Almost a year ago, I received a scholarship to assist the fabulous artist/scholar Nandita Dinesh and the EKTA Kashmiri theatre company to produce their film Chronicles form Kashmir. I was already crossing the world for that so I thought I should go to the Himalayas for a hike before starting to work. It was kind of a calling. My friend has gone there and ever since I heard about it, I felt I needed to go myself. I hiked to the Annapurna base camp for 21 days alone. It was an incredibly challenging and empowering journey. I promised friend Laura Epperson I would write letters for her about my experience. I finally have the time to transcribe them and translate them into Spanish. I’ll publish them one by one. Enjoy!
June 15, 2018
I don’t even know where to start. A couple of times in this journey I have asked myself which forces send me here, why? Among all the wealthy white hikers with tour guide and Sherpas, nobody looks like me, a third world hiker all by myself, and read as woman, not much money, less than 10 US a day. What brought me here? I felt the impulse, I did, something guided me here. But before starting to walk in the Himalayas to the Annapurna base camp I felt scared. I felt so scared that I couldn’t start right away. It’s raining so much. Can you believe it’s the monsoon season? Will I make it?
Arriving to Nayapul took me a 20 hours-long flight from D.C to Delhi with 6 hours of layover in Frankfurt; 6 hours of layover in Delhi, a 2 hours flight to Katmandu, a 30 min long taxi to the local bus station, 8 hours long bus to Pokhara and a 30 min long taxi to the Baglog bus station. I took a very scary bus there up the hill for 2 hours to Nayapul. Once again, nobody looked like me in those buses with mostly local men. Some laughed at me when the bus was like falling off the cliff. But weirdly, I felt safe. My main source of sadness and anger was that they always tried to take advantage of me changing the prices of the items and services. But how can I blame them?
I fear to eat. Food looks delicious but what if? I’m here alone. My biggest fear has been so lonely. Nobody speaks English. This is a monastic journey. A silence meditation. It’s low season, it’s monsoon, can you believe? The last time I went hiking was in Spain for the Camino de Santiago. I crossed the ocean to a place that speaks my own language and walked for 38 days non-stop. A lot has changed now. I am braver and more stubborn. Yes, maybe both.
I found an angel in the ride to Pokhara. He told me that he teaches English to the elders and kids. He understood what I was doing and saw my face of concern. He looked at me and told me that we could go together in the same taxi. I felt relieved but a little dubious. When we were at the taxi, he told me I could stay in an empty room that he had but he was afraid I wouldn’t like it. I thought, what if he hurts me? When I left the taxi, I realized that he made me pay for the whole trip instead of half of it, which we had agreed on doing. How can we trust in men? Should we?
I’m staying in a room full of spiders and there is nobody here. Silence. The hiking is hard. You go up and up in the mountains through stone-steps. I was full of sweat and rain. My breath was failing. But the landscape is so beautiful. It reminds me of the mountains of my country. It’s raining. I listen in silence.