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Homecoming in the Himalayas

Annapurna Circuit: Day 1

Ngadi to Jagat

Distance: 12 Kilometers

Elevation climbed: 750 meters (550 m uphill and 200 m downhill)

Calories burned: 2,400

Well friends, we are on the road again. Or on the trail, I should say. We loaded up our backpacks in Kathmandu yesterday morning and set off for an 8-hour bus ride to Ngadi to start the Annapurna Circuit. Andrew has never been this far east, and was one-part entertained, one-part frightened to death by our bus ride, where we were riding three cars deep on a narrow gravel road along a mountainside, with nothing but rice fields to cushion our fall. In fact, our guide today, in passing, mentioned that 7 people died just this week due to a bus-related crash. Heartening.

We had a tourist bus for the first part of the ride, but then were moved to a local bus for the last few hours, where so many people filled the bus that two people began sharing one seat, and children were passed off to the closest stranger for safety.  I was the lucky winner of an eight-year old boy who (I think) was scared to death of sitting on the blonde white lady’s lap.  But I was so happy to share a local moment with these amazing people.

We did arrive by 6pm, and made it safe and sound to our first tea house last night.  Many of the tea houses depend upon solar panels for electricity, and since we’ve chosen to trek during monsoon season (my brilliant idea), hot water was unavailable, so my first shower of the trek was brisk.

We woke up early this morning, had a little breakfast (the food here is crazy cheap), and set off.  We saw breathtaking waterfalls, gorgeous views of rice fields, and 20 different species of butterflies that we’ve never seen back home.  It was stunning. 

And the people here are so beautiful, inside and out. Our guide, Kumar, and porter (who is also a guide) Sontosh, have been awesome, pointing out the different kinds of bananas grown on the mountains or explaining the cast system, and Kumar gave us a sacred holy rock from Tibet, right out of his pocket, today. And then I made a new friend at one of the tea houses, Paru, who wanted to take pictures with me and held hands with me for several hundred feet after heading off on the trail after tea.

Monsoon season certainly presents its own…challenges.  We witnessed a landslide or two first-hand today, and had to, at times, scale the muddy walls of our hillside to make it over them or back to dry land.

But what an awesome experience.

And today reminded us how lucky we are to see this beauty of nature.  And provided us with purpose again, which we sorely needed after several weeks of gluttony.

Andrew began to see the world with wide eyes again today, and I was reminded why I’ve been summoned back here, over and over again.  I sincerely believe that Nepal is the most naturally beautiful place on earth.