Day 16: Kathmandu

What a joy it was to sleep last night in real sheets versus a sub-zero sleeping bag in a room that was not freezing. Thank you Amy for suggesting the Hyatt as a great place to recover! My latest challenge is to figure out how to get my things all packed the right way to fit and get home. Fortunately I have eaten, or unloaded on my porter, my Cliff Bars and Gatorade Power Bars, which took up a surprising amount of space, but I have also purchased gifts for others and items for myself. Tomorrow I may decide to leave a few more items here like the array of pharmaceutical supplies.

After breakfast and some blog work (videos now uploaded) my guide met me at noon to take me to the original hotel where we stayed. Alas, no longer a 5 star, but a comfortable 3 star. Of course a 1 star would probably exceed some of the places we’ve been these past few weeks. After he dropped me off, I went exploring. Found my way to the Palace Museum which sadly was closed for a religious holiday involving horses. As it turned out, right in front a parade of horses, what looked like riders about to compete in some way, and carriages, went by. Quite the pageantry, and akin to the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace.

As I write this part of the blog, I am having lunch outdoors in the beautiful Garden of Dreams that is open. It is a peaceful spot frequented by Nepalese families and not a small number of lovers whispering sweet nothings to each other. Washed my panini down with a delicious mango mule. Temps in the low 70s and partially overcast.

Following lunch I took a risk and ventured into side streets to shop. GPS helpfully kept me from getting completely lost amidst the chaos all over this place along the narrow streets. This place is, so to speak, definitely not Kansas! How one is not run over continues to amaze me.

The highlight of today, though, was being invited to dinner at my guide’s home. What an honor, and something he did not need to do. He met me at the hotel, flagged down a taxi, assertively negotiated a price for which at one point I thought they might come to blows, and then we proceeded to go deep into the heart of Kathmandu where for sure there were no westerners. We finally got to his apartment, very small and modest by US standards, but a warm home and quiet area by comparison to most places I’ve seen so far. His wife met me warmly but had very limited English. His daughter, about to graduate from HS, was absolutely wonderful with good English and we talked most intelligently about college. She is bright and talented and asked good questions about college in the US. She’d recently been to a US college fair in the area and I knew the 4-5 schools who were there recruiting, including Wright State University where I worked as an ACE Fellow in fall 2009! What a small world. Dinner was most delicious Dal Bhat, in fact the best I’ve had so far! And, it came complete with two large bottles of beer even though they don’t drink. Getting to know the Nepalese people was as much an interest to me as climbing in the Himalaya, so this was a real treat.

Tomorrow Asis picks me up for a visit to one of the national museums. Can’t wait.

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