Well I was up bright and early at just gone 6 this morning so that I could say goodbye to Will. I'd hoped that I could give him a hug and wave him off on his way before crawling back into bed for another couple of hours' kip. However, I had not anticipated the change in the weather..
It was a clear blue day, the sun was shining and the clouds were few and far between - perfect for mountain spotting! As I'm sure I've mentioned before, it's hard to believe that I'm in the Himalayas because apart from the steep green hills that surround us, the near constant cloud cover means that we just don't see them. I'd been told by those in the know that there'd be very little chance of me seeing anything snow covered and pointy for the length of my stay.
Anyway, back to this morning. On seeing the clear sky I decided to walk with Will to the main road then stop off near the giant bodhi tree where I could get a better view. I threw on yesterday's clothes, left my shambolic mess of hair untethered, stuck my specs on, ignored my need for a wee and wondered out, thinking I'd be back in a few minutes to deal with my general appearance and bathroom urges. Nevertheless, after my first glimpse of Mahchapuchare through the buildings I wanted to get closer, so I called Debs, hailed a taxi and off we trundled to the top of nearby Sarangkot. The journey was short and packed full of lush vistas, bright colours and a man on a moped carrying about 20 live chickens from the handlebars. Before long we stood on the viewing point and took in the Annapurnas...
Some years ago, when teaching in Year 6, I used to enjoy our summer geography topic: Mountains. I made a canny purchase in the January sales of a mountain calendar and I stuck the pictures up all over the walls. One of these pictures was frequently overlooked in favour of Everest, Kilimanjaro and the Matterhorn; it was a picture of Machapuchare, or Fishtail Mountain. (I'd taken a snap of this picture a few weeks ago, and it's now the cover image for this blog entry!) I never would have imagined that years later I'd be standing on a cement block with a cup of very sweet tea staring said mountain in the face. As part of their geography work, year 6 would write poems about mountains and I'd encourage them to really go for it with the similes and metaphors. 'The mountain was as tall as a giant,' 'it towered proudly over the city,' 'the snow was a powdery blanket...' With all this good literacy behind me, surely I could come up with some fantastic figurative language to describe what I saw...
But I really couldn't. I had a lump in my throat and my eyes were swimming. The view was breathtaking and all I could do was sit and gawp. I took lots of pictures but none of them will do justice to the experience. I felt refreshed from the inside out and deeply grateful that I'd been able to make it to this country and encounter the natural world at its very finest. A true memory to cherish...
And I managed to do it all with crap hair, dirty clothes, embarrassing specs and a full bladder.