next morning, Andy and I met early to go on the Everest flight.
Rob had told us it was worthwhile, but I suspected he just
wanted to get rid of Andy for a while so he could get some
sleep. So we left Rob in dreamland. We went downstairs and
the hotel doorman (yes, there was one and he was a real character
who saluted us every time we passed) said he would get us
a cab, and led us out onto the narrow winding street. A couple
of new looking taxis passed, beeping to see if we wanted to
hire them. But he led us a little way down the street to an
old, beat-up Toyota that had its left rear axel up on a jack.
Two guys were just tightening on the wheel. Off the jack it
came and we negotiated a price and got in the back. "You
have your ticket, right?" I asked, offhandedly. Panic
crossed Andy's face. "No!" he said, jumping out
of the taxi and racing back to their room, which of course
did wake Rob. And then we were off.
To say that the taxi
had some things wrong with it was an understatement. It was
kind of a shuddery, bumpy ride even on smooth pavement. But
there wasn't so much traffic at that hour, about 6:30 in the
morning. We got to the airport in plenty of time, and the
driver refused to take our money, saying he would wait for
us. Strange, we thought, but OK, maybe it is that difficult
to get fares with all the competition.
The flight was delayed
so we sat around the little domestic airport, watching it
fill up with tourists wearing expensive and fashionable trekking
gear going on flights like us, and a few Nepalis going on
flights to other places in the country. There were big windows
facing the runway outside, and above them was a square hole.
There was a monkey that seemed to live outside and it would
climb up and sit there, in the hole, where it could watch
the people in the waiting room.
Cosmic flight attendant
we did get on our flight, which was a small twin prop plane
holding maybe 20 passengers, with one row of seats on each
side of the aisle. The stewardess came down the aisle with
a tray with hard candies on one side and cotton balls on the
other. Some people used the cotton in their ears. It was interesting
to see Kathmandu from the air, with its morning haze of cooking
After the Everest
flight, we returned to the city and met up with Rob. We negotiated
a fare and took a long and harrowing taxi ride to Bhaktipur,
a historic city just beyond the most far flung reaches of
the Kathmandu sprawl. There was peacefulness to the city,
and a timeless beauty, which were a welcome change from Kathmandu.
Many old buildings of brick and carved wood lined the streets,
and even the new ones were built in a harmonious style. We
meandered, ending up at the Durbar Square with its impressive
and well restored temples.
A surprising amount
of daily life happens on the streets, in public, we found
as we wandered. There are public water faucets periodically,
and you would see women there washing their clothes or dishes.
Women gathered on street corners, crouching or sitting together,
talking and making handcrafts.
One man sat on a
stool on the sidewalk, and his wife hovered over him, shaving
him. There was a row of houses in the sun with some women
in front winnowing grain, maybe rice or millet. Everywhere
you could hear people inside, tapping on bracelets they were
making or doing other work. And some of the women carried
loads of rocks or gravel to a construction site in conical
baskets on their backs held with a tump line around their
foreheads. Industrious people, seemingly comfortable with
their lives, but not wealthy by our standards. We had lunch
by a school, and the sounds of the kids playing exuded irrepressible
enthusiasm. And I was impressed there, as I had been in the
Khathmandu Durbar Square, as how much the temples were visited
by the local people. Not necessarily for worship, either.
The school children climbed on the temples when they were
released from the school yard, and people of all ages gathered
there to talk and sit. The temples were part of their daily
lives; they grew up on them.
The next day
travelogue is part of the subside