Walked to the post office. You might have seen the video. Got there and it wasn’t open until 11. It was worth it just for the walk.
Nepal doesn’t accept credit cards, so our driver met us outside our hotel and Dilli, our guide for the day took us to exchange our US $ for rupees. You wouldn’t believe the fat stack of Nepali bills that ten $20 bills becomes. Whoa.
Met up with a couple friends that I have kept in touch with over the 2 years since I have been here. Krishna, who I build a website with about a year ago, but had never met until yesterday, welcomed me into his office for a a quick visit. He is newly married so I brought he and his wife a token of Seattle smoked salmon. Novel if nothing else for residents of a land-locked country.
Headed to Boudhanath to take in the largest Buddhist temple in the country. It wowed me just as much the second time. Mary Beth bought a string of giant prayer flags and wrote each of our families’ names on them. Then the keeper of the flags mounted the temple, climbing the golden steps to the top and hung the long strand from the top of the temple and fastened it down to the northwest corner to let the flags wave in the wind. Fabulous. My favorite incense billowed out of an oven as we watched the motion of the crowd flow clockwise around the temple.
DJ Tenzing treated us to lunch at a Sherpa restaurant in Boudha. I mentioned that we were going to volunteer at Solonasa school in Tapting and he said, “That’s where I went to school”. Naturally I remembered this, since he is AC’s cousin and I knew they grew up in the same village. He wants to come help us volunteer. I encouraged him to come, but the one plane that is going there tomorrow only seats 17 and it’s clear full. We knocked it around for a minute before we let the idea go. More time needed to plan.
Dilli and Mary Beth went with the driver to the next temple. I went by motorcycle through the streets of Kathmandu to Swayambhunath. But first we stopped at DJ’s home. I met his wife, who graciously served us Coke while DJ signed a CD for MaryBeth and I. Then back on the bike. It was thrilling weaving between huge buses, pedestrians with baskets on their heads and cows. Yes, sacred cows occasionally find themselves resting in the middle of the thoroughfare right before rush hour. No one moves them, no one swears at them or shakes their fist. They are sacred and they know it. Everyone just goes around.
Swayambhunath, also known as Monkey Temple sits on top of a hill overlooking Kathmandu. It is a fabulous place for sunset views of the entire city. Steppe eagles also ride the currents and roost in the trees below the gold-crested temple. I spun each of the brass prayer wheels as I circumnavigated the center temple. What a beautiful and peaceful place. Monkeys and dogs mingled at the feet of visitors. Monks wandered through the open spaces. Prayer wheels squeaked and hissed as they spun in the waning light.
We headed back to the hotel and passed the same two cows in the middle of the road. Mary Beth named them Frick and Frack just because.
Dinner was at the Garden restaurant again. Funny thing about eating at the same place twice: you realize what you ate the night before. Mutton lungs aren’t that bad. Buffalo blood sausage I could pass on. And the chicken tikka was to die for. All with my favorite red and green chili sauces, of course. On the way home Mary Beth noted how everyone who greets us with “Namaste” does so with genuine sincerity. Not at all like our greeting: “How ya doing?” I likened it to the “bark less” sticker. Say it less, mean it more.
Tomorrow we fly out of Kathmandu to Phaplu. Two days later we’ll be in Tapting. No internet, probably no electricity for superfluous things like my laptop, so this may be the last post for several days. (Maybe read this one twice?) Volunteering is up next. Lots is likely to change before the next post. Namaste.