November 5th, 2009: On the Eve of Annapurna Circuit

Whenever riding public buses in Nepal it always seems like a miracle when I actually arrive at my destination. These buses are crowded and ramshackle, extremely uncomfortable and terribly hectic. No one speaks English, and when you ask the driver if they’re headed to your destination they always say something that sounds like yes, but you never really know if they understand your question.

My arrival in Besi Shahar certainly felt like a miracle. This town is only 30 miles away from Pohkara, but it takes 5 long bumpy hours to get here. And so daytime turned to dark as we slogged along the broken road eastward. I was the last person left on the bus and nighttime was becoming increasingly lonesome and strange in the shadows of the back of the bus. The road was windy and terrible, it felt like the wheels were about to fly off the side of the road. But then miraculously, around 8 o’clock we arrived at Besi Shahar, the gateway to the Annapurna Circuit.

It was late. Too late to begin walking. I figured I’d spend the night in a hotel here and then begin in the morning. My stomach was pretty shaken up from the journey, but now that I’d arrived my belly and mind were becoming clearer by the minute. And I was hungry. So I stopped at a roadside hut and was devouring spicy samosa and masala tea. As I sat there, my thoughts were all swarming around the anxious realization that tomorrow I’ll be heading off on a month-long, 160-mile journey through the Himalayas. I don’t really know what to expect and I hope I’m prepared. There are nervous jitters, but given the circuit’s popularity I know it’s possible, accessible, and immensely rewarding.

Originally I was thinking that I’d find people to accompany me on the journey. However, since the day has drawn near and the spirit hasn’t presented companions, I am happily doing the journey on my own. No porter, no guide, no girlfriend, no friends. Just my compass and a map, a great book, journal, fully-loaded iPod, and an openness to the messages to be revealed.

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