KATHMANDU, Nepal // When you travel, you meet a lot of interesting characters. Some who become life long friends. Others you talk to for hours but never get their names and then part ways never to be seen again. Some you wish you hadn’t met. These are a few of the characters we met trekking Nepal.
Baal, Prim, Prokash // Our guides and porters were small in size but strong in character. What we did was a feat of personal pride, but what they did was nothing short of super hero. Not only did they carry one persons pack, but we shared a porter between two people. They had to have been carrying 75 pounds each by ropes only attached to their forehead. Not only were they fun and met us with high fives and smiles at each days destination, but they also taught us about the Nepali culture. They taught us Dhumbal, a Nepali card game which they played and drank with us. Prokash is 20, and about to start his first year at university. Prim has 3 daughters and was 50 years old. Baal was 31 and had been a porter for 7 years and a tour guide the last 7 after teaching himself English. He was quick with a joke and had the most contagious laugh. He single handedly organized my Dad's 60th birthday party complete with chocolate cake with Happy Birthday Kurt written on it. as well as a traditional Nepali hat and scarf. Bal's best joke was when I saw a caterpillar and he turned to me and said with a straight face, "We eat them." I said, "Caterpillars?" trying not to sound judgemental. He nodded continuing, "Yes, in butter, fried." Then a huge smile broke across his face, "Butter-Fry.... Butterfly". Hahaha it's the most innocent perfect joke I have ever heard. These are the moments I remember the most from the trek, our interactions with Bal, Prim, and Prokash.
"Fredette" // There are those people who travel alone because they truly enjoy the solitude, and there are those people who travel alone because no one will travel with them. We ended up calling her "Fredette" in honor of a Fred we trekked with once in Machu Picchu. Fred was an expert at everything, karate, Spanish, trekking, breathing, you name it this guy could one up you. I first met “Fredette” when I was sitting in a tea house meditating. That’s right, she approached me while my eyes were closed and I was sitting in half Lotus pose in the middle of meditating to introduce herself. I’ve been working on my patience and my compassion and so I welcomed her and I listened to her talk at me for a while. Later that evening we were in the middle of a card game, monopoly shuffle, which is rather complicated and she invited herself into the game with commentary while looking over our shoulders. I always wonder about these people. What makes them tick? I may never know, but they are enigmas to me.
Bern // Bern, short for Bernard and he was from Germany. He looked like he had just walked out of an REI catalogue. Vest with pockets, zip away pants, clean clothes with creases still. Bern also traveled with just a guide and porter and quietly walked the trail. Slow and steady wins the race. He was a man of few words. Though we got his name, we never got his full story and that almost made it better. He was this stoic father figure who could have come straight out of an Indiana Jones movie.
Paul // Paul was a Canadian born in Scotland. Paul is 59, married, and used to be in the Canadian Air Force. He now travels 6 months out of the year. He’s been to Mongolia, Kazakstan, and every other country I’ve ever heard of. Plus he has delivered 6 babies while flying in a helicopter. We learned all this in the first minute of meeting Paul. In the preceding hour we didn’t ask a single question to Paul, we just listened to him talk about his travels. Interesting stories and we learned a lot and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Paul. As much as I travel I find no greater joy than sharing the experiences with the ones I love.
Jelmer and Maarit // A couple we befriended on the trail and taught Monopoly Shuffle to. They were from Holland and were strong fit people. We hit it off over photography and kind of clicked right away. Jelmer was our friend who suffered from altitude sickness at High Camp. They never made it through the pass but we met up with them again back in Kathmandu. They are friends I will hopefully see again, perhaps on another adventure we plan together. Its funny how the universe brings people into your life.
All these people weave together to become the fabric of our travels. Without the people you meet, travel is just a pretty insta feed. The memories come from the people.