With no festive build up is was hard to believe that Christmas was approaching. For us there was only one shop with a splash of the trappings that towns and villages are festooned with at home. The only turkeys that we see do not have to worry about Christmas platters. These live in Besishahar outside, and often in, a laundry shop (spot the turkey under the ironing table)!They always look very chilled!
Our good friend Sarah came to stay in December and we were amazed by goodies that she unpacked. Marmite (phew!), cocoa powder, a Christmas pudding, Christmas Cake and stuffing. Oh there were also parcels and 2 red stockings pulled from her luggage which would lie tantalising but untouched for a while. On December 20th the three of us set off to attempt the Annapurna Base Camp trek which Simon has described brilliantly in a previous blog. However there were a few special memories for me.
How amazingly trusting the Nepali people are. The father of this gorgeous young man was dealing with a tree that he had felled over the path. After helping us scramble over the precarious trunk, a long drop fell to the right, he asked if we could watch over his son on his way home. This gregarious lad was only 2 years old and the walk home was about 20 minutes along the mountain side path. He skipped, chattered and often tipped his head back and chortled with infectious laughter. He wore green wellies and was delighted by puddles where he splashed despite scary potential falls close by. We reached his cluster of houses where neighbours, and then his mother, were not in the least surprised by our chatty companion. What a charmer!
|Christmas Dinner on the way up.|
We passed, and were overtaken by, these chickens several times on the way! We were later amused by a huge sign prohibiting any meat products beyond. There was another enormous sign warning us that spitting was not allowed further up the mountain path. We had no problem obeying this instruction but it was obvious that the locals could not all control the deeply rooted habit!!
On the ascent we walked under the beautiful Machapuchre Mountain. We fell silent and continued in our own meditative moods. It wasn't until Simon and I conferred later that we realised that we had both felt very deep and powerful sensations. Our thoughts were with others. I remembered that a dear friend had talked about the Majesty of this mountain.
|Nearly there. Evening light on the majestic Machapuchre|
Christmas Eve was another day of spectacular glory both physically and emotionally. I was glad that we were a day ahead of schedule and the hard work of the final oxygen deprived climb used up similar energy to Christmas eve preparations at home! But no Brussel sprouts to prepare or presents to wrap here!! As we reached Annapurna Base Camp there was time for thoughts of family so far away but so close in mind.
|Thoughtful mood at Annapurna Base Camp|
The descent was understandably faster and easier on the heart but not knees! We passed several groups of merry souls each wishing us a Happy Christmas. My dream would have been to have all of our family with us but we had to wash that away with a luxuriant bath from natural hot springs. Those who know us well might not be surprised that we did dip into the cold flow first!
|Amazing relief for our aching muscles and a great Christmas bonus!|
A few days later, having left Sarah to carry on with her explorations, we were back in our home from home. More excitement to come!! Yes, those packages sent from home. Obviously practical and vitally necessary!!
|Santa soon stood on the top of our makeshift tree.|
|They know us so well. Sudoku, marmite, wine gums and chocs. Essentials.|
Other wonders included a family calendar, Clipper Tea, rugby anthems, healthy tinctures, potions and more. I hope to indulge in the enjoyment of guitar playing again and Simon keeps threatening to start drawing. Plenty of inspiration here. Best of all was the news that Jennie and Chris had booked tickets and would be with us for the New Year.
|Relaxing on a local trek|
Jennie was soon enjoying the enthusiasm of local children and attracted a crowd. We delighted in this little group who were flying plastic bags.
While Chris and Simon tried their hands (and heads) at carrying the loads that these slight and frail-looking ladies spend hours collecting and carrying home.
Jennie and Chris bought a large number of dokos. They turned a few eyes as they carried them up the street, Nepali style.
It was with a sad heart that we waved them off 2 weeks later. This marked an end of our first Christmas and New Year away from family and friends. We had certainly been through a roller coaster of emotions but there is plenty to keep us busy here in Lamjung and like these rays of light we will have many more things to amaze and enlighten us. Plenty more visits from family and friends as well.
WISHING YOU ALL A FULFILLING AND HAPPY 2015