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?!”
The common room in Suile was cramped; just two communal tables, wedged up to walls of windows. The only solid wall in the building was covered in a giant photograph of Lhasa, the capital of nearby Tibet. In Pokhara and the Annapurna mountains, Tibetan culture and refugees are a common sight. I wondered if the owners of the guesthouse were Tibetan.
After a long afternoon of trekking, we finally reached our destination: the settlement of Suile.
To call Suile a “village” would be a little misleading, as it seemed to be no more than a number of farms perched on a hill, with, as far as I could tell, only a singular trekking lodge. Most people, Anker said, either stopped earlier in the day, or stretched on to the major village of Chhomrong.
After 11 hours of trekking, I was happy Anker wasn’t making us stretch on. If he’d told me stopping a few hours earlier was an option, I might have lost the will to keep on. The final steps into Suile had been pure torture. In the end though, I’m glad Anker hadn’t suggested either option, because Suile ended up being a place I will remember for the rest of my life.
I awoke late. My restless night hadn’t afforded me much chance for good sleep, so when I’d finally drifted off to sleep, mortified, I hadn’t wanted to wake up.
A perfect sunbeam from the bedside window hit me square in the face, and my memory of last night came rushing back to me. It was far too vivid to have been a dream. I opened my eyes and glanced out the window.
It was an amazing bluebird morning, only small wisps of clouds to be seen. The sky was an almost ethereal blue color: so perfect it almost didn’t seem real. Behind the nearby mountains, a huge snow-capped peak showed its face. I sat up and stared in wonder. Although only a tiny portion was visible, the mountain looked like nothing I’d ever seen before.
That’s what I came here for, I thought.