Another early morning, still without electricity, I spent the early hours running down my iPad checking internet sites planning my hike. I’m still not sure why the wifi works when the electricity is out but they do have a low voltage backup which I guess powers the router. Himalaya Java was calling me though, so a breakfast of pancakes and a couple of cups of coffee were a great way to start the morning. CNN was on the television so I got all up to date with the current US political controversies — today it was the republicans blocking any Supreme Court appointment Obama would dare to make and the Kendrick Lamar Grammy performance. Race pervades it all. I wandered a bit, happening onto a shop in a narrow alley where many women were stooped over, carving prayers on stones. Nearby were wood carvers, keeping alive the art so in evidence in the partially ruined temples I walked through at Durbar square. And of course, at every turn someone wanting to be a guide or to sell me hash (or both). Thankfully checked out of the hotel and carried my pack a few short blocks to the Hotel Amaryllis– a clean, well-maintained place at the end of an alley just off the street with most of the trekking stores. There is a little plot of grass out front, the only green I’ve seen just yet. I’m hoping it will all lighten my mood– the past few days I’ve been a bit down, worrying over paperwork from school, messages, etc. and not yet embracing the adventure I’m beginning. Finished out by visiting the Kathmandu Environmental Education Project where I spoke a long time with the director about planning treks– a really helpful conversation that will guide my decisions in the coming days. That also stoked my enthusiasm to get back out on the trail. Had dinner at the New Orleans Cafe, an interesting courtyard restaurant bearing almost no relation to New Orleans except vegetarian jambalaya and a jazz soundtrack. Their specialty seems to be wine and meat cooked on a smokey grill on the edge of the courtyard. A black cat prowls the dining area, crying for scraps. It was on a very quiet alley, primarily populated by tourists or expats. A lot of American accents but they seemed to be discussing relief efforts and the like, not planning to bungie jump the next day. After dinner, I ordered a second glass of wine (been avoiding alcohol these past days) to listen to traditional Nepali instruments playing jazz–a trio on Tabala (drum) Basuri (wooden flute), and sarangi (a lute-like stringed instrument played with a bow). It was a magical place to end the day.
T. Hugh Crawford