my body is exhausted. i just walked off a homemade 30-seater Indian bus filled with no less than 60 nepali people on the inside. at least 20 fearless nepali men rode on the top, enjoying fresh air and holding on for dear life. from my seat, the smell ranges from old cheetos to sour milk throughout the ride - either from me or from villagers going to town who normally live with no running water and no electricity. i train my ears to enjoy the offbeat techno hindi music blaring through speakers probably made for a tape recorder. two times throughout this 11-hour ride i seriously question if i'll survive. this is risky. my last trip to nepali villages found me on a rickety crop duster with lawn chairs for seats flying to the plains of nepal: no off-road bus rides teetering 2 feet from cliffs that look like old landslides. at the beginning, i asked to sit on the widow side to see the amazing view but after 4 or 5 hours ascending into the himalyas, i realized my stomach worked better sitting on the inside, unaware of how close the bursting bus was to the edge. but we made it. the fearless, teenage and somewhat bored bus drivers make this drive sometimes 2 times a day.
thanks to a good friend, I got a gig shooting multimedia for an NGO run by two young women who educate villagers on basic medical procedures. i lived in close quarters, in a one-room, wooden, tibetan-style house with my traditional Tamang family in the Thuman village near the Lang Tang mountains. we drank milk chai every morning that tasted like licking a goat's backside and it took my eyes a couple of days to stop burning from the smoke from the open fire in the room. i ate rice for every meal and at this point vomiting doesn't sound far off if i think of eating curried veggies and milk chai any time soon. i "hiked" 6 hours uphill (close to vertical) to get there and it was a 2 hour run downhill to get back. the only other time ive ever been pushed so hard physically was coach andrew's soccer practice, my freshman year of high school. i took on the village custom and i didn't shower for the 8 days i was there. it was cold anyway.
the mountains are an incredible place to live. never have i felt so uncomfortably enamored. after the rough trek to my village, i suddenly understood the fascination with living such a hard life-stlye in exchange for the breath taking sunrises every morning with 360 degrees of white peaked himalayas wrapping around me. in the valley below, rocks that look like boiled potatoes sprout up through the raging river and if it's really quiet, i can hear the water below and fields of wheat move together in the wind. and although i love looking at the mountains, and i definintely enjoyed my mountain experience, i've learned that the mountains are not for me. i discovered my wimpery when i was out of breath every time i left our little house for anything. the only horizontal place in this village is in the houses, thank god. i kept trying to justify my out of breathness; "I don't have these leg muscles. I grew up in a place where for exercise, we surf or run on the ellipticals at the gym." i cursed all those times i ignored the stair masters at the gym.