May 9th 1984

posted in: The way back | 0
Val and the weaving women

We were awoken this morning by the sound of rain hammering on the roof.  It certainly didn’t provide an incentive to get up, so we lay there for a time, warm + snug, + listened to it.  The weather is not conforming to its predicted seasonal pattern: fine in the morning, clouding over by about lunchtime, raining around 2 or 3.  We can cope with that – we think – by setting off very early + sitting out the afternoon rain in a cosy guest-house, then early to bed, early to rise + round we go again.  However, it eased, + then ceased, so after some tea we were off.

The first section of the day, to Dunche Bazaar, was pretty easy – no violent gradients up or down to cope with.  Just before Dunche we had to pay our entrance fee into the park – Langtang National Park – then at Dunche itself have our permits checked.  This was a slightly tricky moment, tho’ not thro’ any fault of our own.  The immigration dept at Pokhara had re-validated our permits, but hadn’t altered the list of places we were allowed to go.  So, properly speaking, we should only be allowed to trek in the region north of Pokhara.  We had noticed the discrepancy only after taking the bus out to Trisuli, so we were praying we would get let thro’.  And, somehow or other, we were.  The official was very thorough, + read each + every word on the permit, out loud, carefully.  Yet the connection of sound to meaning was somehow missing.  After an age he duly stamped them, handed them back, + off we went.

We stopped for breakfast in Dunche.  We were hungry by now, + besides, as Dunche was a bigger place, we thought it likely they would be able to offer more variety.  In truth, I did get a plate of fried egg + chips, but they were sorry-looking examples.  I would have done better to do as Val did, eat local, a bowl of potato curry.  We changed one of our big bills at the bank there (tho’ Val had to struggle to be given the right amount), + then set off for Barku, 2 hrs walk away.  The weather looked a little threatening, so we did consider stopping at Dunche to see what it would do, but our desire to push on overcame our caution, + on we went.  Sure enough, just as soon as we were far enough down the trail for turning back not to be a feasible proposition, down came the rain.  In force.  We coped as best we could by me taking Val’s pack, considerably more waterproof than the other, + wearing the heavy cagoule we had hired, while Val + the other pack double-bagged themselves inside our own 2 flimsy ponchos.  It wasn’t satisfactory – one either gets soaked from without or within – but at least it enabled us to carry on.  Unfortunately, the trail was much more difficult in this section.  First, there was a steep dog-legged drop to the river, then climbing + skirting around the hillside, then a long steep climb up thro’ a sodden river gorge.  If the conditions had been better, this last part would have been enjoyable, I think – the gorge was lush, green, beautiful.  The quality of the trail was certainly nothing like as good as the one north of Pokhara, a consequence, I suppose, of not being anything like as busy.  Plus, of not being used by donkeys.  At times, the path would seem to be clinging desperately to the mountain-side, + ourselves along with it, with a sheer drop just a footstep away.

At the top of the hill, we ran into problems of a different kind, when we ran into the road-works again.  Specifically, we ran into the teams of men + boys working on the road, an independent + unpleasant bunch.  Val wanted to take a photo of the man setting the dynamite, but this was vetoed, harshly + unpleasantly, by his supervisor.  Or self-appointed supervisor.  This, I suppose, was their prerogative, but they were abominably rude, + refused to offer any help, with 1 or 2 exceptions.  I felt under the same pressure as when I was a teacher, something I had hoped to escape forever.

However, half an hour more brought us into Barku, dripping wet + in dire need of sustenance.  The were 3 other English in the village’s only lodge, 2 guys + a girl, but unfortunately we weren’t to have their company for long, as they shortly got up to move off the way we had come, towards Dunche.  The girl told us we still had plenty of time to get to Syabru, the next village, some 3 hours away (now it was about 1), + thereby shorten what would otherwise be a horrendously long day tomorrow, but we had already decided we had had it for the day.  2 hours of walking in the rain was quite enough.  It was just our luck, of course, that an hour later, when it was too late to change our minds, the clouds should roll away, + leave a dry, cool afternoon. 

Our immediate requirement was sustenance.  This we obtained with small packets of biscuits – Glucose, universal fare, the one commodity that every store stocks – + sweet tea.  This was not thro’ choice,  They make, at regular intervals throughout the day, enormous pots of tea, ready milked, ready sweetened, the leaves themselves strained out so that it doesn’t stew.  I thought it tasted wonderful – Val was not so keen.  During the remainder of the afternoon, we slipped out to the back yard to escape the smoke from the fire as well as the flies.  There were flies out the back too, of course, but somehow they didn’t seem so bad.  There were a couple of old women, squatting down in the dirt on the terrace below us, winding some yarn around pegs hammered into the ground, as a preparation for some weaving, so Val went down to take a closer look.  I stayed up above, + took photos.

More craft-work

The evening meal was good.  Val had noodles, I had dhal bhat, tho’ we both added an egg for a little protein (and cholesterol too, I suppose, tho’ one can only die once.)  Then bed.  It took me ages to get off to sleep, as I discovered how the village got its name, a dog howling his head off at the moon for the first part of the night.

A ggod day, with interesting variety during the day, and a decent place to stay in the evening, with very satisfactory food.

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