Written by Monika Terfloth.
This is part 3 of 10 of the “Mother in-law” series IN Nepal and India.
We arrived back from our trek yesterday afternoon. What an stunning 5 days, I hardly know where to begin. It may take a few trips down to this internet cafe to write each of several chapters.
Day one – Naya Pul to Hille
We met our guide and two porters, all women, the afternoon before leaving on the trek and Renuka, our guide, in halting English, gave us a briefing of the trip. Early the next morning with the mist rising from the lake we board the bus to Naya Pul. The ride is eventful as any bus trip in this country is bound to be. All of us craning our necks out the bus windows to watch numerous herds of goats being shepherded down the roadway in the opposite direction. The herds share the same narrow rubble roadway as the busses, a roadway that is designed for only one car to travel in one direction at one time. Precipice on one side, wall of rock on the other. Sometimes we are on the side with the rock wall. The goats are being herded to market in the city in time for day 8 of the two-week Deshain festival, where they will be sacrificed and eaten. Some are small herds, others number a hundred or more, many being herded four or five days walk out of mountain villages. Each shaggy goat in the herd is identified with a particular streak of blue, orange, yellow paint on the horns. Over and over again our bus driver needs to pull to the side to allow yet another herd to pass by.
Because of the goats, we reach Naya Pul later than expected, but still time to begin the trek, a trek that will take us into the mountains along centuries old stone footpaths and stone stairs that lead through small villages still only accessible on foot. As we walk we continue to meet herds and herds of goats, sometimes boiling over the top of the path to meet us with just enough time to flatten ourselves against the bank to let them by. “Be careful for the horns” warns Renuka. The herders sweep branches and call or whistle to the herd to keep the goats on track. Each handsome herder has a wonderful white smile(what great teeth the Nepalis have!) and smooth shiny black hair. Each has time to nod “Namaste”. There is news of a goat shortage in Kathmandu, so they should fetch a good price and it is hard to imagine that, with all these goats, that there will not be enough for all.
We continue on along the incredibly old stone pathway, decorated of course by goat dung, and follow the course of a rushing river. We look up the mountain to terraced green fields dotted with cottages as far a the eye can see. The steep climb begins, the day is getting hotter. We are winded and dripping with sweat. Renuka encourages water breaks and we find that we all need to stop every half hour. Thank goodness for a breeze to cool the sweat.
Our destination today is the village of Hille. We arrive in the late afternoon at our small tea house in a white-washed village, similar to those we see on the opposite lush green, terraced hillside. Our small room is white-washed clay brick and has a small shuttered window to the rear which we open to find a grassy bank with nothing between us but our first ever chicken-wire window. Practical and perfect for keeping out the small animals we hear rustling in the night. The bed consists of a foam pad on a few wooden planks. The aging lino is a brilliant green with white stars. We are grateful for a place to rest and peel off the sweat soaked clothing. Food is prepared for us, a traditional evening meal of dal bhat (rice, lentil curry, steamed veges) We spend a peaceful evening on the open air dining area with a few other travelers. Before bed, Renuka gives us a few details about tomorrow’s walk. It starts with a two- hour steep uphill climb. She points out the mountain, my jaw drops and my only response is “You’re joking! “. “No really” she answers quietly