Saturday, July 21, 2012

a nepali road trip

At seven in the morning, we settled into lumpy seats 15 and 16 on a rickety old bus, and waited with heavy eyelids to leave Kantipur. We felt relaxed and adequately prepared for the six to twelve hour ride to Pokhara— our backpacks crammed with clothes, sketching gear, water, bananas, cookies, and various first aid supplies. I couldn't resist pestering a sleepy Pedro with all my knowledge of the road and terrain, of where we might catch our first glimpse of the Himalaya, and where I ate roadside ramen with Acharya K.S. and Passang last summer. Pedro would nod politely with a mm-hm, his eyes becoming slits.

The Prithvi Highway, which links Kathmandu to Pokhara is notoriously narrow, bumpy, and scarred by landslides and floods. Monsoon season only serves to complicate travel on the highway, and as we witnessed along the way, buses do careen off the road into pits and valleys, and meet with trucks in head-on collisions, backing up the highway for hours.

Though the road is gnarled, and its travellers may seem to have a death wish, what you get to see outside your foggy, smeared window will take the breath you've been holding for the last few kilometres, away.

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