Wow! One year and 111 chapters later, I’m done with this project!! What a ride. Thanks everyone for coming along with me on this journey. I’ve appreciated each and every reader more than you can know. I’ll drop some more in-depth thoughts about the process and what’s next for me next week, but for now, just enjoy the closing chapter of this story.
And if you’re new here, I guess you can read the whole story now, start to finish, right here.
I awoke early on my final day in Nepal.
Some animal instinct warned me of impending change.
Sunlight was streaming onto my pallet-like bed in my room at the Annapurna Guesthouse. Dust shimmered in the sunbeam, leading the air an ethereal solidity. It looked like I could reach across the room and pluck the sunbeam straight out of the sky. It was a strangely beautiful sight.
Dust was inescapable in this city. Already, after only two days back in Kathmandu, my cough had come back. It would linger with me long after I returned home, a half-welcome reminder the damages wandering could inflict on a person.
“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.
The diplomat’s daughter smiled at me a bit too long.
She laughed a bit too loud and talked a bit too fast when I was around.
She was the only woman on this trek anywhere near my age — Sol and the rest of the masses had turned towards home after Poon Hill, while we worked over towards Suile, and the most beautiful moment of my life.
The German woman who had leaned into our conversation about Linjon turned out to be quite a character herself. As we kept chatting, I became fascinated with her life story. This happened quite frequently while you were traveling, I was beginning to understand.
She was a diplomat — attached to the ambassador’s office in Kathmandu. Her daughter, on break from university, had joined her for a few weeks of holiday in Nepal. Being able to tour around amazing places and new cultures was just one of the perks of working in the foreign service.
“Well, really the only perk, if your job is like mine,” the diplomat told me as we hit the trail again. “Unfortunately, I spend most of my time working, and very little time to enjoy the country. My boss, on the other hand, he loves to trek. He is in Mustang right now I think, trekking.”
“Walk in for thirteen days, look at a damaged monastery, write a check, hike out for thirteen days, and call it work?” I joked.
She laughed, a wheezy exhalation as we made our way up some steps. “How did you know?!”
We pushed through to the village of Upper Sinuwa, where we spent a cold and rainy night. I wrote a few questions to prepare for the interview I had scheduled when the trek ended, but mostly found myself in conversation. I exchanged stories with an older Canadian couple, the German mother and daughter, and a group of Koreans, who were trekking independently and looking for advice from our guides.
Koreans have a reputation as total outdoors nuts—huge hikers. I was interested in the group, since I had yet to meet any Koreans on my travels, but ultimately, I was a little too tired to get into it with them — especially as their English skills weren’t the best. I ate my dinner, had a pot of tea, and excused myself early.
I was probably in bed by 8 o’clock.