Best Kind of Lost

Best Kind of Lost

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These Boots Were Made for Walking

by Noelle
September 21 – October 12

 

Boots copy

And that’s just what they did. For 3 weeks and 165 miles.

Our trek through Nepal will remain one of the most visually stunning parts of our round the world adventure. With a grueling schedule that included several hours of hiking along the Annapurna Circuit each day and an insane amount of rice, we loved every minute (okay maybe not every minute…but more on that in Dave’s next post).

Our sherpa (or guide) is named Nima Sherpa. Because that’s how Nepal rolls. The name you attach to your first is your caste. Nima is from a small town in the Everest region, and is part of the Sherpa caste. He has a family name, but rarely uses it. Just a nugget of “stuff you should know if you ever go to Nepal.” AND YOU SHOULD. And? You will call Nima. Because he just may be the nicest man on the planet. We nicknamed him ‘Man of the People’ early on due to the fact that he KNOWS EVERYONE. And if he doesn’t, he gets to know them. Because he’s, you know, interested in peoples’ traditions, families and feelings. We love this man.

NIMA!

NIMA! Who wouldn’t love this face?

Case in point: In the days spent in Kathmandu before leaving for our trek, Nima invited us to spend an evening with his family, preparing a delicious homemade meal (our first exposure to dal bhat).

Case in point: In the days spent in Kathmandu before leaving for our trek, Nima invited us to spend an evening with his family, preparing a delicious homemade meal (our first exposure to dal bhat).

We also brought along not one, but two porters. These are the rockstars that carry our bags. Because we are wusses. The second was added after one picked up our bags and realized we PACKED FOR A YEAR, and not a 3-week trek. Oops. The first earned the nickname Hollywood because when he smiled, he rocked a gen-u-wine movie star megawatt smile. Hottie. The second? We called him Talkie. This got confusing, because it was originally meant to be ironic due to his mute-like tendencies, but then he got all chatty mid-trek. It was too late to go back.

Hollywood's all like "smoldery" side glancing while Talkie quietly focuses on the job at hand. Classic.

Hollywood’s all like “smoldery” side glancing while Talkie quietly focuses on the job at hand. Classic.

This was our posse.

To give you a better idea of what this three-week chunk of our lives looked like, I’ve provided “A Day in the Life” look below.

5:30 am: Alarm goes off. Noelle ignores it. Dave springs out of bed like a freaking tiger from his cage of sleep. WTF.

5:45 am: Dave reminds me patiently that it’s time to get up. He’s all rolling up his sleeping bag.

6:00 am: COFFEE! I’m convinced the in-room delivery is a veiled attempt to make sure we’re awake for our 6:30 am breakfast time. They don’t know about Springs McGee.

KAWFEEEEE!

KAWFEEEEE!

6:45 am: We actually arrive at breakfast. Nima is all smiles despite his confusion on how our clocks in America must run 15 minutes behind. (In fact, they actually run 9 hours and 45 minutes behind. What’s the 45 minutes about, Nepal? Seriously.)

6:45 – 7:30 am: BREAKFAST! And more coffee. Or black tea in Dave’s case. Breakfast ranges based on where we are and what is locally available (because you’ll remember, we’re in THE MIDDLE OF THE HIMALAYAS, so there’s no Jewel truck making daily deliveries of groceries). We eat what God gave them. Or ramen. There’s always ramen. And Snickers or Mars bars. So that’s cool.

Oatmeal with honey. And more coffee for me.

Oatmeal with honey. Side of eggs.

Noodle soup as the mornings grew cold in higher elevations.

Noodle soup as the mornings grew cold in higher elevations.

Breakfast views

Breakfast views

7:30 – 9:45 am: We head out into the great beyond. The scenery changes, and it’s stunning in each phase it takes. The rolling rice paddies change to lush forests of pine and then again to a rocky terrain that tears up your knees, and finally to the barren mud hills as elevation peaks. And back down again. The weather also varies based on the elevation, so some days it’s shorts and a tank top (Dave especially loves these days), other days it’s a down jacket. Right. And while at times we were the only people for miles (literally, as we came on the heels of rainy season’s end and before the rush in November), there is undoubtedly always some sort of path, which while at times was disappointing (who doesn’t want to feel like Marco Polo?), was also deeply comforting.

See?? Tank tops.

See?? Tank tops.

Rice paddies as we made our way through X.

Rice paddies as we made our way through Bahundanda early in the trek.

Checking out the view.

Checking out the view.

Rice paddy hills

Rice paddy hills

Little kid out gathering the family marajana leaves.

Oh you know, just a little kid out gathering the family marijuana leaves.

Pretty

Captions are hard. So just enjoy.

This.

This.

That.

That.

Passing a village perched on the river.

Passing a village perched on the river.

Hiking through the forest.

Hiking through the forest.

An illustration of the strange disparity of views as the days passed.

An illustration of the strange disparity of views as the days passed.

Taking a moment.

Taking a moment.

Excellent location for imparting life advice.

Excellent location for imparting life advice.

"Just trust me" it says.

“Just trust me” it says.

One of the many villages nestled between the mountains.

One of the many villages nestled between the mountains.

These Buddhist prayer wheel lines can be found in every mountain town. Circled clockwise (always), they are a way to honor their gods.

These Buddhist prayer wheel lines can be found in every mountain town. Circled clockwise (always), they are a way to honor their gods.

Giant prayer wheels are often found, housed in ancient buildings and spun only in groups of odd numbers.

Giant prayer wheels are often found, housed in ancient buildings and spun only in groups of odd numbers.

Other Buddhist symbols. Most common (bottom left) are the bright colored prayer flags strewn everywhere... between buildings, across rivers and through trees.

Other Buddhist symbols. Most common (bottom left) are the bright-colored prayer flags strewn everywhere… between buildings, across rivers and through trees.

Another common sight in Buddhist areas, these stupas litter the Annapurna hillsides.

Another common sight in Buddhist areas, these stupas litter the Annapurna hillsides.

9:45 – 10: 15 am: Tea Break! We have become addicts. From the sweetness of Milk Tea, the strange salty flavor of Tibetan Tea, the puckering tang of Ginger-Honey-Lemon Tea to the plain comforting warmth of Black Tea, we couldn’t get enough. And Nima was the anti-sponsor. He was at every turn, offering us tea, feeding our addiction. It’s just what’s done.

Sometimes you veer from the path to taste the local offerings, like in the case of Seabuck Thorn Juice (the SCHNOZBERRIES tastes like SCHNOZBERRY!), and you regret it, wistfully thinking of your old friend, Milk Tea.

Nothing but milk Tea and blue skies. All is right with the world.

Nothing but Milk Tea and blue skies. All is right with the world.

Apple Tea in the Manang Valley

Apple Tea near Marpha.

A Hindu woman in X invited us into her home as she prepared our tea.

A Hindu woman in Chame invited us into her home as she prepared our tea.

Then there were the times where he surprised us with treats during tea. Like homemade apple pie. And I stand by the fact that it would have been totally rude to decline the offer of a second piece.

Then there were the times where Nima surprised us with treats during tea. Like homemade apple pie. And I stand by the fact that it would have been totally rude to decline the offer of a second piece.

Another local treat - corn on the cob. Oddly chewy kernels, but delicious.

Another local treat – corn on the cob. Oddly chewy kernels, but delicious.

One tea break had us contemplating the Lunar Calendar and our respective zodiacal animals. Dave's sign, the cow, is known as "stubborn, conservative and patient." Me, a rooster, is usually described as "diligent, imaginative and needs attention." Shut your mouths.

One tea break had us contemplating the Lunar Calendar and our respective zodiacal animals. Dave’s sign, the cow, is known as “stubborn, conservative and patient.” Me, a rooster, is usually described as “diligent, imaginative and needs attention.” Shut your mouths.

10:15 am – noon: Back on the road for about two hours, where we make our way through more of the beautiful terrain, and sometimes smaller villages and are able to catch a glimpse of daily life for these mountain dwellers. The smiles are abundant and a friendly “namaste” comes readily (although usually only after first offered by us). Kids look after one another while women work in the fields and the men….well, not sure what exactly they do, except sit around and chat. Seriously. Not sure why this is the custom, but it is.

Trek views

A view down the valley

Our fearless leader.

Our fearless leader.

Namaste!

Namaste!

...and this munchkin

…and this munchkin

Drying veggies lined the streets in the local villages.

Drying veggies lined the streets in the local villages.

This fiesty woman was concerned she looked old in the photograph. We (truthfully) told her she was beautiful.

This feisty woman was concerned she looked old in the photograph. We (truthfully) told her she was beautiful.

Locals (women, of course) hard at work carrying home grass for their animals.

Locals (women, of course) hard at work carrying home grass for their animals.

Then, of course, there are the friendly pick-up games of volleyball...

Then there are the things that make you realize things aren’t so very different on this side of the world as you catch a friendly pick-up game of volleyball…

...and monks playing darts.

…and watch monks playing darts.

Left: Dave initially finding his ridiculous sweating entertaining. Right: Not so much as I yell, "PHOTO OPP!"

Left: Dave initially finding his ridiculous sweating entertaining. Right: Not so much as I yell, “PHOTO OPP!”

Noon – 1 pm: LUNCH! MY FAVORITE. This is where we try the local dal bhat. Which we each have 46 times during our time in Nepal. This rice-based dish is always paired with a lentil soup and curried vegetables, but from there, it depends on the place. We have it for lunch and dinner (customary for the Nepalese), taking the occasional greasy break for a change in routine (which we almost always regret). Lunch takes place at a picturesque tea house along our route, run by a local family who is always incredibly friendly. As busy season has yet to ramp up, we are usually the only diners in the place, allowing for lazy lunches with plenty of time for reading or chatting (because really, there aren’t enough hours in the day to tell Dave all the things I’m thinking. Never.).

Sometimes there’d be a surprise with our meals, a la Nima. Something to keep our energy up. That could mean a Snickers bar, sliced long ways to look like a fancy dessert, or perhaps some more apple pie or it could mean YAK CHEESE! Apparently, it’s full of protein and while the first bite is a little waxy, you learn to love it. Crave it. Most people go on this hike and lose weight. We see your weight loss and raise you YAK CHEESE.

Dal bhat lunch break

Dal bhat lunch break

Yak Cheese. Toothpicks. Fancy.

Yak Cheese. Toothpicks. Fancy.

Sometimes the tea houses came with entertainment. The playful kiddos, too young yet to be put to work, like this new friend.

Sometimes lunch came with entertainment. The playful kiddos, too young yet to be put to work, like this new friend.

1 – 3:30 pm-ish: Our final leg of this daily journey is always meditative. Full of rice (and tea), we each settle into the peaceful sounds of our own footsteps and fall contemplative. It’s glorious. And the views continue. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Depending on the elevation change during this portion of the day, it’s not uncommon for my “meditative” state to be replaced by thoughts of “I immediately regret that decision to ask for seconds” or “I think I just threw up in my mouth.”)

At some point when we spotted bulldozers, Dave said it felt like at any moment we could expect angry wild animals around the next tree to be discussing how to take back the forest from the bad guys (a la Fern Gully or Over the Hedge, acceptable reference depending on your age).

At some point when we spotted bulldozers (not pictured), Dave said it felt like at any moment we could expect angry wild animals around the next tree to be discussing how to take back the forest from the bad guys (a la Fern Gully or Over the Hedge, acceptable reference depends on your age).

Waterfalls

Waterfalls

The game of Hide and Seek with the snowy peaks was especially fun.

The game of Hide and Seek with the snowy peaks was especially fun.

One minute, you're hiking through miles of green, and you glance up to catch a view of the white-capped mountains.

One minute, you’re hiking through miles of green, and you glance up to catch a view of the white-capped mountains.

Yaks appeared as we climbed higher, they keep to cold climates (with that fur jacket, I fully understand this decision).

Yaks appeared as we climbed higher, they keep to cold climates (with that fur jacket, I fully understand this decision).

Hike selfie.

Hike selfie.

Can you find me?

Can you see me?

I caved and finally used the poles after my knees went on strike.

I caved and finally used the poles after my knees went on strike.

Usual trek company also included water buffalo, a common food group for the Nepalese.

Usual trek company also included water buffalo, a common food group for the Nepalese.

And donkeys. Always donkeys.

And donkeys. Always donkeys.

Mid-Afternoon: We arrive at the Tea House we’ll be spending the evening in. And if not by tea, we’re greeted with fresh crushed apple juice (the small village of Marpha is known for it’s apple orchards), which blows our minds. It’s like Granny Smith and marshmallows had a love child (EDITOR’S NOTE: Yup. Let that mental image really settle in…). After settling into our room, where Hollywood and Talkie have so kindly put our heavy bags already, we spend hours reading in the cozy rooms or porches of these modest houses nestled in the mountains. It becomes a ritual I long for most of the day, since there is nothing better than curling up with a good book after a shower (if, of course, there is running and/or hot water…both absences are risk factors) and a hard day of physicality.

Freshly squeezed apple juice

Freshly squeezed apple juice. Granny Smarshmallow.

A particularly cozy tea house. Didn't think separate beds would come so early in our marriage.

A particularly cozy tea house. Didn’t think separate beds would come so early in our marriage.

The views overlooking the mountains out our windows were stunning.

The views overlooking the mountains out our windows were stunning.

Chilling, maxing, relaxing all cool.

Chilling, maxing, relaxing all cool.

Book nerd heaven.

Book nerd heaven.

Triumphant after our final day of hiking. Back to rice paddy views.

Triumphant after our final day of hiking. Back to rice paddy views.

When we still have the energy, after settling in, we wander the towns and explore the hillsides, catching the daily lives of the locals and learning that each village has its own personality.

In X, we were invited into the family home for a funeral ceremony, where 10 monks prayed (and would continue to do so every 7th day for X days) for the grandfather who had recently passed.

In Bagarchap, we were invited into the family home for a funeral ceremony, where 10 monks prayed (and would continue to do so every 7th day for 49 days) for the grandfather who had recently passed.

The Buddhist prayer books were beautiful. Ancient, handwritten pages of chants and prayers, passed down through generations.

The Buddhist prayer books were beautiful. Ancient, handwritten pages of chants and prayers, passed down through generations.

And then this shot happened.

And then this shot happened.

In X, they aired the content-appropriate, Brad Pitt flick nightly. Priorities, people.

In Manang, they aired the content-appropriate, Brad Pitt flick nightly. Priorities, people.

In the hill town of X, Dave and I received blessings at the local monastery.

In the hills above Manang, Dave and I received blessings at the local monastery.

An evening hike to explore the hilltop monastery rewarded us with more incredible views.

A late afternoon hike to explore the hilltop monastery rewarded us with more incredible views.

Some local cuties playing tag as we wandered the streets.

Some local cuties playing tag as we wandered the streets.

Helping mom and dad with chores.

Helping mom and dad with chores.

Birds eye view of the bustling town of X.

Birds eye view of the bustling town of Marpha.

Between 6:30 and 8:30 pm: We eat dinner slightly later than my Naples-living grandma does, and we rarely change it up. Dal bhat for 2. However, to keep the home cooks guessing, we at times add a side of Tibetan bread, which is basically a funnel cake without the powdered sugar. Afterward, we lounge around letting our rice and carnival food settle, play cards, toss dice or catch each other up on our respective days fall into silence as we eagerly delve back into our books. We also make friends along the way, as you tend to do when you’re 2 of 20 people making their way miles through the wilderness. Our favorite tagalongs were a foursome from Down Under (with one kiwi in the bunch) and we loved the shiny distraction of other people to fill the long hours each evening.

A typical kitchen.

A typical kitchen.

Dal bhat, Exhibit A

Dal bhat, Exhibit A

Dal bhat, Exhibit B

Dal bhat, Exhibit B

Dal bhat, Exhibit C. You get the idea.

Dal bhat, Exhibit C. You get the idea.

I know what you're thinking, and no, that's not an angry homeless man poaching a seat at my table.

I know what you’re thinking, and no, that’s not an angry homeless man poaching a seat at my table.

Just Say No to rice wine.

Just Say No to rice wine.

Even when it's called Apple Rice Wine. It tastes like windex.

Even when it’s tricksy and called Apple Rice Wine. It tastes like windex.

The gang at our final dinner. DO YOU SEE NIMA WAVING?? Hollywood, we know you're too cool to smile, and we forgive you.

The gang at our final dinner. DO YOU SEE NIMA WAVING?? I die. Hollywood, we know you’re too cool to smile, and we forgive you.

9 pm: We’re in bed. For reals. It’s Dave’s grandpa-like dream come true. I usually pout and stay up reading past bedtime, but after realizing how much a day of trekking takes a toll on both your mental and physical stamina, my eyelids get heavy and I nod off, dreaming of tea and dal bhat.

And it all begins again the next day.

I tell ya. One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Ba doom doom doom doom, doom doom doom doom….)

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Ba doom doom doom doom, doom doom doom doom….)

 

What do you think?

Please keep your comments polite and on-topic.


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comments

This is amazing. I love reading your posts and hearing about your adventures. Think you should write a book when you guys get home. And I can’t wait to do more traveling, however in 1-2 week segments. I’m not brave enough to do what you guys did…

Christina Capowich

November 18, 2013

You two are insanely awesome! Wonderful post, keep them coming. Safe travels! Xoxo

Katie Vidaillet

November 18, 2013

Loooooooooved this. Thanks for sharing your adventures with us!

Allison

November 18, 2013

Great Posts! Love you guys!

Mike

November 17, 2013

i received your blog address from emily & jake. i set them up with nima when they were in nepal. it makes my soul feel good to see nima out on another trek. did you get to drink the hot beer at his house? that was one of my favorite memories. awesome photos. really enjoyed them. nicely done. -kent

kent

November 6, 2013

This is the post I’ve been (patiently) waiting for – a day in the life of the Annapurna trek, and it did not disappoint! Loved this, Noelle, you made me feel like I was there. David, now you’re up! xo

Jill B.

November 6, 2013

So well-written you two! I’m glad you had such an incredible experience. Was thinking about you guys, and continue to of course. We referred to Nima as our second father. Seriously.love.that.man. Catch you on email world travelers! xo

Emily F.

November 4, 2013

1 notes

  1. A Week in Nepal’s Capital | Best Kind of Lost reblogged this and added:

    […] the trek (read more about it here and here), we returned to Kathmandu to spend a week awaiting our Indian visas (we had to wait out […]