Get your day pack ready, dear Reader, for a weekend of adventuring in the Annapurna Mountain Range! After a full week at the work site our group is setting off for a two day trek to the small village of Dhampus. It will take us a few hours to get to our lodgings and we set out armed with snacks, our day packs full of one change of clothes, and our guide, Krishna.
To The Top!
We begin our trek and, rather naturally, divide into smaller groups. Tony, Amy, and Jason are leading the pack, laughing boisterously and exchanging Seinfeld quotes. I listen quietly as several of my group members talk about how they came to be on this trip. Some needed a break from corporate life and some always wanted to see Nepal. Others are a bit more vague which I understand completely (at least, I think I do); in addition to being interested in Nepal, I was feeling a bit “soul sick” and just wanted to get the hell outta town.
The dirt path of the forest gives way to quiet villages and lush, green farm terraces. It is serene except for the occasional cluster of children who pop out of the grass and declare, “Give me sweets!” Hmm… less than charming. These kids remind me of monkeys: kind of cute from a distance, but mostly just annoying and scrounging for food when you get up close.
Further up into the mountains we spot a school and I contemplate what it might be like growing up in such a remote place with strange foreigners passing through. We encounter a goat fight – another highlight along the road. Our group stands by for a while and watches as the two goats literally butt heads. I battle the urge to separate them and decide to take a photo instead. I wonder what they are fighting about?
The Snicker Roll Incident
Finally, after working up quite a sweat, we arrive at our lodging. The rooms are quaint and each one faces the Southern end of the Annapurna Range. After dinner we sit outside and enjoy a breathtaking view of the sun setting behind the massive Mt. Machhapuchhare, commonly known as Fishtail mountain. People throw “breathtaking” around a lot but I can truly say – without any hint of exaggeration – this is a moment I will remember forever. A profound sense of gratitude washes over me.
The hushed awe that has fallen over our group is interrupted by our host offering us dessert, something called a Snicker Roll. Even after a tasty dinner, we are eager for an indulgence and everyone raises their hand indicating they would like some. Snicker Roll?! Collectively, we wonder aloud about the forthcoming Snicker-based treat. I’m picturing a hefty dessert à la the Cheesecake Factory while Mark thinks it might be some sort of ice cream cake with Snicker crumble. The possibilities are endless!
After what seems like an eternity, our host approaches with a silver platter and, with a bit of flourish (unless I’m imagining it), presents us with our snicker rolls. There, elegantly placed on the silver serving platter, are a bunch of run-of-the-mill packaged Snickers bars. The disappointment is crushing. I glance at Mark; I don’t think I’ve ever seen a grown man look so crestfallen. Everyone bursts into laughter while our poor host looks at us foreigners in confusion. Of course they are plain Snickers bars! We’re in the middle of a tiny village on a distant mountain range! Talk about a case of first world expectations and third world realities… (For the record: I did still eat the Snickers).
This Little Light Of Mine
The sun has set but we continue to sit, enjoying the stars and the slight chill that has crept into the air. In the darkness I can barely see the outline of the enormous mountains across from us. Suddenly, I notice little fiery bursts popping up along the range. The image makes my heart beat faster. Campfires! People!
There, in an immense expanse of darkness, in the most remote corner of the world, we find bursts of light. Those trekkers or villagers, who seem so close to each other from my perspective, are likely oblivious to their proximity to one another. And maybe that’s how it goes: we wander through the forest – sometimes clumsily, sometimes with ease – until, every now and again, we stumble upon a kindred spirit. Another little burst of light.
“What do you think?” Tony asks.
I pause, not wanting to reveal too much of myself. Besides, those fires generated a seedling of a thought and I haven’t quite worked it out just yet.
“It reminds me of The Lord of the Rings… when they light the beacons,” I reply somewhat truthfully.
He laughs and agrees. I think we’ll be friends but I haven’t given myself over to the idea just yet….
Let’s leave off here for now, dear Reader. The night is still young and there is so much more to share!