I had delicious things planned for today’s post, but given the recent earthquake in Nepal, I wanted to share some deep thoughts instead. I wasn’t going to, but I can’t stop thinking about it, and I thought maybe writing about it would help. Often times we see so many natural disasters, both at home and in lands far away that in some ways, we become immune. I’m guilty of it, we all are, but once in a while these disasters hit a little closer to home, sometimes closer than ones that happen in my own, tornado-alley backyard.
Such was this. I was there. One year ago- last May- RIGHT THERE. I woke up yesterday morning to the news and went about my day without digging deeper, but I couldn’t shake it from my mind. That’s sort of what happens when disaster strikes that part of the world. News comes through about plane crashes in Lukla, the little town at the base of the Himalayas where all Base Camp Treks start, and I feel a little pang inside. I was there. I flew in that plane. I trekked those mountains. Pang.
I went antiquing with Tomato, my trekking partner for both Everest and Annapurna, and she mentioned how she tried to contact one of our guides from last year to see if he was okay and, by the time we got home, she had received a Facebook alert saying that he was (did you know Facebook had alerts like that? Pretty cool). I signed onto Facebook to see a post from a family member looking for a loved one who had just set out to hike the Annapurna circuit, and if anyone had any news, to please contact her. Pang. Annapurna circuit. That was me, last year. That could have been us, last year. Pang.
My day went on and soon enough I found myself with some couch time, so I started clicking links to images and stories from Kathmandu. Before I had made it through the first page, I was crying. Tears streaming down my face of the buildings, the people, the structures thousands of years old now merely a pile of rocks.
I’ve been lucky enough to have been to Nepal twice in the past five years but each time after I left, I never really felt that strong a connection to it, not like I have for other places I’ve visited anyway (despite the fact that I’m pretty sure that someone on my dad’s family tree hails from that area- Kathmandu was teeming with his look-alikes, I swear). It was just another place, just another trip, another adventure, when in reality, that’s never been the case at all. They were the two trips that, it turns out, have touched me the most and the ones that, though not freshest in my mind, stand out. They weren’t the most glamorous, and after least year, definitely not the most fun, but they taught me the most about myself and the world at large. Nepal is the country that opened my eyes. I guess that’s bound to happen when standing at the top of the world.
I guess deep down somewhere I always knew that they were more. It’s not often that I return to a destination (save London or Paris or Munich), but something about that country, those people, those mountains drew me back. The people that I met there along the way, whether or not I know their name, or whether or not they remember me, they are part of me, I guess the way that any travel or strangers do become. I guess it just took a horrific disaster to help me realize that.
So, my PSA for today, if you can donate to the aid efforts over there, please do so. A little goes along way, and the Intrepid Foundation will match dollar for dollar. And knowing everyone I’ve met there, I know you wouldn’t find a more appreciative bunch of people.
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