As my layover in Delhi drew to an end, I worked my way back to the gate. It had filled up significantly since I had last been here: full of hippies and fortune-seekers looking to find inner peace in the high mountain sanctuaries of Nepal. Backpackers, families, mountain climbers— these were my people. Still, the nervousness was starting to set in.
I didn’t have confirmed lodging in Kathmandu, and the flight was scheduled to get in around 11 p.m.
There would be no wandering the streets for me. I’d put in two online requests for a room and airport pickup, but by the time I got on the plane in Hong Kong, I had not received any confirmation. With no wifi available in the Delhi airport, I would be getting on the plane with no idea if there was anyone waiting for me.
I think, in the back of my mind, I had been holding out to go home. Some part of me never thought I’d need lodging in Nepal at all. This dilemma came back to me with full force as I sat waiting for the plane to arrive. It was almost an hour late, by the time it finally arrived. We boarded quickly, and took to the skies for a short, 1-hour hop to KTM. We would arrive around midnight.
I wish we had been flying during the day, so I could have seen the Himalaya from the window. I’m sure it would have been a magnificent sight. Instead, I settled for watching the little animated plane move across the topographic map, soaring over the brown and white wrinkles that signified the highest mountain range in the world.
I drank two beers to try and calm my nerves, but they didn’t do anything except make my eyelids feel a little heavier. My mind was racing at a speed too fast for alcohol to catch. My body, meanwhile, was about ready to give up the ghost. Besides some shaky sleep snatched on the flight to Delhi, I hadn’t slept in about 36 hours. If my ride didn’t show up, I might be awake for quite a few more, I thought.
I didn’t relish the thought of spending a night in the Kathmandu airport, but I certainly wasn’t going to wander the streets of a foreign city at 1 in the morning, looking for a guesthouse. Despite the insane situation I found myself in, I had more sense than to do that.
As our wheels touched down on Nepali soil, I closed my eyes and prayed that someone would be there to pick me up.