Friday, November 2, 2007

And now...another continent!

I made it to Kathmandu!!!!!!!! What an adventure getting here. In four nights I only slept once, did a whirlwind tour of London in two days, and flew somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 miles!

After leaving San Jose I spent Monday night in JFK international before flying to London. I arrived Tuesday night, checked into my hostel and then wandered the streets of Kensington aimlessly for about two hours. It was one hell of a shock going from Central American cities to a ritzy neighborhood in London! And, DAMN is London expensive. I only ate one meal out, walked everywhere, went to free museums and still spent the equivalent of 10 days budget in Central America in just over 48 hours. Despite the cost London was really great. I went to the V&A, the Natural History Museum, and a tour of the city on Tuesday. Then my friend Beth and I (thanks for the tour Beth!) hit a couple of pubs so I could have some proper English Ale, and a great dinner. i had forgotten just how much I missed really good food and wine until that meal! Then after a restless night of drunken sleep I hit the streets of London one more time visiting the British Museum and the Tate Modern. Then it was back to my hostel to collect my things and head to Heathrow. I left my hostel three and a half hours before my flight, in order to give myself a bit of a buffer on the Underground. Thank God I did that, there was some sort of delay and instead of arriving two and a half hours early like I though I would I made it 45 min before my flight. I rushed through check in and security and then to the gate just in time! Phew! It was a close one!

The flights were uneventful and I arrived jet-lagged and exhausted at 7:00 p.m. last night. I then had to deal with getting a visa, which took over an hour, getting my bag, and trying to figure out where to stay. Stepping out of the airport I was immediately assaulted by a vicious hord of taxi drivers who began pulling me in all directions. I fought them off and sat down, recognizing that I really needed a few minutes to collect myself. Again, the sleep deprivation was killing me, and I did not want to do anything stupid. after sitting for about ten minutes and being constantly harassed (I practiced swearing at them in Spanish while smiling), I negotiated a ride with guy for three dollars. He took me to his car where he and two friends jumped in, though I had no worries at this point in time. They drove me to my destination, and that was when things got interesting. We all got out of the car and I collected my bag from the trunk. Then when I turned to pay him he asked for about five times the agreed upon price. I said no and told him we had agreed on 200 rupees. I tried handing them to him but he kept pushing it back at me and asking for more money. After about 30 seconds of this I realized that he and his friends had completely surrounded me, and were pushing me up against the trunk of the car. Yikes! OK, stay calm I thought. Looking around I was scared to find that there was no one else on the street. I am too tired to deal with being mugged I thought and if these assholes take my pack then I am really screwed. I calmly tried one final time to hand him the money. When he did not take it I dropped it on the trunk of the car, dropped my shoulder into his chest, and gave him a shove to clear myself a path. I calmly walked away as they shouted curses (or so I assume) in Nepalese. What a shitty way to start a new country. Despite that and the lack of sleep (for some reason only two hours last night despite my exhaustion) I am happy to be here and am excited to get my permits and get on the trail! I do not feel like my first experience is going to be representative of the population as a whole (they were clearly drunk) and the people who I have met since then have been very warm.

With any luck I will be starting my trek next Wednesday. Don't expect any posts for a while, I don't think I will be finding any internet cafes along the way. Wish me luck (my fat ass is going to need it to get up Thorong La)!

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