One year ago I stumbled out of my plane after 30 hours of sleepless travel to the airport in Kathmandu. I remember how I had to take a tram from the plane to departure area, and how it looked more like a military base than an airport. As I filled out my VISA the immigration officials gave me completely contradictory information, and when I couldn’t find my pen in my haze one of them tried to get me to pay him for his. One official told me I could only stay 90 days… the other assured me that I could stay as long as I wanted. I was confused.
As I exited the airport, there was Amy waiting for her mail delivered by some stranger from Michigan. I was disoriented and confused as a dozen taxi drivers converged on me and I could barely communicate with the poor girl. I hastily said goodbye to her and looked for my driver. As I found my name plate, some random guy tried to take my luggage from me who I thought was with the driver so I let him. He wasn’t and immediately asked me for a $20 tip afterwards. As I sat in the car waiting for the other passenger to arrive, I could smell the strong stench of diesel. It was slowly raining but I had to get the window open for a chance at fresh air.
Finally my co-passenger arrived and took off down the bumpy roads of Kathmandu. A few flash images still stick in my mind: cows walking and sleeping roadside, a man sleeping under a tree in the middle of the road, shady-looking, drunk Nepalis walking the streets of Thamel, my co-passenger David asking me: “So you’ve never been in the third world before.” We arrived at our guesthouse but I could not sleep that night. I was too jet-lagged and anxious from all the crazy things I had seen the night before.
It has been one hell of a year of adventures. I pray there are many more still awaiting me in the coming years.