And she said losing love
Is like a window in your heart
Everybody sees you’re blown apart
—Paul Simon, “Graceland”
I had a woman in Medellin. Or maybe she had me.
That’s ok. That’s how things go when you’re on the road. Backpacker hostels: young, vibrant, full of energy and alcohol and interesting new people. It’s almost bound to happen — if you’re the type of person to go in for that sort of stuff. Or even if you’re not.
After all, you can be anyone on the road.
Except if you’re actively publishing a memoir of emotional devastation.
Three years ago to the day, I almost died.
As strange as it may sound, I tend to forget about this event until the Super Bowl rolls around. For those of you who haven’t almost died, it probably seems like the sort of experience which would dominate your life.
When I got out of the hospital though, I just wanted to move on as quickly as possible.
[this is a serial feature. Read the previous entry here, or start at the beginning here. Thanks!]
The next day I resolved to escape Thamel.
I awoke with a sore throat and a cough — a common traveler’s affliction in Kathmandu.
The past two days had been exhausting; and without a trek to take, my motivation to go back and tangle with the shopkeepers and hustlers was low.
I strolled over to Himalayan Java, where I again purchased the big breakfast and two coffees. I brought along my computer and researched treks. Remembering the woman I had met in Himalayan Java yesterday, I expanded my search to include the Annapurna treks.
The streets of Thamel were even more menacing by night.
The shoppers, for the most part, had retreated to their guesthouses and hostels, but the touts and drug dealers remained.
With the reduced foot traffic, this made me a much more attractive target. A young male, traveling alone, I must have looked like a golden goose to these shady figures. With the coming of night, the offers had gotten a little more adventurous, too.
“Black tar, brother?”
“Cocaine, my friend?”
“Women? Young girls? Good price.”
You don’t need to go through passport control when you just have a layover in a foreign country, so I never technically entered India.
After you’ve seen enough of them, all airports kind of start to look the same. Same bones: check-in, security, passport control/immigration, customs, a pickup area bustling with taxis and touts… by the time I showed up in India, after five months of travel, I was thoroughly unimpressed with airports.