Scribbles from 9 Months Ago

19 Jun
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Yes, there is a cow scratching its head on a downed tree… in the street.

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I began this journey — “my one year escape from the real world,” if you will — on September 4, 2012 with a one-way solo plane ticket to Kathmandu, Nepal. That was only nine months ago, and I’m already doing that thing you do a decade later. You know, the “What was I thinking?! Geez, I was so young and dumb. How did I ever survive.”

I just found a scribbled note from those early days. It made me laugh and dusted me with a light coat of wonder. Maybe it’ll do the same for you.

“9/9/2012

Observations from Kathmandu

Problems in my life right now:

  • No visa for this country. I could go to jail.
  • Brushed my teeth with tap water this AM. Creepy shit is swimming around in my gut.

People pee in the street.

Internet is very slow, goes off sometimes. Cannot stream YouTube video in all of Nepal, too slow.

Rubble on the streets.

Coffee with our landlord. He brought us coffee. Then he bought us some kind of chicken salad sandwiches. Then chocolate cake. Then some kind of shortbread soaked in syrup. I ate it all with great appreciation. Especially since he was dressed in rags. 5 minutes we sit there, have 20 second conversation, watch dog fight, look at guy selling stuff, then 5 mins sit there.

Stray dogs.

Rubble in the streets. Feel like I am in sarajevo.

Bumpy roads: next time, note to self: wear sports bra, full-body airbag, and back brace.

Problems in my life right now:

  • Need SIM card. I have no phone
  • roads here… all this crap on the road
  • I am the tallest and fattest person all up in here country”

This trip down memory lane reminds me that I never shared the story of how I entered Nepal without a visa. If you’ll indulge me…

I had been in Nepal for several days when I discovered that I had no visa and was in the country illegally. I was attempting to get a SIM card for my cell phone at the corner garage-door-shack convenience shop. We got through all the business where I told the shop owner my father’s name and profession (yes, it’s a government requirement to get a SIM card, apparently). Another government requirement: possession of a valid visa. The shop owner flipped through my passport 5 times before declaring, “Visa! No! No! Visa!” Shit.

I took my passport back and ran away. I was a criminal! In this strange, dirty ass country!

I went home and googled the Government of Nepal Ministry of Immigration. When the page loaded 4 hours later, I found this helpful information (the entirety of info on visas):

VISA

To grant or not to grant visa is the right of Nepal Government:

a) All powers to grant or not to grant visa to any foreigner shall be vested in Nepal Government.

b) Nepal Government May allow to enter into Nepal to the citizen of any friendly country with out visa on the basis of reciprocity.

I decided to visit the Ministry of Immigration. I perused the website for an address:

“Location : The Ministry of Immigration is located at Kalikasthan, Dillibazar, Kathmandu.”

Mother frickin’ tangelo. I enlisted my dear roommate, Rosie. It took us no fewer than 1 tuk tuk, 3 public buses, and 2 hours to get there.

I don’t remember what exactly went on at the Ministry of Immigration. I do remember that it did not result in me getting a visa, but it did result in the suggestion by someone there that I return to the airport.

So we… went to the airport, where Rachael distracted the lone security guard at the exit while I ran past. The Kathmandu airport is two levels and two rooms: one room on the top and one room on the bottom. Arrivals were on the top room. I took one look at the ancient, sketchy elevator before ruling it out. The only option was to run, full speed, UP the DOWN escalator. So I did.

The escalator.

The escalator.

And then I snuck past the immigration officials and got in the arrivals line as if I’d just stepped foot off a plane. And I got a visa and was so happy that I took 3 pictures to make sure the moment was properly recorded.

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3 Responses to “Scribbles from 9 Months Ago”

  1. vp June 19, 2013 at 7:29 pm #

    Really. For the love of broccoli, what WERE you thinking? Huh? I’m an old person (as you often characterize me) and that video gave me scary, lonely, I-want-to-go-home culture shock. You musta blanked out on judgment for awhile back then.

  2. Brigid June 20, 2013 at 10:03 am #

    Agreed with VP!

  3. Kelsie June 20, 2013 at 11:15 am #

    Brave you, adventurous you!

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