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.
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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.