“Why didn’t you come back to our house?” He asked confused.
Jenna and I looked at each other, “you know, I have no idea why.” I felt silly that the most obvious and safe place would have been to go back to Rina and Krishna’s house. “I can’t believe I didn’t think about that.”
“Oh well,” Jenna chimed in. “Let’s ditch this popsicle stand.” I can always count on Jenna to change the conversation to something lighter.
I smiled at Krishna and agreed with her. “Take us to the bus stop.” I said as I pointed to nowhere in particular.
We walked through the busy streets of Katmandu one final time. It was like I was seeing everything for the first time. Children were covered in dirt playing cricket in the streets with the biggest smiles I had ever seen. Piles of garbage reminded me of leaves covering the ground during fall back home in Canada. The sounds of horns were penetrating my core. I must have been in my head for some time because before I knew it, I was standing in front of a blue bus.
“We’re here.” Krishna said with a smile. He waved at a man standing in a blue and white striped shirt and khaki shorts. He had jet black hair with the ever so classic ‘bowl cut’ and dark brown skin. He smiled as he walked towards us. “Girls, this is JB. He is your guide for the Annapurna circuit.”
He lifted his hand and waved ‘hi.’
He didn’t have to open his mouth for me to know that it was going to be difficult to understand him. “Hi JB. Nice to meet you.” I said with a smile.
“Hi,” he responded with a slight bow to his head. He then handed us a stack of papers. “These are permit. Don’t worry, I take care of everything. We take bus. It leave in 30 min. I take your bags now.” He took back the stack of papers and we handed him our backpacks. It was such a liberating feeling to be free of that thing for a while.
As JB walked away with our backpacks we turned to say our goodbyes to Krishna. “Thank you so much for everything. You have made the start of our trip so incredible. I’m going to miss you.” I said with tears in my eyes.
“Thank you, Krishna. Look under my pillow when you get home. I left something for you and Rina.” I gave Jenna a perplexing look.
Krishna smiled, turned and walked away. “I think he is quite sad too.” Jenna said.
“What did you leave them?”
She winked at me. “Ok, I’m getting on the bus.”
“Wait, was it the other bottle of Maple Syrup from Dee’s farm in Ontario?”
“Oh geeze, that was supposed to be for us when we’re feeling homesick.”
“I got cha dude. No worries.”
Sometimes Jenna’s lack attitude makes my blood boil. “I’m going to go pee before I hop on the bus.”
I walked into the women’s side of the restroom. It was smelly with wet floors and 10 or so stalls. All the stalls were full so I needed to wait in line. A woman with a long yellow skirt followed me into the bathroom. Instead of her standing behind me in line, like I assumed she was going to do, she went to the middle of the bathroom, hiked up her long skirt, and pissed in the middle of the floor!!!
“What the f..?” My voice trailed off and my eyes nearly jumped out of my head. Thank goodness a stall opened up so I didn’t need to witness what was happening in the middle of the bathroom. Just as I closed the door to my stall, the women stood up, shook her butt for a moment, and walked out.
Back on the bus I couldn’t wait to tell Jenna what happened.
“Then she shook her ass and walked out of the door!”
“I know right. It was completely insane. If this is a view into what comes next, I am completely unprepared for this trip. Guess it’s time to let go of my expectations again, eh?”
“Oh yeah dude. Have no expectations. Trust me, it will make this whole trip way better.”
I sat down in a seat behind Jenna contemplating her words, ‘No expectations.’ I have huge expectations for everyone, everything and definitely myself. How am I going to let all of that go?
The bus driver and JB seemed to be in a deep conversation which spared me from talking anyone. The bus started up and began playing loud Nepali music that I was definitely not in the mood for. I put in my headphones and began listening to Bonobo – instantly better. I breathed a sigh of relief as the bus pulled out of the station. I watched the colourful shades of Kathmandu flirt with my eyes as we drove through the busy streets. Even though I had been there for less than a week it felt like I was a local, in a way. I have the ability to cross the chaotic streets better than most locals; I have an eye for the good restaurants and can navigate through the streets of the market with no problems. I was going to miss this place. Spending hours on a bus gives you time to contemplate life. I realized that not only did I only talk to Mason twice but I hadn’t even unrolled my yoga mat to meditate or practice. Guilt washed over me as I thought of my failure as a yoga instructor and as a partner.
“NOPE!” I yelled, jumping to my feet. “Not going down that rabbit hole.” My voice trailed off into a whisper when I realized I woke up half of the bus. I smiled awkwardly and slid back down into my seat. Jenna was still passed out in front of me, JB was chatting up the driver, but still there is no better time than the present to meditate. I changed my electronic music for songs I typically listen to for yoga Nidra. I closed my eyes, and instantly put my hands under the opposite arm pit. ‘Guess I’m doing Padadirasana’, I thought to myself.
In no time at all, my breathing had slowed and I could feel my lungs expanding symmetrically as softness fell over me in every way. A smiled appeared on my face and I placed my hands calmly on my lap. I thought to myself ‘It feels so good to be home’, as I drifted deep into bliss.
I’m not sure how long I was mediating for, but when I finally opened my eyes the landscape was completely different. The worn down and decrypted city was no more. Vast green fields ate up every inch of what I saw. Green tiered fields flowed like the pyramids and eventually the terrain was mountainous. Living in the Rockies for a little while in Calgary taught me how to appreciate the mountains and remain grounded in their strength when I felt like I was lost. These mountains were just the foothills of what was to come. I started to give into the anxiety of deciding to go on the trip in the first place. I was never one to get home sick, but every time I thought of my friends hanging out without me I got a serious case of FOMO (fear of missing out).
Jenna always has a wicked sense of timing. “You’re awake,” she said as she plopped herself down next to me. “Isn’t this view amazing? I wonder when we’re going to see the Annapurna peaks? I’m so stoked for this dude!! I still can’t believe we’re here and doing this.”
“Ha, I was actually just thinking about the same thing. Not with as much excitement as you though.”
“What? How can you not be excited about this? We’re trekking in Nepal. Well, we will be!” Are you ok? You look a little puffy.”
“Your mom looks puffy.”
“Nice. Seriously though, are you feeling ok?”
“I think so.” Achoo!!!! I sneezed all over Jenna. “Oh my God, that’s disgusting. I’m so sorry.” I said through bouts laughter. “You always know how to make me feel better.”
“Here to help dude.” She said, wiping her face.
The bus came to a stop and everyone started to move around. Reality hit me in the face, like my snot splattered Jenna’s. Horns were coming from every possible direction; people started to climb the outside of the bus, donkeys were all over the road and a dirty orange car was between the cliff and our bus! I could see JB’s blue and white shirt flinging about at the front of the bus-arms everywhere! I was trying to sort out what was happening – then it became clear.
I looked at Jenna eyes wide, “too many people are trying to pass this narrow spot on the road. It looks like we have a tire hanging off the cliff too.”
“WHAT? Are you freggin kidding me?” Jenna said. “We’re playing a game of chicken on the edge of a cliff with donkeys and another car?”
I started laughing because what was going on just clicked in my head. “Donkeys coming straight at us and our tire is no longer on the road, it’s really anyone’s game.” I managed out between laughs. “This is one situation I never thought I would find myself in.”
The man guiding the donkeys was standing in front trying to hold them away from the bus. The orange car on the left was going in the opposite direction scraping itself along the cliff and somehow, we were able to get all four tires on the road again. The car squeaked through and we were able to veer left just in time to not get run over by two dozen donkeys on a tight schedule.
“Crisis averted.” Jenna said as she sank down in her seat.
“Now that I’m stimulated from my near-death experience, I think it’s time to take out the sweet journal that Mason’s parents gave me as a gift.”
“Cool.” Jenna said as she did the same.
We spent another few hours writing, chatting and looking at the stunning scenery. It seemed like the seven hour bus ride was never ending. I was tired, wanted some food and hated being on the bus with so many people. At least I wasn’t nauseous. Time continued to pass like a snail attempting to trek across Canada. I couldn’t help myself.
“Are we there yet?” I said to Jenna resembling a toddler; half serious, half kidding.
JB stood at the front of the bus and headed towards us. “Hi. We stop soon at check in post. I have everything and will check in for you. You wait outside. Ok?”
“Yeah. Sounds great. Thanks JB.” He smiled and turned around and headed back to his seat. “Thank goodness we’re almost there. The few stops to empty my tiny tank did not suffice.” Jenna said with a menacing look.
The bus came to a stop and I saw JB stand up in his blue and white shirt. He waved at us and got off the bus. Jenna and I eventually made our way off the bus. The bus was a clown car, people just kept pouring out. We waited for our bags to be hauled off the roof. They eventually landed with a heavy thud and now, covered in a remarkable amount of dust I threw my bag on my back and sought out to find the big blue sign. It read Besisahar, Nepal, Tourist check in.
“I guess this is where we wait.” I said sarcastically.
“Ok, here we go.” JB said as he walked towards us. “I have all papers for you and will carry. No worry.”
“Awesome. I like the sounds of a no worry hike.” I said with a smile.