MANANG, Nepal // There was a silver dollar size piece of soggy wet bar soap sitting on a dirty cinderblock in the bathroom. “Yes! Soap!” I was so happy I grabbed it and washed my dirty hands from trekking the last 3 hours. If I saw a ‘bar' of soap in a bathroom at a restaurant in NYC, or at a shopping mall growing up, I probably would have never touched it. It’s dirty right? It’s soap though. There were many times along the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal I felt so grateful for such simple things that in the end I surprised myself with how easy it would be to live simpler lives.
Once we got onto the Annapurna Circuit in Jagat, simple amenities that we are so used to suddenly became obsolete. Our accommodation in the teahouses was minimal at best. It was 2 cots in a room with 4 walls and a roof. That was pretty much it, unless we were higher altitude we got a dirty and used down comforter for warmth. Day by day I compiled things in my head that I was grateful for. Toilets were reduced to holes in the ground that you had to squat at. There were no towels that we are so used to having at hotels either. I used a tank top to dry myself throughout the week. There was hot water at a handful of the places and those turned into a blessing. Soap and toilet paper turned into luxuries. We were surprised to find that most teahouses below 4000 meters did in fact have wifi, that actually worked. What also amused me was the price drinking water as we went up in altitude. In Kathmandu you can buy a liter of bottled water for 20 Nepali rupees (about 20 cents in USD). When we were in the teahouses in high altitude it averaged 150 rupees (about $1.50 USD) and at high camp 4900 meters it peaked at 230 rupees (2.30 USD). Economics in Nepal at work.
The food was really delicious and we had yak meat, noodles, and a Nepali dish Dhal Bhat. Most menus are the same. It’s crazy to think that I have the choice to go back to a civilized world where we can buy anything we want at a local store in town 10 minutes away. I have access to drinking water out of a tap. I can take multiple hot water showers a day. I can have a heater in the winter and air conditioner in the summer.
My bag I realized had about twice as much as I needed. Our guide Baal had a tiny backpack but only wore the same 2 shirts and one pair of pants the entire trip. The rest of his bags was full of pomegranates and apples that he brought for his tourist group / (us). I think I never really realized how much I had and how much excess people in the USA or the western world live with and how much is necessary.