Sunday, August 29, 2010

blue sky, green lake

I had arrived in Pokhara a sticky, sweaty mess coated in road grime. The sun was setting when Melissa and I parted ways. Melissa was off to the hills for a yoga retreat, while I planned on chilling out by Phewa Lake and doing a little hiking. Though I was exhausted and had developed a rattling cough from the previous weeks' pollution, I couldn't have been happier. As I lugged my bags in the direction of the lake, I felt like I was in the middle of some incredible dream. Green trees, green lake, green hills. Colourful saris, men in tans, black shiny water buffalo. I had finally seen the Himalaya on the bus ride in, and hoped they'd grace me with their presence in the morning. After asking for directions at a local bookstore and a couple of guys on the road, I eventually found my way to Peace Eye Guest House, highly recommended by Lonely Planet and well within my skimpy budget.  

The sun had left by the time I arrived at Peace Eye, and not having a reservation, I was nervous that the little guest house would be full— which as it turned out, it was. The owner, a kind-faced man named Chiran, must have felt sorry for the dirty, tired wire of a girl in front of him, and showed me to the last available room. It didn't have a bathroom and was very basic, but it was nice and clean— absolute heaven. I set down my bags and made a beeline for the shared shower room to feel human again.

Eventually I wandered down to the cafĂ©, which was a small, really cool outdoor space with if I remember correctly, a thatched roof. I plopped myself down at one of the tables with my sketchbook and flash light (the power had gone out), ordered a beer and some fried rice. A couple of the other guests were hanging out, reading by candle light. We nodded to each other and exchanged those knowing, traveller smiles. My Kathmandu cough was getting pretty bad— I couldn't go five minutes without feeling like I had pulled a muscle in my abdomen. Chiran thoughtfully brought me some lemon honey ginger tea to soothe it, along with a candle to draw by. I felt like the luckiest girl— I was surrounded by warm souls, I had my sketchbook and paints, a cup of hot tea, and I could feel the mountains of my childhood dreams behind me.

The morning light brought with it excitement— if there was light, there was sun, which meant there was a good possibility the mountains were visible in the blue sky. I climbed to the roof terrace and was astounded— Annapurna and Machhapuchhare, right there. One of the guests I had met the night before was standing in wonder, camera in hand. He had just completed the Annapurna circuit, and told me that this was the first time he had been able to see the mountains in a near-month spent in Nepal, despite trekking in their foothills. We decided to climb to the roof of the taller, next door building for a better look.

After a much needed cup of coffee and a chat with my new friend Olan, I headed out to walk as far as I felt like walking around the 4.43 km2 lake. The sun was burning hot, and saturated all the colours around me— everything was so vivid, bursting with life. I sang a little song in my head as I hiked along in the summer heat.

On the way back home I stopped for a light lunch at a Newari restaurant, where I devoured a delicious lentil patty topped with a fried egg called a wo. The wo was served with a tangy sauce that I suspect has mustard oil in it— I've been googling for recipes and hope to find one soon!

As I sat on the restaurant deck with a soothing post-wo tea, I pulled out my sketchbook and started to draw, immersed in a great wave of contentment.


Nick Krabbenhoeft said...

What camera are you using? It's capturing astounding colors.

szaza said...

I'm using a 7.2 megapixel Casio Exilim EX-Z750— pretty good for a little point and shoot. I do fiddle with the settings.

I'd like to upgrade to something I can really play with, with a higher resolution and a better ability to capture low-light situations.

Do you have any suggestions?

sarangkot said...

I love this post. I was born and grew up in Pokhara (learnt to swim in Phewa Tal!), and this captures it well. Thank you.

PS I have a Canon S90 which is excellent.

szaza said...

Thank you so much sarangkot!
Goodness, I can't imagine growing up in such a beautiful place. I loved Phewa Tal and Pokhara— there is a serenity there that really gets inside your soul. I miss it.

I'll look into your Canon— thank you!