between the Nakvak and the Korok: an expedition to the Torngat mountains. Hiking through the Valley of the cirques, climbing Mont d'Iberville, fishing in the Nakvak Valley, Canada, Torngat Mountains, northern Québec, trek, Nakvak, Korok, icefield, caribou trail, summit, travelogue, trip, travel, hike


Cyle Rickshaw


Saturday, November 22

I was awakened at about 5:25 AM by an earth tremor. The hotel was shaking, everything inside and outside was shaking, and there was a loud rumbling sound outside. People started yelling. Is that an earthquake, I asked myself. Yes. Should I get out of here? Then it stopped. So I didn't get up.

At 7:45 we had breakfast together, Rob, Andy, and I. Andy thought we should change our plans and try to leave that day to avoid the possibility of future earthquakes. Rob was afraid that any change of plans might result in our losing the seats we had reserved. Ailsa, the co-owner of the hotel, called the airlines and discussed it with them. She advised us to keep the reservations we had.

Later we gathered the trekking gear we had borrowed from Krishna and headed for the shop. We left it there and returned later, hoping to catch all 3 of them there. Only Krishna and Lila were there. We gave them some money to show our appreciation, thanking them for doing such a good job with our trek. I gave Lila a bandana as an extra thank you gesture for having shouldered my big pack.

Later, Rob and I went to find another orphanage/school/clinic that he thought might be worth donating to. I had asked Ailsa that morning if she knew where the orphanage was that Rob had seen when he and Kay had stayed there 2 years before. She knew it, and said it was gone, like a lot of scam orphanages. She explained how they somehow got the kids and set up an orphanage in the tourist part of town (very pricey real estate) and got tourist contributions. Then they got rid of the kids and disappeared. If you want to do charity work in Nepal, Ailsa advised, do it on the personal level. But Ailsa also said this orphanage/school/clinic might be worth investigating because it had been there for quite some time and was doing good work.

The high point of my day was calling Susan. I hadn't called her since London. It was a delight to hear her voice and exchange words with her and connect with home. Home. How far away it seemed.

I took the afternoon for myself to go adventuring. I started at the Pokhara Kitchen, a working people's eatery on the fringe of the tourist section. According to one author, they served the best dahl bat in Nepal. And I would rate the lentil soup as the best I had eaten, but otherwise it was not impressive. However, the lunch cost me only 50 rupees. At 74 rupees to the dollar, quite a bargain.

I had gotten vague directions to the business center of town, called Mindapul, where Nepalis shop. I walked along the road until a small bus came, a local bus that cost 8 rupees and was packed with people, not even standing room. But they squeezed me in, and several others along the way. Of course, when we stopped, people had to get off, and they were located at the back of the bus. It was an interesting experience. There were virtually no westerners in sight. There was a bazaar of sorts, mostly selling foodstuffs. There were shops lining the streets, and so I started going from one to the next. When I found something I liked, I would bargain for it. Often the shopkeepers spoke some English, and I got a chance to use some of my minimal Nepali vocabulary.

There were a lot of fabric shops selling material for saris and such. I found only a few pieces in each of several shops, and ended up with a variety of fabrics in my backpack. They were from India or Pakistan, not Nepal. I bought a broom, a one handed broom that is universally used in Nepal with a bent over posture. I found a lock like the ones that they use at guesthouses and a handmade cooking pot at a hardware store. I didn't find any yak bells, which I was hoping to give to Kay and Rob back in London as a wedding present. But it was an interesting experience trying to explain what I was looking for to people who spoke no English. I do a good yak imitation.

It was a great experience to get away from the comfort and complacency of the tourist zone and see how the Nepalis shopped and ate and socialized, and to soak in the sights and smells and sounds. I had been to all of the basic kinds of stores that interested me. I walked some streets looking for something different, being careful not to lose my bearings, but found nothing. After sitting with a Fanta lemon people watching for a while, I caught the bus back to lakeside.

I met Rob on the street and we went to a handmade paper store where I bought some little calendars with woodcuts of Hindu symbols and deities. After resting and reading and showering, the three of us went out to dinner. Rob and Andy had a lively but friendly dinner discussion and we lingered at the table long after the food was eaten. Throughout the journey, I found the political discussions between Rob and Andy fascinating. They both were intelligent and articulate and had many opposing views, but to me one of the most interesting aspects was to witness them examining issues from their English point of view. For example, Andy explained one reason why Tony Blair should not have aligned the UK with the US in the second Iraq war: "The UK doesn't really see itself as part of Europe. Instead it is sort of between Europe and the US. We have a choice. And to me, it would be better to align ourselves with Europe, which is on the way up, than with the US, which is on the way down." Rob believed that conversation was an important aspect of meals, and that evening was a feast in every regard. Everything felt right with the world, for whatever reason. Andy put his arm around his dad as we walked back to the Nirvana. They might argue politics, but I had the feeling they always would be closer after this journey.

The next day

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