"The strange thing is that after three days passed we hadn't felt as though we
needed a shower..."
Well we're back! Thank Buddha! After showering thoroughly, shaving off three weeks of
stubble, putting on clean clothes, and sleeping on a mattress, we felt great! The strange
thing is that after three days passed we hadn't felt as though we needed a shower, 22 days
of dirt put cleanliness into a whole new perspective. During our week back, we spent our
time eating, touring, and of course, writing and editing our stories. We met Aaron
Morrison (and yes, if you are wondering his dad's name is Jim), Josh's traveling buddy,
visited a Tibetan Refugee Camp, got to be friendly with a few locals, and looked for the
best momos (a meat or veggie dumpling similar to a potsticker) in town.
Aaron, who is from Duluth and met Josh at St. Olaf College in Northfield Minnesota, had
been off with the Swedes trekking when we met Josh. (Were not sure if they have
names because every time they come up in conversation they are just called "the
Swedes", come to think of it, since we never actually met them, were not sure that
they really exist at all). An avid outdoorsman, Aaron spent the last winter living in a
cabin in Northern Minnesota that had an out house (western version of a squatter) and no
electricity or running water, which we think prepared him quite thoroughly for Nepal.
Aaron did the same Everest trek as us, but in about half the time that we took. Aaron was
quite anxious about leaving for his next trek. During our conversations with Josh, we
decide to go with him and Aaron for another trek to the Annapurna Region, the most popular
trekking area here in Nepal.
Josh and his sister Debbie were hell bent on finding the best quality handmade carpet
they could find in Katmandu. This is what led us to the Tibetan Refugee Carpet Center.
Anxious to take a break from our hours in front of the computer at the Cybermatha internet
Café otherwise known as the k@mandu Café, we were more then willing to go along. The
carpet center is a multi-storied warehouse where they have turned handmade Tibetan carpet
making into a small production business to help support a Tibetan Community that lives in
the area. The first floor contains about 20-30 looms with men and women from 15-80 years
old, weaving intricate patterns while sitting on the floor. The second floor served as a
storage/sales floor containing hundreds of carpets in all different colors, sizes, and
prices. in the building adjacent to the warehouse there were about 30 women spinning yarn
from wool, by hand, on old-fashioned spinning wheels and claiming to have, "only 100%
pure Tibetan wool."
During our trek in the Everest region we discovered momos and were instantly addicted.
Momos can be served deep fried or steamed (our personal favorite). They can consist of
potato, potato curry, cheese, vegetables, vegetable curry or meats of unknown origins. At
first we were very wary about eating meat momos but after 22 days of rice and vegetables
we were craving protein.
Josh had been raving about a great local momo dive that was about a 20 minute walk from
Thamel, but again after 22 days of walking it seemed a bit far. Jeff had read about a
great local momo dive in the Lonely Planet book, called Dolma Momo Center, only a few
minutes away from where we were standing. Mike, being sick of momos altogether, decided to
return to the Swoniga to eat a ham and cheese sandwich. The momos were fair going down but
repulsive on the way back up. Josh and Jeff both suffered fevers and Jeff vomited into the
late hours of the night. Josh kept his down but later that week was forced into a round of
the antibiotic - Ciprofloxacin, which is used for curing intestinal bacterial infections.
A few days later, feeling ready to continue on The Hunt for Momo, we went to Josh's
favorite momo dive, The Everest Momo. it is located in a part of Katmandu called Naxal; we
were the only westerners within blocks. We were thoroughly satisfied with the mystery meat
momo that was delicately saturated in an equally mystifying yet mouth-watering sauce! At
14 rupees a plate (about 25 cents) we felt that the Hunt for Momo was over!
in Nepal many of the simple luxuries that we are used to in the USA are non-existent.
You have to pay by the minute anytime you want to send an e-mail, fax, use a computer, or
even make a phone call. (No one has a personal phone line in their house, and we haven't
seen a pay phone anywhere!) To accommodate the thousands of tourists staying in Katmandu
on almost every corner are communications centers, shops that contain a few computers, a
telephone and a fax machine. They have been opened up in the past few years. it was on our
communication center search for cheap internet use that we met Neela. Neela is the sister
of Arun who owns a few communication centers in Katmandu. On one of our first nights in
Katmandu, we foolishly stumbled into the shop where she was working and without inquiring
the rate for internet use, we sat down for an hour and half of typing. At the end of our
time we found out we owed her over 2000 rupees. it was the start of a beautiful
friendship! Even though we now come to the Cybermatha to do our emailing (3.78 rupees a
minute as opposed to 7) we still try to visit Neela almost everyday. We spent an afternoon
with her buzzing around Thamel and talked about the possibility of her teaching Mike how
to play the sitar. She invited us to her home for a typical Nepali style dinner when we
return from india.
On the night we returned from our Everest trek, starved for western food and culture,
we went to a local brew-and-view, which is a one-room restaurant with a TV and VCR in the
corner. We watched "There's Something About Mary," and all through the movie we
could hear live music coming from the place next door. As it had been a month since Mike
had played live music in a band he forced Jeff into the seedy "Boogie-Woogie"
bar. it was there that Mike found Shree. Shree is a 21 year old guy from Pokahara. He is
the oldest son in a family of three kids, which in Nepal means he gets the family money
(and apparently doesn't have to work). Consequently, when he finished school he devoted
his life to music. (sound familiar?) Since that night, Mike and Shree have been meeting
nightly at the Boogie-Woogie and other various bars to perform. Shree is an amazing guitar
player, he knows about every popular western band and song including Semisonic (a new band
emerging from Minneapolis). He told stories of when he was learning to play guitar he
would soak his hands in hot water, which he claimed allowed him to move his fingers more
quickly. it seems to have worked! in January, he is planning on traveling through Europe,
playing music and living with friends he has met here in Nepal.