The jeep ride back to Pokhara took forever.
The road, typical of developing infrastructure, was rocky, dirty, and pothole-filled. The huge 4×4 jeep, luckily, was prepared for these conditions But I, riding without a seatbelt on one of the jump-benches in the back, was not.
My stomach was also feeling a little iffy — although clearly not as poorly as the diplomat’s daughter’s, who we had ceded the front seat to without any argument — and the jolting and sloshing was not helping anything.
But, the same way a life goes by day by day, month by month, year by year…the ride passed: minute by minute, hour by hour, until we were back on familiar ground.
Every travel magazine, site, and company worth their salt has a “x best cities list.” While yes, some cities do generally feel a little better than others, the truth is… it’s all subjective. The city that steals one person’s heart may leave another with a stolen wallet, and the pair will return home with two very different tales to tell their friends of foreign hospitality.
So, with that in mind, here’s my ranked list of my 20 favorite cities in the world.
And as they say: I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list. Feel free to give me suggestions for cities you think I’d like in the comments!
When we say “Jeep” in the developing world, to be clear, we mean ”Jeep-like vehicle.” This can vary from high-end luxury passenger Jeep, to stripped-down ex-military vehicle, to active-duty military vehicle, to what was probably once a consumer vehicle, modified beyond all recognition until it looks like something from “Mad Max.”
The ‘Jeep’ we rode back to Pokhara in most clearly resembled the last type in that list. Every bit of paneling had been torn out, and benches had been installed in the trunk area. This converted a five-person vehicle to a ten-person vehicle. Which was good, because we were ten. No one, from the Nepali to the foreigners, was trying to pay for two Jeeps. Even split ten ways, this was a luxury.
But, sometimes, after a long struggle, you need a luxury.
The next morning I woke with a sense of sadness.
Today would see us out of the mountains, and back to Pokhara. Our time in this wilderness sanctuary was over. This idea was reinforced by our guides, who told us we could catch a jeep home after only a few hours walk. It felt weird to hear the words “jeep,” and consider riding in a car, when for the past ten days, we’d been on nothing but foot paths. I had kind of forgotten cars existed, up there in the steep mountains.
But modernity was beckoning.
“Wait until Jihnudana,” Ankit, the young porter, had told me again and again. “There, we dance.”
I had never thought that after nine days on the trail, walking miles and miles every day with a heavy load on my back, that I’d feel like dancing at the end of the day. But, come Jihnudanda, there I was, along with all my new friends: late night in the mountains, dancing and laughing until the neighbors told us to shut off the music.