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No Beer til Pokhara

September 30, 2012

Though there were a couple beers here and there (none for me), for the most part we were a sober group on our trek, as it should be. We joked about how good the drinks would be when we finally completed the trek. And oh, how good they were.

First order of business though was a shower. Emma and I cleverly grabbed a couple Everest beers from the bar before heading to our room. We collapsed on our beds for a while barely able to move. Eventually we each made it into our first shower in a week and only our second hot shower in the two weeks we’d been here. It was amazing – and a bit scary to see how much dirt I’d collected along the way. I could only see for a minute though, since, my shower turn came just as Kathmandu experienced one of its many power cuts. I thought about waiting til it was over but I just carried on in the dark. I really needed to get clean.

As we started feeling human again, we decided to take a walk through town and very quickly met up with a clean-shaven and fresh-smelling Martin who joined us for a stroll through town. Pokhara is really a unique town. The main street is littered with trek shops and international themed bars and restaurants – German Bakery, Chinese Delight, Hamburgers, etc. People from all over the world converge in Pokhara coming to the beginning or from the end of a trek. Some folks also exuded a sort of hippie  “I came here for a trek and found my spiritual home, so I never left” feeling.  We wondered down to the lakeside and walked along it for a while before heading back to the hotel to meet the rest of our group for our trek celebration dinner. Chit had told us we would celebrate at the Himalayan Encounters office with a traditional Napali meal cooked by Harry, our trek chef, and joined by our assistant guides KB, KT, and Mali. Then we might have some disco dancing.

The HE offices are lovely with backyard spaces for private dinners. We passed another group clearly finishing there trek celebration and found our table in the back. The dinner was wonderful and highlighted by dal bat, a lentil dish which the porters ate every night on the the and we never got. It was delicious. Our guides actually served us rather than joined us, which was a bit disappointing. After dinner the table was moved and KB hung a small disco light on the wall. He and some other guides acted as djs playing loud disco music. The other group joined us and we learned they’d just returned from an Everest base camp trek. Eventually Gary and Adam led the charge and we were all up dancing. The Everest group hung back for a while as we pulled in our guides and Harry and the Everest crew to dance with us.

It all came crashing to an end about an hour later when there was a power cut and we all started singing Bohemian Rhapsody. Chit suggested a few bars in the area and we headed out to Bar Amsterdam. Along the way we came across three Nepali guys on a stoop with a guitar. Adam stuck up a conversation and eventually convinced them to play for us. The Nepali holding the guitar started playing Hey Jude and within seconds our groups was all joyfully singing along. A few rounds of Nah, nah na, nananaaaa, Hey Jude later the Everest guys wondered by. I said ” oh you just missed a great sing along!” “No we didn’t” came the reply “we heard it three blocks away.”  OK – so they’re way more hardcore trekkers than we, but way less fun!

Amsterdam had a sing out from promising “Great Music. Good Covers.” We settled into a table, ordered a round of beer and assessed the scene. The bar was like so, so many before it for me. A small stage for the local band, a pool table in the corner, sports on tv, and a weird guy sitting alone at the  end of the bar. But the crowd was all in trekking gear or gauzy skirts and were all ages and nationalities. The band came out and began the “good covers.” Some ACDC, U2, and Adele later we were all lagging a bit. The turning point came when they started playing Tom Petty’s Free Falling, a song we’d just been talking about. We decided we’d all stand at the chorus and stand we did. And sing we did. A couple more rounds of beer and we were all up dancing, even Martin and Emma, neither of whom would normally be seen dancing in a bar. We sang and danced and took a few breaks to catch up on our beers and talk about the ideal mate, silly jokes, and our trip to the mountain tops. Suddenly we’d changed from a group of strangers traveling together to a group of friends out for a night in the pub.

But it turns out that after seven days of intensive exercise paired with altitude and not great sleep, beer goes to your head pretty quickly. After the band retired for the evening and we made an attempt to take over the stage and perform in their stead, it was suggested that we go home in the most karma-appropiate way. One of the bartenders approached Adam as he tried to play the drum set with a couple of water bottles and said, “maybe you come back tomorrow.”

And with that, we headed home. Happy and drunk and celebrating the end of our trek like so many before us had, but still in a way that was completely our own.

 

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