Nepal! It already feels like a lifetime ago. Would it be silly for me to count hair washes as a measurement of time? It’s been about 5 hair washes. That is about 5-6 weeks if you didn’t know. An in Nepal? Well, I got through our trip with zero hair washes and one shower.
Because… while some people may love a good, cold shower to energize their body, I do not. And like our family trip to Colombia, warm showers were not something easy to come by. A true luxury. And while most people may never think about it… every single time I step into a warm shower: I know that each second of warm running water is a true luxury. Or really: any second of running water is a luxury– warm or not.
Our Nepal trip was really good. I mean, with the exception of Marlowe and I getting in contact with some sort of nasty food bacteria towards the end of the trip– it was good. We arrived to Nepal with zero plans made. We were able to do this because my lifelong friend Lisa would be waiting for us with open arms. And while, she is a badass travel planner (by profession)— neither one of us even thought for a second to make plans for this trip. We both assumed (and knew) that I could show up (with my family) and we could wing it. We knew could do everything there was to do, or nothing at all, and be completely content.
And other than the lack of physical warmth we experienced, we were.
Nice winter socks with slip-ons, Alex.
Marlowe found comfort and joy in Nepal… just like she did in France. She arrived, acclimated to (a very small) elevation rise and a (much larger) time change, and not only adjusted her surroundings, but thrived in them too.
We slept in a small guest house just outside our friends house. And each morning, Marlowe would wake up, crawl out of her sleeping bag (we had her in an outdoor sleeping bag to keep warm), and make her way to the one heated room in the main house. She would spend her mornings there, by the fireplace (sometimes homeschooling), until the sun warmed up the patio enough for us to make our way outside. And then she’d play. All day. Anytime that we spent on the property and not exploring the city, she’s just run throughout the yard with the property dog, Lucy, and usually a broom too. She built shrines, and forts, and enjoyed the gifts of being an imagination filled joyous kid.
Marlowe comes to life outdoors. It’s part of the reason I wanted to move to Guatemala– to be able to spend more time where we belong: outside.
I’ve always dreamed of visiting Nepal. The longest friendship I’ve ever had belongs to a badass woman named Lisa. We met when we were four and five and got along from the start with a shared connection of immigrant mothers and extraordinarily white (and tall) fathers. From as far back as I can remember she traveled to Nepal with her family. And each trip back she’d bring me glass bangles or itchy yak sweaters for herself — that I would often borrow / gift myself from her closet. These things seemed so different from the culture I grew up in with my Spanish mother and French father.
Lisa and I promised each other that one day we’d go to Nepal together. And with her recent move there this past year— and my family on the road, the timing just seemed right. And like I said, while Lisa can plan amazingly awesome trips (she does it everyday) I knew that I could visit this far away land and enjoy it, without one single plan made.
I think most of us have a travel wish list, and for me, Nepal was always on there, engraved in me since elementary years. Something so distant, foreign, yet not completely unattainable. And so… we went.
Where did you stay in Nepal?
We stayed on our friend Ben’s property in the Senepa area in Kathmandu. You can find the airbnb cabin HERE. But do note that the place is intended for two guests, not three. They were kind enough to set up an extra ben for Marlowe in the room.
You guys know the past 6 months or so has been really hard on my family. But sometimes, just sometimes the sun warmed the patio long enough to have bare feet or sandals outside. Another simple thing that brings me so much pleasure. Something that made me feel alive again in this tough time for sure.
Lisa and Ben. My friends. Our hosts. Like us: lovers of dance parties, 90’s music, spicy food, and terrible puns.
Did you feel safe?
The feeling of safety is a personal and subjective idea. So while we may feel completely safe everywhere we go, others might not. For me? I feel more ease traveling across the globe than I do in a crowd in the streets of New York city or at a concert in Boston. In general I think the mysteries and questions of *the unknown* can feel unnerving, but the reality is: more times than not, theres nothing to fear.
Much like most of the world, everywhere we have visited has been filled with the kindest people of the most amazing cultures. The two main religions in Nepal are buddhism and hindi— two cultures largely based on compassion and the idea of advancing through a kind and noble life. Not once did I feel uneasy or unsafe in Nepal— not by people anyway. The temple monkeys can be a bit intimidating though, haha.
Media coverage often works off fear. It tries to convince us that the world is a scary and dangerous place– that people are bad and are out to harm us. Not everyone is corrupt. Not every country is filled with terrible people. I know I just said this in my last post, but it’s true: most people in the world are just like you. Everyone is doing their best to live their lives, take care of themselves, and care for their families. Yes, crime rates can be higher or lower in some countries. And yes, there are exceptions for sure, but I’m sure you’ll find that most places you’ll travel to will be just as dangerous as wandering your home city.
This is a great ted talk to watch if you’ve ever been scared of the unknown in traveling.
Curious about Nepal…. Will I like it? -from a high maintenance /hates to be dirty girl
Probably not. I hate to say it, but (while the idea of it may be) Nepal is not necessarily a glamorous travel destination. I think many of us have this mystical ideal of what the Himalayas could and should be— but the touristy, easy to get to spots are not this… Not anymore anyway. Kathmandu valley has over 5 million people living in it— it’s busy and crowded to say the least.
Our current way of living is putting a burden on many of the countries throughout Asia. Even Tibet which is a completely carbon neutral country is facing pollution problems due to it’s boarding countries factory output. Consumerism teaches us that we *need* more. These countries produce more and the earth suffers. You will feel the pollution in Kathmandu.
It’s a beautiful country with beautiful people and a beautiful culture, but id say this was one of the hardest places we came to visit. That’s not to say a trip out there isn’t worth it, it is— especially if it’s been on your bucket list for a long time, but don’t expect your trip to be a walk on the beach. We showered once on this trip, it was too cold for us.
Luckily we are not exceptionally high maintenance. I mean, we need warmth (keep in mind that we come from a subtropical climate that barely reaches below 75 degrees, haha!) and food our stomach can tolerate, but outside of this we are easy. For us the tougher parts are the cold nights (and days). We would wake up in the morning and you could see our breath INSIDE the house. We struggle with things like this. But there are things like showers— while we prefer to take regular showers– we can get through an 11-ish day long trip with minimal showers.
In Kathmandu the streets are covered in dust in the dry season and mud in the wet season. And the air is thick with industrial pollution. We were told for a view of the Himalayas we’d have to take the 30 minute plane ride to a smaller city/town or make a 6 hour drive out. We didn’t do this on this trip. We did take an hour-long car ride up and out of the valley to try to see the mountains. We dropped dour bags at the front desk of the hotel– walked to the edge and looked out at the grey clouds– not a mountain to be found.
Did you struggle with language barrier?
For us, the scariest part of travel is in fact the language barrier. Maybe that’s part of the reason we spend so much of our time in central america and the Caribbean— that and cost of course.
In Nepal we had Lisa and Ben, both fluent in Nepali. We also had Sri, a guide that has known Lisa since around Marlowe’s age. Sri gave us a tour around and for lunch he let the staff know of my food allergies and our vegan preferences so we wouldn’t have to worry.
You’ll find that most hotels (if not all hotels?) will have English-speaking staff. This is pretty standard. So while all markets and restaurants may not have staff that are easy to communicate with, you’ll find it rather easy to stay at hotels. For traveling to countries with a different language, I suggest traveling with friends savvy of the language, a guide, or just jumping in head first with a smile and an eagerness to learn…
Even when we’ve traveled to places where we did not speak the language and did not have friends or guides, we just dove in and did what we could: our best 😉
Marlowe and the Himalayas. We didn’t find this funny. I forget the joke I told her to make her laugh… but it must have been a good one.
Our trip to Nepal was good. Maybe we could have planned more— or better yet, we could have gone in summer, but it was a good trip. We had exploring time and down time. I read blogs in advance that warned that this would be a tough trip to do — with kids or weak stomachs. And the blogs were right— at least for us and for the people I know who have traveled there. But even still, I’m grateful we made the journey. If I had the choice, I’d still choose to go, even with the unfortunate tummy trouble ending.
The last photo is from a walk we did in the mountain town outside the valley. We came across thousands of prayer flags in the forest. I wish I could tell you the stories behind them… but I can’t. All I can say is that I wish I had forest filled with prayer flags of my very own.