Although Joey was supportive of my travels, I knew he would be lonely when I took off, so I left a pile of wrapped gifts for him to open when he felt blue.
One of the gifts I left for Joey was earmarked for Halloween and contained one adult-sized taco costume. It came in handy for his festivities, and was a hit by all accounts. Joey, being that strange, taco loving genius of a man, added two boxes of Taco Bell burritos to the costume to hand out to drunk strangers at the bar. He’s like the Mexican Mother Teresa.
Fast-forward six weeks. We’re chatting on the phone and I hear a loud Crash! Kaboom! on the other end followed by some colorful language. Joey hops back on the line and our conversation goes something like this:
Me: What the shit was that?
Joey: I just killed a HUGE cockroach.
Me: That’s disgusting. Where was it?
Joey: Under the taco costume.
Me: Where was the taco costume?
Joey: In the corner of the bedroom.
Me: Didn’t you wear that six weeks ago?
Me: And it’s on the floor in the bedroom?
Me: Sheltering cockroaches?
And folks, that’s the moment I knew things had changed. It was a reminder that as much as our intention of independence within our relationship was pure, mutual dependency had slowly crept into our love in the form of a taco-costume loving cockroach.
It was time to think about repatriating to Austin.
And investing in some Raid.
Mobile or Bust
Over a decade ago during my West African adventures I spent considerable effort hauling ass to and from internet cafes. I would pray to the internet gods that logging into hotmail wouldn’t crash the boxy, 90s-tastic computer, constantly longed for more than 50 percent of the keys to be attached to the board, and felt badly that my poor Mother would only get a payphone collect call every few weeks.
On the bright side I don’t recall any brazen little shits choking the chicken at internet cafes back then because internet porn was still in its infancy UNLIKE TODAY (see: Zanzibar post.)
Regardless, I’m here to tell you that times have changed! I guess no-one invested in pre-Y2K technology infrastructure because Y2K! However, folks have certainly made up for lost time since my Ghana days.
Everyone has a fucking cell phone. Everyone. It’s incredible. The landline era was completely skipped across much of Africa and Asia, and people went straight from delivering messages via running marathons to Angry Birds overnight.
I’ll share one of the more shocking moments when I realized just how connected the world is:
YOU ARE GETTING READY TO TORCH YOUR MOM’S BODY! CAN’T MAKING SATURDAY BIMBO-CHASING PLANS WITH YOUR BRAHS WAIT?
As an aside, I loved not having a smart phone during my travels and had anxiety about re-activating it upon my return. There is something to be said for limiting distraction, spending your time in more purposeful, valuable ways, and truly being present*.
*Ugh, after re-reading the last paragraph I think the little Goa jaunt and three-week yoga ‘be your best zen self’ mind-fuck got to me. I’m going to spend 20 minutes dicking around with Fruit Ninja on my iPhone to re-balance.
Ah, feeling back to myself already.
I’m realizing that I can gush on about Nepal (my new favorite country) forever, so I’ve decided to split my musings on it into two posts.
Love you kids! (I’m writing this while getting drunk on a plane. Does anyone know that song? So good. Thanks for keeping me company today, Dierks.) Bottoms up!
BRB just doing stuff for a bit k?