Kailash Pilgrimage Journal - Day 5
en route to Kirmi
The Karnali is the color of elephant hide, a churning river that looks fully capable of cutting the gorge it flows through; of cutting it another thousand feet. I climb past a high stone cliff braided with waterfalls, all of them sluicing down from invisible heights to join the mighty Karnali, which receives their ablutions with a wrinkle.
Past Kirmi, to Sali ("Pine") Kola
My God, it has felt like a long, torturous day. My legs are like wood; my lungs, even at this comparably low altitude, seem ill-nourished. And my daypack, ludicrously small and uncomfortable for the weight I must carry, leaves stripes of sweated salt on the back of my green T-shirt. My face is sunburned, and I have a mild headache. Mountains loom on the far side of the Karnali, their black peaks -- about 15,000' high -- laced with snow. A gigantic eagle, or possibly a vulture, startled me by swooping low overhead, its pterodactyl wings creaking like the struts of a Kitty Hawk flying machine. I feel bone weary, out of shape, and as lonely as I've ever felt.
Strange days -- bring them to the path.
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Some people met along the way: the schoolteacher Ramraj; the lovely elderly couple on the way to Dharapuri, ancient Thakuris who let me take their photo. The man gave me the warmest blessing when I left.
I try to talk with almost everyone I meet. I can answer their most basic questions, but that's about it for my Nepali. As for the children -- except for a brother and sister I met today, who showed me their colored pencils and tried to give me sweets -- the dialogue is fairly predictable: "Namasté!" "You give me one pen!"
The most difficult encounter is still with Ingeborge -- who I now feel must be mentally unstable -- and Norbu, whose utter disregard for his other client (me) is beyond inexcusable.
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Published on 5/27/03