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.
We stumbled into Chhomrong exhausted, with our thighs burning.
We had just descended what felt like a thousand steep steps. My knees were creaking; Saffron was leaning on my trekking poles while gasping; Anker was sweaty but whistling cheerily. “We stop here,” he said, as we walked into Chhomrong.
Chhomrong was the biggest village we’d encountered since we left Ghorepani. You could probably even go so far as to call Chhomrong a town—at least by mountain standards.
In life, we remember moments.
We may spend long hours at our work, in the library studying for school, or pouring over our computers. But these are not the things we remember when we look back on our lives. All of that drudgery fades with time, and we are left with only a few, golden moments. A relationship that is stressful and ugly becomes, in memory: a flash of a her smile; a moonlit night under under the stars in a deep mountain canyon; a shooting star; his unexpected ‘I love you.’ These are what stick, not the long, shut-down stretches of black, or the quiet evenings spent in your own head.
Suile holds the most beautiful moment of my life.
Long after the rest of the journey, the rest of the relationship, the rest of the emotions have faded from my memory, I will remember this moment. I will remember it, in crystal clear detail, until the day I die.