The adventures of an unfit old guy in a country built for real men. Or how I managed to walk across a high bridge, fall on a cactus and injure myself popping out for a pizza in downtown Pathan in a country where real men climb the highest mountains in the world.
This was my second visit to Nepal and my first flight anywhere on my own. I took it because my first visit was so well organised by my good friend Dave Phoenix that I knew I needed to find out a few things for myself if my campaign to raise funds was to work at all. Also, I wanted to see a bit of Nepal outside of the Kathmandu Valley. Climbing Everest was out of the question but I thought a few miles into the hills where the migrant children come from was manageable. Except, in my usual way, I managed to visit a totally different group of villages altogether many hills and valleys away from the kids of Kopila Nepa school.
I kept a diary so as to make this article reasonably accurate. However, I have no idea where the diary is but hey ho let’s get it all down now.
Monday, 11th December: Apart from the visit to the doctor regarding a lump which turned out to be cancerous on 17th November and a semi enforced retirement on 8th December nothing much else was going on in my life at the time. So, for the first time ever I took a flight on my own to a country I had visited once before. OK, so flying solo is not that big a deal, unless you are actually piloting the thing but it was still a tiny nudge out of the comfort zone I have kept myself in since I was born in 1952. I don’t like airports and find plane journeys uncomfortable and boring. I am sure sheep on their way to becoming chops have a far less comfortable experience but at least they don’t have to try and eat indigestible food out of unopenable plastic packets with arms fixed to their sides like octopi trying to negotiate a test tube. Still, I got there – there being the chaotic Tribuvhan International airport, Kathmandu.
It was dark when I arrived – oh joy! I needed to find Rupesh who was to take me to my guest house in neighbouring Pathan. Fortunately, Rupesh found me.
Following Rupesh in the confusion and darkness of Kathmandu I took a taxi to my guest house – almost. Kathmandu, Pathan and indeed most of Nepal do not have quite the same idea of what constitutes a road as we do. As we turned down the narrow alley which was the only way to reach the guest house we soon realised that we were indeed on a very narrow alley. This would have been fine except that, halfway down, by way of a minor hazard the whole path was blocked by a large pile of dirt and the uncovered hole from which it had been dug. This is so Nepal. I dragged my case the final fifty metres or so to the double gate which guarded the guest house, all the time looking steadfastly forward so as not to see or hear the crunch of metal on stone as the unhappy taxi driver reversed all the way up a lane a mere two inches wider than his car.
Still, the guest house was fine and my bedroom huge, warm and clean. Tomorrow morning was going to be quiet and a chance to take a few photos before Rupesh would come to take me to the delightful Kopila Nepa school.