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Last Kiss of Sunlight (standard:travel stories, 662 words)
Author: xcatrinxAdded: Mar 01 2007Views/Reads: 3158/0Story 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!!! 

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 


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