New Again

This may seem crazy, but I’m doing it again. As much as I love newness and discovery and change, I am going back to find the familiar. I could spend time in Tokyo or Bangkok or Marrakesh – oh, I want to see Morocco so badly – but I am going back to Nepal instead. In ten days I’ll be on a plane across the Pacific, this time all alone. I’ll pass through the best time machine I know – the Date Line, and end up in the future. It will be tomorrow where I am, compared to most of you. It will also be 12 hours of time difference, so I’ll be upside down for a couple days. But I have plans to meet up with friends, some familiar, family-like folks (that I lived with on the Everest Highway for a month), and some who are dear to me, but I have never met in person before. And I’ll spend a couple days at the end volunteering with a medical/health unit in Kathmandu to help locals who don’t have access to care. Because I can. It is so very true that you go to Nepal for the mountains, and go back for the people. So I am doing that. Don’t think I won’t see the mountains, too, though. I was thinking about whether I have traveled internationally alone before. I don’t think so. Maybe. Does flight-only to Mexico count? Does running around Paris for three days with a ten-year old count?

You may be wondering about the documentary movie I was hired to make… I was originally going to Nepal this fall to make a documentary about a Sherpa in a small village, but the American team that hired me couldn’t pull together the funds, so that’s not happening. Thanks to everyone who donated to the Kickstarter we ran. Much appreciation and gratitude to you!

Everest Highway

Me and Mt Everest (center with the cloud stream), Ama Dablum, beauty on the right, and Tabuche on the left.

It’s funny all the visions you have when you’re making plans like this. I don’t have an itinerary aside from my flights. I have several very kind invitations to visit my friends and their families in their villages and homes, and offers to show me around the less touristy areas of Kathmandu. I’ll be arriving at the beginning of their five-day New Year festival, so I hope to capture some of that in photos and stories. I may see elephants and rhinos again. Ha, again. Maybe I’ll even see a rare wild Bengal tiger this time. Last time we missed one by four days. It passed though the elephant sanctuary just before we got there. See, you would do it too, as spoiled as you would feel.

Connecting with a female Asian elephant in Chitwan National Park.

Ten days left. There’s a lot to detach from when you run a household, work a freelance job and are about to launch a company (more on that later), so I have been wrapping up ends, employing my dear local community to help with family when I’m gone. Just today I am able to think about all the things I will miss in the three weeks I’ll be gone. On return, after the first time I went, so many moms looked at me like I was an alien. “How can you just leave all that?” There is so much to set down, from doctors appointments and special diets, to football games and academic awards, to something I haven’t anticipated yet. During my first trip my youngest, then five, lost his first tooth on the baseball field during a game, for which he received much attention, and they called him “Erik the Tooth” for the rest of the season. Mama hearts hate to miss those moments. This time I’m leaving on my oldest’s sweet 16th birthday – which is also his golden birthday. Yeah, I’m horrible! You have to understand that flights only go into Kathmandu on certain days of the week (generally Wednesday and Saturday from the US), and if I didn’t leave that day, I was doing 59 hours of flight instead of 25, and missing a celebration I really want to see in Kathmandu. You can see every hurdle as a wall or as an opportunity. I have apologized, planned birthday parties, and sent in surrogates to get him to the DMV so he gets his driver’s license. I’m missing Halloween too. No costume making this year. There will be other things I miss in my regular life while I am gone, but if the FOMO is keeping you home, think of what you are missing everywhere else. I was supposed to go back to Nepal last October, and it fell through. I missed it for a year. You have to miss something. That’s basically what my husband said when I was debating booking the flights. I’m so glad he gets it. He’s been to Asia twice on his own since I have.

Nepal calls me. You can understand it or not, but I’m going. Look for photos and stories here, power and wifi permitting.

Save the Himalaya (from Global Warming) Concert Tour reunion with some of my favorite musicians.