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held captive by Nepal

Okay.  So….clearly….I haven’t written in a very long time.

There have been a lot of external factors.  But I won’t make excuses.

The problem is that there was a beautiful orange-Nepal-shaped-jewel blocking my mind.  It’s gorgeous and shockingly unaware of it’s own beauty and it’s perched at the spot where normally words would gush from.  It’s just there, seemingly harmless, glinting in the sunlight every so often.  And in a fairly Gollum-like way I’m mesmerised and robbed of the words to do it justice (“my precioussss”).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA However, it’s now over 6 months since I wrote anything and tonight, the evening of the 15th April there is a full, low, orange moon*. I’m going to grab onto some of it’s magic and force Nepal out of the safe warmth of my brain and onto paper (blog) before my mind implodes.  Would be a shame to keep it all to myself.  Besides, it could get messy (I’m thinking Pulp Fiction messy.  Yes I’m a drama queen.  Kinda.)

You see, normally when I visit a place and especially if it is for the first time, I plunge in and totally immerse myself.  I roll up every shutter, open the blinds and pull back all the curtains separating body from outside world.  And then….everything just comes rushing in.  I sink the smells to the bottom of my lungs, listen out for every tiny little sound of a place and tune into all its echoes, stare unashamedly at people (tells you more about a place), and soak up the newness of the sights curving around each day.  It’s easy to write when you’re so open.  When you notice that you’re noticing.

Nepal was different.  I was looking after a merry band of Essex & Herts Air Ambulance Trekkers.  25 of them.  27 including the Doc and the Tour Guide.  Okay so those two were looking after me rather than the other way around.  In all truth everyone looked after each other.  But I was the Charity Rep, so had a certain amount of responsibility.  Don’t get me wrong.  I still had an amazing time.  But I couldn’t indulge myself in the way that I normally would when I travel.  I had to pay attention to things.  Check everyone made it through the airport okay.  Try to keep everyone happy.  Keep an eye out for tired stragglers, toilet-stop options, naughty-sun-cream-avoiders, mountainside trip-hazards, long unending donkey-trains, occasional unpredictable personality-clashes, anti-bacterial hand gel requirements and don’t-miss-the-moment photo opportunities. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA So before I get to the Nepal I want to talk about, I have to sweep a lot of other stuff out of the way and clamber up a long non-negotiable stone staircase.  We went up enough of those in the Himalayas, for me to know it will be worth it.  The issue is that I know there won’t be a wide, sweeping, all encompassing view at the top.  And it feels like there should be.  After a ten days in a country.

Its funny how you remember things: the days are fading, but Nepal has crystalised as snap shots in my head.  Actually, maybe less snap shots (that sounds too precise and scientific).  More perfectly formed, slightly upside down reflections, as they’d be if each one was encapsulated in a clear drop of rain.

I see dried flowers strung across footpaths towards teeny temples, stunning against a bright blue sky, even when faded by the dry sun.  I land on airstrips surrounded by mountains and cracked earth, dotted with small white, purple, aqua-green, blue, orange, red origami houses which look like they’d be blown over with a whisper.  I’m looking through the square concrete window of a rustically made shower, as the sun sinks into steam, shadowy mountains and deep green rice paddy fields.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I’m next to the lake in Pokhara as paragliders dot around the snow caps and Nepali ladies dip their washing into the water’s edge just down from where long wooden kayaks back-and-forth to the Stupa.   I smell the dust, incense and busy-ness of Kathmandu.  I’m surprised by telegraph wires so tangled you can’t imagine how they ever got that way, balanced waywardly above you in the city’s streets.  I’m impressed that billboard posters have been looked-over in favour of political bunting: each street given-up to a different party representative for tomorrow’s elections. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I taste the most delicious ginger tea made (simply, with ginger root, spices and hot water) by a lady who’s face is as brown and wise as tree bark and whose house is almost tippling off precariously balanced stilts: we hadn’t realised the table we had stopped to sit at was hers, but this is the Nepali way and rather than admonishing us she makes us feel like family.  I’m sat again with my back to the temple’s prayer wheels which are heavily turning towards stillness, and there are the two soil-stained girls in over-sized clothes playing with a pair of gloves, one each; now they have a pair each; I wonder if they sorted out who got the new ones?   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I hug a friend who has remembered his Dad in the quiet flutter of a butterfly’s wings.   I bite again into the stem of young yellow-green sugar cane tossed to me by a family who are chewing, slurping and sucking their own pieces: try the pure moist, goodness for myself and think how it’s all the sweeter for no-one else knowing. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I have tired limbs and bare eyelashes and I wait for the glow of the suns warmth as it creeps across dark mountain tops and peeps over Poon Hill, eventually reaching us through sips of coffee from tin mugs.   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA My spirits rise high as the golden eagle soaring over our final campsite and my feet stay rooted next to the red red rose at my feet.  I grin at monkeys swinging above the waterfall, and catch my breath as I see how the streams of water hide purple flowers and flirt with rainbows.   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I’m in the middle of an incredible, humbling, 360 degree view you could never never capture on camera, and my eyes dance with delicate multi-cloured prayer flags.  And I try to remember that I should hold courage closer.   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA *It seems tonight’s massive orangey (bloody orangey?) moon could be down to a lunar eclipse and something to do with Mars.  Apparently it was best seen from the Americas, but it was suspicious looking here too tonight, if you ask me.  Most especially over Cottered, Rushden and Walkern, as I drove to my little (crooked) house (more about this later I’m sure) in Buntingford.  Seems to have done the trick for me and my Nepal-sparkly-jewel-shaped-bloggers-block anyway.

Talking about getting things going the way they should be going, maybe my sister will have her baby tonight too??  We’ve been waiting since Monday. Now if this happens imminently I will claim it was thanks to me.

Rather than Mars.  Or the moon. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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