On my first day back in Nepal I was browsing through a few shelf rows of books at the comfortable and friendly Yala Peak Hotel and was drawn to a single book, ‘Touching My Father’s Soul’ by Lapsing Tenzing Norgay the son of Tenzing Norgay who was the first, along with Edmund Hillary to scale Mt. Everest back in 1953. I read parts of it each of my first few days on the trek and was enjoying it immensely as he and many Sherpas had such a different perspective on climbing. While westerners mostly see Everest as something to conquer, the Sherpas approach it humbly with caution and gratitude to the goddess of Everest, Miyolangsangma, for allowing them up.
On the 5th day of this journey, trekking the Annapurna Circuit, plodding through 2 to 3 feet of snow on the way to Manang worrying about whether the closed high Thorong Pass will open, I quiet my mind and focus on my breathing and start to enjoy the sky, mountains, trees, river, sound of the birds and wind. Feeling connected to it all no less no more than a stone. And soon realize that the scenery is more spectacular than I have ever seen before in Nepal because of all this snow and I start enjoying the walk more. Then mindful of the packed snow from the trekkers and locals before me I felt gratitude to all of them for making the way easier for me and others. These thoughts brought happiness.
Just seconds later walking into Humde I stepped into a deep hidden pool of icy water and soaked my entire boot. Normally this would have me cursing to the moon but in such a happy state I only laughed and thought how lucky I was to be in a village where I could stop and rest and perhaps find a fire to dry my boot. I passed a teahouse that looked inviting but kept walking and on my right side there was a new, wooden L structure that looked like a restaurant but there was no sign. I entered into the property and walked to the first door and was greeted with a Namaste and a smile by a 30ish Tibetan woman in the cleanest and perhaps coziest kitchen I’ve ever seen on a Nepal trek. The eastern exposure was a window with warm sunshine coming through. There were cushioned benches on two sides and the woman, Bishnu, managed the wood fire and cooking from the fourth side. I sat on one of the benches by the fire and removed my boots while Bishnu made some Masala tea and filled my thermos. Then 2 Tibetan sisters entered and sat down on the second bench. I asked if I could take their photo and they said “no” emphatically as women in the Manang region often do. Bishnu had some nice soft music playing and asked me what I liked and I played, ‘I Will Be There’ by Katie Melua for them which they seemed to enjoy. Then the 2 sisters gave Bishnu some small gifts and I reached into my pocket and just happened to have 3 chocolates so gave them to my 3 new friends. The sisters went to leave and then asked if I would like that photo which I happily took preserving this pleasant memory. When I went to leave after finishing my tea Bishnu took my thermos and cleaned the cap and then filled it with hot tea for my remaining walk to Manang and would not take my money. I told her I would like to stay and drink the tea there and she nodded yes with a smile. So she and I sat outside on a bench watching her husband slowly use a wooden paddle to dig a narrow trench to flow the melting snow away from the walkway. Very meditative and peaceful with the snow peaked Himalayas in the background. So I finished my tea said goodbye and walked the remaining 3 hours to Manang singing and enjoying all that Nepal offers.