I was awoken after what seemed like three minutes.
Our guide had barged into our room. We were staying in a trekking lodge in Ulleri, also known as a “teahouse.” We’d been enjoying a well-earned nap after a tough first day of trekking. “Dinnertime,” our guide said cheerfully.
I shook the sleep from my eyes and glanced across the tiny room. My Malaysian trekking partner had apparently been taking a nap too, because he looked just as confused as I felt.
The stairs to Ulleri were never-ending.
We were off the dirt trail now, and climbing steep stone steps up, up, up. I had no idea who had made these stairs, or when; but whoever it was, they were clearly a sadist. Our guide remained silent on the topic, breathing steadily as we ascended slowly, slowly, towards our goal: the trekking lodges in the settlement of Ulleri.
I was trekking with two strangers into the remote mountains of Nepal.
My relationship, my job, and my life all hung up in the air—juggler’s balls abandoned to the whims of gravity—while I walked upwards, and away. The absurdity of the situation didn’t escape me. It seemed almost mythical, like something out of a movie. Walk into the mountains and return enlightened.
The Malaysian and I split the cab fare— $15 each, or so, which felt a little steep in Nepal. But seeing as the cabbie had just driven us for an hour and a half into the mountains, we weren’t really in any position to argue.
And considering one can drop $15 at Starbucks if they’re not careful, it seemed silly to be upset.
As I stepped out of the taxi, I couldn’t help but realize: here I am.
I was in the Himalayas.
I didn’t sleep well the night before my trek.
Anxiety kept me from falling asleep, and when I finally did fall asleep, I kept waking up with an irritated stomach—a physical manifestation of the anxiety I felt.