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|Last Kiss of Sunlight (standard:travel stories, 662 words)|
|Author: xcatrinx||Added: Mar 01 2007||Views/Reads: 2947/0||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|a western travelers perception of foreign lands|
I'm crammed between some super enthusiastic trekker and a cute little native with warm chocolate eyes who, unfortunately, cannot understand a word that I say, in a pre-war vehicle that I doubt will get us past the next McDonalds, let alone out of Kathmandu and into the first part of my adventure. In 16 hours I will attempt the hardest challenge of my life- all to raise money for charity. I am going to walk, climb, or crawl around the Pokhara circuit in the Annapurna region- renowned for superb views, charming quaint villages and sub-tropical valleys with dense lustrous foliage. Yet, all I can see is greasy takeaways and dirty children running through graphitised streets with the occasional tourist pointing at something really touristy shouting “Look!!! Look!!!” As we pull out of the town and into the vast emptiness that is the amazing Machhapuchhare skyline of towering mountains, I'm not the only person speechless. As the guide explains the history of how the locals leave tributes to the ‘gods in the sky' at the base of Ghorepani, the rest of us stare captivated at the enchanting view before us, somewhat terrified at the realisation of our aim. An aging Catholic man is the exception muttering idiotically about heathenism and how the missionaries cannot be doing a good enough job, offending our guide and the porters who, although only speaking basic English, know that he is being derogatory from his tone and patronising expression. Soon we are stopping due to the further lack of roads, and are greeted by good-natured children shouting “Namaste!” slipping small cool hands into our hot sweaty ones and singing tongue-tying, mind-bending folk songs. The girls wear cheap, colourful sarongs, ebony hair twisted into long trailing plaits or worn in loose, uncontrollable curls while the boys wear ragged, patched shorts. All wear outrageous bright baseball hats with commercial logos but none seem to need or want shoes on their hard brown feet. When we reach our first base we are handed out our regulation sludge green tents. A tall man who resembles someone I saw on Crimewatch before I left home yesterday stutters in coarse English, “s'long yoooooz looks after yoooooz stuvz, ve carry eeeet for yoooooz”. My fellow campers seem to find me a unique novelty, the group mascot. It would appear that I am the first ever camper to bring rose stilettos, fuchsia sleeping bag, Disney Princess nightie, sparkly toothbrush and lavender camouflage outfit making me a very visible target amongst the natural earthy tones. My only attempt at an explanation, that I look like an overstuffed teddy bear in normal dull khaki camouflage, and may discover a forest cocktail bar and need a cute outfit, is considered rather hysterical As we sit around the campfire that evening I feel decidedly pessimistic about this so-called adventure of mine, and the only thing keeping me going is the thought of returning home with no money for my charity. The satisfied smirks on the faces of everyone who doubted my ability to live for a fortnight without a hairdryer and mobile phone haunt my mind. Later my attempted tent construction went so badly that our guide offered to help, and I was practically laughed out of camp when I pulled my tent down again trying to escape from some native lizard. I was terrified by its malevolent stare and bejewelled skin, unfortunately seen as a messenger of the Gods by the Nepalese, this demanded an apology to “our esteeeeemed veeeesitor” on account for my offending behaviour. Sitting alongside fellow adventurers, drinking the sweet herbal tea that the porters have made from some shrubs and nettles, which tastes nicer than it sounds, I feel quite replenished and strangely relaxed by the foreign sounds of the wild forest canopy and distant gurgling river. I now feel prepared for tomorrows trek, and I am determined to reach the summit of Ghorepani to see the last rays of sunlight kiss the proud mountains. Tweet
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