13th November 2011
Shake and Wake
At precisely 5.19am I was awoken suddenly by the earth moving, I swear I only had 1 drink last night. But no it had nothing to with that, as a few seconds later I got a text from Buddha asking if I felt the quake. Turns out it was a 5.0 earthquake that lasted 3sec and was felt all through Nepal. Thinking about the “construction”, to put it lightly, of the buildings in Nepal I fear anything stronger may just collapse the entire nation.
But that thought only lasted a few minutes as I rolled over and went back to sleep. After finally emerging and discovering that there was still no hot water I decided to check out and look for a new place. As I only had to be out by noon, I decided to pop down to Laksmi’s and have some tea and see if I had clean laundry, she had also suggested I move to a place just round the corner as her husband knew the owner.
I really like the Nepali tea, black or milk. It was great to sit and talk with Laksmi, and learn about her life. I showed her some photos of my travels and she was shocked to see the one of me teaching at a zoo holding a snake. My laundry wasn’t ready and wouldn’t be for a couple of hours but she called her husband to come and take me to the Nepal Guesthouse round the corner. While we waited we looked at the shirt I had bought the day before as I wanted an adjustment, but then we noticed it had some fading. Laksmi was very embarressed and offered to exchange it for any of the other shirts, I found a nice long sleeve black tunic style.
When Lamsal, her husband, showed up he took me to meet the owner of the hotel, it was literally 3min from their shop and home. Usually they would charge $15 for a room with a bathroom and tv (including the movie channel!!!). But for me, being friends with the family, they would charge me $10. Sounded good to me and I went to collect my stuff and check out of Hotel Miracle. When it came to pay the not surprising miracle was that they wanted to charge me $15 , but I insisted that I had been quoted $10, so I was able to check out at that price (even if they did use a high exchange rate). Settling in my new place my first step was to have a hot shower. Oh joyous joy of joys. Only fellow travelers who have missed a good shower for over a week will truly understand the sheer pleasure of hot water running through your hair and being able to suds up without the fear of it changing it frigid ice water. The wifi was still weak but I decided I may as well find a restaurant to work in anyway.
Jens was coming over to meet me so we could walk around Pokhara a bit and then later we were both invited to Laksmi’s for dinner, traditional dal-baht. While I waited I indulged in a Nepali delicacy, Mo’Mo’s. They are like dumplings or potstickers and are filled with veggies, chicken and or buffalo. Yup you heard me right, due to the large population of Hindu’s, cow is not on the menu, however the “tame” buffalo are free game and rather yummy. The waiter did warn me about the sauce, but having had it before I dug in without fear.
Note to Self, Believe the waiter. This was not the same sauce as I had already tasted and I nearly choked as a fire ball singed my esophagus and might have even gone up into my nasal cavity… Just as Jens walked round the corner.
The it was off to explore. There were so many things to see and buy and well I normally hate the very idea of shopping, give me a market where I can bargain and I am in Heaven. We stopped in at a local jewelry store and ended up sitting there for almost an hour having a fascinating conversation with the owner about stones, and semi precious rocks, and old jewelry vs new. It was truly interesting and it wasn’t as if he was trying to sell us stuff (although I am sure he would have loved it if we bought something, preferable the more expensive stuff. Something that was a surprise was that people found fossilized red coral in the mountains, indicating that the himalayas had at one point been under water. The mountains in Nepal and Tibet are a virtual treasure trove of goodies when it comes to stones and gems. As our shop owner told us in frustration, it is a great source of income for the country if only the government did something to control and organize the mining of this resource. As we left I purchased a small bracelet, known as a dragon bracelet. It has carving on the outside and an etched dragon for protection on the inside, made of tin silver. I bargained him down to 650 (about $8), but in the end he gave it to me for 600. A very nice guy and a shop I would return to in the future.
As I was almost out of cash we decided to head back, as the rain started we turned up an alley in search of a coffee shop. We found a small place run by two women. They were very sweet and the coffee was rather good. We sat and chatted with them and watched them weave.
We were lucky to find the place because barely 2 sips into our coffee the heavens opened. It was rather impressive actually and there were times when we worried the wind might take the roof off or the rain come through. Finally it stopped enough to pop out, Jens headed to his hotel on the North side and I headed to mine, planning to meet up for dinner at Laksmi’s. I spent the rest of the afternoon catching up with my diary and watching movies.
An hour or so before dinner time I headed over and helped Gaurab with his home work. He was so excited to have my help and to show me his science project, a well like contraption.
Laksmi and Lamsal have another lad who essentially lives with him. I never got his name correct, for the life of me I just couldn’t say it right. At a young age he lost his mother and his father beat him so badly that he broke his arm and he hid in the forest. Laksmi and Lamsal took him on as a shop boy. He is 12 (1 yr older than Gaurab), and spends his days working in the butcher with Lamsal, he comes home for lunch then relieves Lamsal, the same routine for dinner. They can’t afford to send him to school, and he definately has that street wise kid attitude, much to the annoyance of Gaurab. I took a shine to him and could tell he was very bright. Even though he spoke almost no English and my Nepali was non existent we still managed to get a decent amount of communication, most of it teasing each other. A great kid and I take my hat off to Lamsal and Laksmi for caring for him.
Together they taught me a game that reminded me of pool. The difference being that it was on a board and you used your fingers to flick the tokens at each other. Rather painful until you get the hang of it. Just as each of them beat me thoroughly, Jens walked in and so he had a go too.
Finally it was dinner time and I must say it is some of the best food I have ever tasted. Dal Baht also known as Thakali is rice with a soup and various pickles or curries. I had tried it before but it was always too hot. Laksmi is an expert cook and I couldn’t stop eating, it was so yummy. Tasting even better because we were using our hands.
A very good evening, now time for a good night sleep and hoping the sun will come out tomorrow…… 🙂