He shakes his head. It means yes. We attach two boats each on two taxis it seems ok then it’s gone! Honk, brake, boost, horn, brake, kick starter, horn, blow stress! Boris sat in the back of the other taxi is so close we could shake hands. Arrive at the bus station, unloading ships. “Bahrabise, Bahrabise, Bahrabise, Bahrabise!” Two nepalese guys armed with small trucks try to communicate with me who am a bit lost in all this mess of vehicles. What do they want? In fact it is right on the bus to our destination! Hugo and Leo go up on the roof, we pass them the boats and bags they start strapping, the driver wave us and starts up, the boys still on the roof … Boris and I get on the back of the bus, each quietly on a seat, but we must regroup quickly as the bus fills up over the stops “Bahrabise, Bahrabise, Bahrabise.” The back of the bus bounces every bump, every 100 m. We stay in the air for a moment, then our butts fall heavily on the seat, quite hard. My left leg over the middle of the hallway supports a Nepali. A little old lady sitting behind cling to my chest at each turn and I’m concentrating on watching the road. It spins! At each stop kids ride to sell us stuff. They are all around me: “Chips? Water? Badam?”. Boris mocks me with another Nepali. Or is it the Nepalese that mocks Boris??
The bus roof
On the bus roof I hang my boat.
On the bus roof I put my bag
On the bus roof, sitting in bull
Ten other rise and we settle.
On the bus roof I grab not to drop or push the child next to me. I see the river we will go down and the mountains that surround us. I feel like coming back from a very long journey.
A young girl withdraws her hand screaming. In the bag of donuts something moves. Aunt takes the donut clip and catch it by the tail. The women laugh them knowingly. Rat, moth-eaten, ratty calamity. He struggle like a snake. The lady takes a big pliers and grabs the rat abdomen. “She’s gonna smash the little mouse” think the white man. She release the tail and grips the neck of the rat with the donut clip. “She’ll wring his neck!” She release it into the gutter. He leaves nimbly to attack the wall, but she constantly refers it in the gutter. Finally the rat gives up. He understood … They understood each other.
The Bhote Kosi
The first, which will keep a special place in my heart. Mixture of common things (kayak, waves, rocks, jump rolls) and new rapids. Unthinkable scenery, swarms of bees hanging from the cliffs overhanging terraced hills getting lost in the fog.
We run down the river in beautiful long rapids, looking at what awaits us at the next break, if it looks good we go casually. But the river is a playing dude, she wants to give us the best and the fat rapid is never far away.
It begins with a disappearance. Water eludes our gaze. One of us will look at the edge. It continues with a sign. We all need to go and see. The group returns four individual people. Hugo advance ahead. Leo take out quietly and empty his kayak. I’ll see the other side of the river. Boris waits, hoping that it passes. The beginning is engaging, always. On my bank, I am careful where I walk among the debris of stones. Then there is a large block on which I climb. And the rapid unfolds in its entirety. Start a little stirring , then a little small playing passage and a big scary waterfall. My friends are gathered in front of another block. They speak less, they look each other making signs toward the passage. The water runs strong. River laugh heartily facing intimidated men. They will carry their kayaks for a few hundred meters. 25 kg on their shoulder, on unstable rocks over rapids full of traps, that will get them at their place.
He wants to see. See typical things. See images of postcards. Then it must send some. His weapon is his camera. It holds his reminds. A directory named Nepal, in a my pictures folder.
Nepali New Year
The noise of a procession awakes us at six. Armed groups of percussion, bells and whistles converge to Basantapur, the royal city. Some are dressed in the same costume, others do not. I get out of bed and walk to the temples. There is a happy human flood that advance in music and get lost in the expanse of the city. Some time later, the crowd resumes its march in the other direction. Most are on trucks that are decorated chariots to play music on old sizzling sound systems or improvised orchestras. And it is dancing, and it is screaming… It’s too much chug! Boris and I do want more, we put on our orange T-shirt, put a waterproof bag on our heads and join the parade! We start dancing and making bloubloubloublou, people laugh at our disguises. We are taken with them in the band.We continue to dance and greet the people who make the party away from the streets we knew. Band with whom we are make a hell of noise and does not stop dancing and chanting choruses. Boris is like a mad fury dancing elephant style. Then we are faced with a door enclosing the street. At the entrance, women are making the tikka, the red dot on the forehead to bless everyone for the new year. We stay here a bit, watching the procession but we are quickly invited to go on a chariot. And the party goes again. We are offered Raksi, rice beer, a flower necklace and sympathize with this group of friends. They teach us and translate their songs. It is the football club of the district of Bhaktapur, whose captain is a rocker in leather jacket fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger and bodybuilding… Some times we go down the truck to use the instruments and mangle in the street. My waterproof bag “Marathon de l’Ardèche” sits on the head of one of our friends while I type in rhythm with cymbals. Where will it end?
I found your landscape. I’m sitting on top of a hill, above a small village named Tir Purakot. On this hill is a sacred place, fortified, adorned with large flags, long and fine multicolored fabrics floating on sustained wind up the valley. At the bottom of this Thuli Bheri river flows, I will go down it several hundred kilometers. It is engulfed in a deep canyon that we will explore tomorrow. Snowy peaks on the backdrop adorn this last clip. Large vultures welcomed us in this medieval atmosphere where a family man will give us hospitality. There is no road in this very remote and poor region. The only sounds that reach me are the wind blow and the water flow. The air is very dry. I found the key things that you taught me. The history, the beauty, the love of nature and living beings. I wish you were here because only you are missing. See you mom.
Campfire between Awulgurta and Chouhka left bank to the water’s edge under a huge pudding on a small section of sand between several large boulders, some wood. We just pass one or 2 km of large rapids, steep with lots of volume. Everything was flared quickly, it was good! !
Backward point by point.
Portage Awulgurta gorge. Two hour break and walk, two porters for five (Rs.500 each), a bunch of kids following us and the experience of Nepalese porters, my kayak on the back, a few kilometers crossing the village. Morning several kilometers in a flat section congested, dry, tan, green. Every turn reveals another embodiment, another magnificent wall.
Night 3 – The Earth, my bed.
Lying on the ground at the bottom of the valley, under the starry ceiling, I have a bed as big as Earth. Here we enjoy life in every moment. Every action we do, we appreciate the pleasure of being alive, free of our movements. The river teaches us silence. And happiness. Two essential things plus the cost of living, which is given more by isolation and the cultural gap with this people who pay the price of an exceptional living place by a relentless and overwhelming survival rigor. What kind of aliens are we to these poor and isolated villagers ?
Here poverty seems to hold off the misery. The flowing river is a vector of life and freshness that irrigates until the ocean. Its residents protect it in a sacred way because it will end up in the Ganges that should remain pure. Kayaking is another way to use the tremendous energy of the water. More poetic than the big destructive dam. I imagined living here year round, carrying rice in my boat like the donkeys we meet at every turn of the road, “the Dolpa highway.” Here absolutely no engine, no outdoor lighting, just the noise of mistress Thuli Bheri.
In my humble level of understanding, rather it is the people living here who would teach me more, agricultural people of the mountains and the river. Spirit of valley, almost completely cut off the world. Work: Central value. Be brave or shrivel. Milk the goat for your family as soon as you can walk. And Respect, for all living beings.
The river still offered me this: emotion. Spending two hours speechless, hallucinated by every scenery and every trace of human life, filled with the ball in my stomach characteristic of an intense and meaningful life
Make me breathe the purest air,
Surrounded by mighty mountains,
The water that leads us away,
The heat and the smell of fire,
Make our hearts burn nomads.
Day 4 – Awakening
We are a plastic patch in the middle of this scene. Kayaks, dry bags, sleeping bags, mattresses, everything about us is plastic, composite and “technical clothing”. Green, orange, blue, yellow, our colorful boats, clothing, our reddened faces are a moving exception in this valley. “The white men down the river.”
November 22, 2012 – Day 5
We finished the Thuli Bheri!
We are now in the Bheri Nadi, towards the great plains of the Terai jungle. The valley is widening and since 1pm yesterday we live in large gravel, meandering, bathed in a Mediterranean climate and vegetation. The crystal clear water, the distant thud of one or two rapids and wave size make me feel at sea! The water is warm and sandy beaches abound. The people here all seem to be fishermen. With lines, nets, traps … The hills are still red, ocher and green with conglomerated pebbles noting that the river was originally a large glacier… We could see today one or two snowy peaks, which was not so common because of the commitment of the valley in which we progressed for five days. The Thuli Bheri ends in a section graded three, volume, with beautiful rapids and waves. What a great rafting course it would be!
The rapids are so numerous that we would need 10 or 20 times before knowing a little better this river. The first one still surprised everyone. I personally remember two or three large passages fairly short but intense. In the golden canyon with huge siphoning boulders and fall on the right, the one on day 2 I went with Dom with a huge roll leading straight in a cliff cave on the left, one on day 3 with a huge cushion in the entrance and this block to the left. That same day we had a huge wave with Boris along the left bank. What a slap! There were daily long chains of rocky outcrops, on the arrival of small tributaries. There were in golden canyon this little grade 5 with a series of three falls with large rolls. There were plenty …
I realize that it was pretentious wanting to learn directly from the river. We are just passing once at the best time of the year benefiting mostly from its rapids. The people here live with her all year round and feed in it. They burn their dead inside. They see it arise during monsoon and subside gradually. Their way follow faithfully the river between his cliffs. The river is nothing without the mountain. She brings pebbles, rocks and boulders that shape these so cherish rapids. Mountain. Men can dig tunnels, roads, and blast whole sections, but they will never come down of it. That makes it much less fragile than the rivers who dress it. And what about the air we breathe? Is it more sensitive? We could experience it clearly between cities where everyone wears a mask, and the valley of Dolpa where air is exceptionally pure and pollution does not seem to exist. Yet our air warms relentlessly. Such as oceans and their regions with a high concentration of waste, the atmosphere warms and pierces at poles. High glaciers melt everywhere, leaving nude rocky mountains. Human activity leaves dirty traces on our land and the coming years will be worse at this level.
Should we return to a life as lived here in Dolpa? This would be in many ways a step backwards. Towns are already so dense. Modern man is grouped into giant cities, pumping the necessary resources for its survival in large region processed according to their needs. Intensive agriculture, deforestation, power generation, mining and mineral operations of all kinds. All this amounts to the city by all means of transportation possible and fuels modern human civilization. It spits it all in science, culture, sports, politics, new challenges for the human race. Some privileged ones return to the source, trying to understand where do they come from. They show mountain people what are their sacrifices used for. Have fun where their parents have banned them venture. “Chisapani. The river is dangerous.” The age of plastic and electronics goes in full swing and reduces the planet to a human scale. A day trip in Dolpa transports you 40 km from home. A plane day makes you go around the world. One computer minute transports you where you want … We live this time full on in the knowledge that this will lead us to our doom.
November 26 – back to Pokhara
Here cleanliness is a luxury we pay willingly. Regularly in Nepal we face in our waste. Popular toilets consist of a Turkish hole cast in cement, and a faucet or shower tap, rusty and leaking. The place is damp and walls ooze. The smell is a warning: “Attention Kule, here you’re not home!.” We’ll have to touch the door, the plunge or bucket of water, tap, maybe a small coconut-biscuit-sized piece of soap. Feet in our flip-flops shrivel, praying to avoid splashes. atmosphere seeps into you, leaving you a spoiled taste of vinegar in the bottom of the mouth, well hidden under the closest piece of clothing. Here we are back to our condition of foreigners frightened by local diseases, and the aptly named Turista.
The saddest scenes are during bus stops in the cities of passage. Tremors and twists of the Tata machine stop after a final heating and screeching brake. A flood of small Nepalese get out and we find ourselves out, feet in the dust and plastic bags trying to find out if this is a meal break or a simple loading stop. Another bus with 30 people on the roof honks continuously since its entry into the village. It offers us a cloud of black smoke as he pass to us. We are already in a damp mist and dust that makes the sun light and warm. We move to a small shop to buy mineral water. We try to understand the grandmother vendor. Young people who are close help us with an English word reusming two minutes of trade in Nepali. “Fixty roupees”, they tell us smiling…
And in the meantime indefinite misery offers us. Tires used to the frame, tangles of electric wires, piles of plastic garbage, dead tillers, oil cans and ripped people in rags crouched, waiting. Children brats, dust stuck to the corner of the lips play barefoot in the roadside. There roll a bicycle tube, launch plastic bags laughing …
Here is life in the world. The so-called Third World. Which should be called the base world. This base that powers our rich western world. Which teaches you how to enjoy life as something ephemeral, and shows you respect as the first rule.
These moments of confusing travel are often followed with actions equally incredible.
The most significant have been held throughout the whole descent of the Thuli Bheri. Parents greet us from afar, shouting “Namaste!” The children run around to greet us, and hurtle along the beach, stumbling over the stones, shouting and laughing. Bridges women who wear their loading on the front stop and smile at us. Those who wash clothes watch in a surprised laugh and salute us. Some fishermen challenge us and we help them to send their lines from one bank to another.
The evening of the third camp, fifteen children and teens have invested our beach, inspecting our equipment. Once changed and our gear hung, we started to play with them. Balance on hand, wheel, juggling, human pyramid and even ola, we spent more than an hour, having fun with these little villagers. In their eyes, you could see feelings never seen before, terribly catchy sincerity.
One night in Pokhara I shared a moment with two pairs of young Chinese travellers. Having given my clothes to wash I was dressed in kayak gear, my nylon shorts over tight lycra pants, and socks in sandals. We looked at each other smiling, exchanging two or three sketches of English. One of the girls told me I was “handsome”, “beautiful” in my unusual style of dress … I still am astonished.
28-11 Best day of the trip!
That’s it. We’re in! We are going by two with Boris, up the Kali Gandaki in a crowded bus in the dark. We scan as we can the river, seeing many steep passages, long and littered with huge rocks. Swung from left to right, surrounded by people we do not understand, en route to a remote village in the mountain which about we know nothing. We found what we were looking for, summarized in one word: ADVENTURE!
The one that makes next day uncertain. The one that scrolls smoothly over time. Where expectation joins action. Adventure that brings its share of surprises.
The surprise is at arrival. Tatopani. Village on the main road of trekkers to Annapurna. International cozy little enclave populated by smiling people, all speaking the same language. We starts quickly dalbat accompanied by a young Russian woman. It’s a beautiful meeting. She tells us that the Russians feel closer to Chinese than Europeans… She also indicate us hot springs to go absolutely (tato pani means hot water). So after this wonderful meal we try to find the bathes. Then we spend some time rejuvenating our bodies stretched by all this sport and the seven-hour bouncing journey.
Kali Gandaki. Particularly sacred river for Hindus, taking its source in Tibet and digging a path through the gorge between two of the highest peaks in the world, Daulhagiri and Annapurna. This is what awaits us tomorrow and I expect quietly, refreshed by the sauna, propped up in my sleeping bag in the small room with blue walls, tin white roof and hard bed. Four walls, a roof, a bed and a friend, that’s all it takes to be happy… Good night …
Kayak – 29-11-12 – Best day ever!
The river has kept its promises. Six hours down to what is perhaps the best kayaking day of my life… On the bus back to Pokhara, piled up among the Nepalis I have the strange and exhilarating feeling to have longer, thinner and more robust arms. My head is on fire and my body radiates. I am filled with a mixture of serenity and excitement. Serenity to have followed the river closely, from beginning to end. Excitement of overcoming beautiful and committing rapids.
Kayaking on the river, many passages are linked “at sight”, that is to say, without prior recognition from the bank. This requires the ability to read the river. We need to look ahead to anticipate the “line”. At that precise moment where we try to guess where to go, we’re not in the present, but a few seconds ahead of it. The management of this is delegated to the boat. The kayaker, him, is in the future …
The rest day
The day after our famous descent is a day of rest. Our adrenaline inflated bodies have now fallen in a flat migraine. Sleep was deep but it is a strange dream that awakens my mind. I figured out I was in the United States for a week-end to party with Evan Garcia, a young star in the small world of kayak freeride… My spine seems to be welded, preventing mobility of my head up to my hips, and my arms hangs inert along this block of aches. My legs, relatively untouched by our efforts of the day, refuse to move more than half their usual speed. This is the natural energy they lack. Only the image of an old white citroen C15 car fuelled with recycled cooking oil reaches me. A good day of action announce an equally good rest day… Eating plenty, resting a lot, walking slowly, washing hot, stretching muscles and a good nap, this is the program for this well-deserved day of adventures! Insatiable appetite compelling, this day of rest is also used to prepare the next day’s trip …
My boat is my best friend
He shows me the way
I just Have to follow him
He’ll carry me from source to sea
And that’s why I love my boat, and that’s why I love my boat …
Born in the countryside of New Zealand, he took form under my eyes. In the bliss stick workshop I had selected music for him. The Doors for freedom, the reggae of Black Uhuru for robustness. He followed his first waves on the beautiful rivers of his native country. Then flew over oceans and continents to the French Alps. Together we hurtled Ubaye, Guil and many other pearls of white water. My boat took me to my first big drops, in Italy. We are now together in Nepal. Without him, no descent. I become tourist. Here it is called Dunga. Is it not he that children applaud and salute? It is with him in any case they play at each bus stop. There I stalled my trip gear. My sleeping bag, my passport, my plane tickets, I confided him everything. At the far end of the gorge we cross, only my boat would enable me to pass.
On the water I let him guide me. He takes the right angle to pass between waves. When the step becomes really high or hole is too powerful my paddle intervenes. It had been discreet until now, loyal ally of our duo, always a blade immersed guiding us in the right direction. But this time its role comes to the fore. It will launch the kayak in the air for a decisive moment. My task is to send the message off to my ship. I began to take the information from my paddle which is far in front of my feet. My fingers began to heat; my arm hardens, my shoulder tightens to my back, my belly gets up, my hips unfold, my legs stretch and my feet forward ardently all that energy to my boat who rears and flies, beautiful unicorn that I am riding in the air. Weightless flash, I fly and my blades vibrate in the air. Preparing to land I come forward and replace the paddle, ready to throw us in the next rapid …
01/12/12 – the trip day
After a boating day, a rest day. After resting, a day of transport. 5:15am wake, preparation of gear then the first taxi, first negotiation, first impression of being had. Kayaks are an excuse to ask us twice the price. First roof rack load. Then we repeat the same thing five minutes later at the bus station. Negotiation, Nepalese business, boat loading, protection against the terrible angles galleries, the real danger of Nepal. The bus ride is an interminable Way of the Cross, knees tight against the front seat, circulation in the legs cut due to ultra fine bench, shoulders against shoulders and undergoing dust, pollution and hot clutch odors . Indian music with a nasal voice singer assault our eardrums at 100 decibels. Is there only one CD for all national buses? In the front we bounce in all directions and see trucks of all sizes facing us and honking in our ears. In the back, the bumps in the road take us off, hitting the ceiling with the head and falling heavily on our anaesthetized butts… Nobody should go in the back…
Every two minutes, we stop, two or three people with a crate of apples, a wicker basket or a goat cram into the corridor and on the roof when there is no place left. The old ladies scrape deep throat and spit out. Some require a plastic bag and vomit in it. Gradually crowding helping ; hands, arms and buttocks caress and graze us without any gene. It is usually at this point that occurs the terrible urge to urinate… Shortly after eleven o’clock, our conversation returns to the same subject: the Ham Butter Baguette, the Slice of Paté de Campagne, the Saucisson and bottle of red wine, Vaucluse preference for Mr Boris…
It will be crisps or coconut biscuit and mineral water.
After 5 or 6 hours we reach the end of the paved road. We only have about thirty kilometers up the valley. We need to find another bus. After the same routine we leave for the last trip, this one by track. We see the river we go down, it is turquoise, powerful and steep. It is far below the track, yet close to a meter you could end up in no time to understand why the bus would have missed the turn… What a hell of a long journey is the last one! That is why, after having discharged and carried our bags and boats to a small inn hotly negotiated, we collapse hard on our little bunk, exhausted by the 100 km journey, seeking to regain strength for the following day of action!
2-12-12-Marsyandi (Syange -> Bhulbule) – Best river ever!
The main difference between the Nepalese rivers and Ubaye, volume and slope equal, is that the former are navigated at low water. We operate in the middle of titanic blocks, more or less spaced apart sufficiently to pass one or two front kayaks. We can engage in rapid without end in sight ahead, sure to find a place between these stone giants and among these powerful eddies, waves, rollers and other aquatic whirlpools. Always comparing Ubaye to her hymalayan cousins, I sometimes try to imagine these same rapids at high flow. Our little bodies, even perched on their small boats there would certainly not have their place. Ants on a twig quickly drown in the creek.
Our journey goes towards its end. Last bus track. Last dalbat. Last river “difficult”. I admire at this time the last sunset on Manaslu II and its neighboring peaks. Fleeting moments of pure beauty … I still think I just touched lightly the river. I dove into her turquoise blue eyes and fell in love for the rest of my days. Tomorrow she will not remember me. How could she love me while my peers block, stain, dry and take it away? This Lady who in her childhood looked so beautiful in her icy clothes, that we are finishing to remove. When she will be naked, shackled and submitted, dare we always enjoy his undulating and generous forms? Our children will see her flat, withered and lifeless and grant them certainly contempt, dirt and spit. Which gallant knight dares defying the human torturer to release his oppressor? I come to dream a near disaster, a global event that would free all these Ladies abused by those Lilliputians beings.
After a month to navigate rivers requiring the best of ourselves and find our own solutions I realize the progress we made. What at first intimidated us now makes us smile and we’re getting almost blind laughing in rapids that had not so long ago certainly impressed us. Only one month, and ten or twelve days of committing kayak. This reminds me of two things. What is the next step? The rapids I descend are far from impressive compared to the world’s best boaters. I prefer portage those that seem accessible but with too obvious hazards. However I dream of big names such as the Stikine River in Alaska or the Rio Baker in Chile. Have I not fulfiled one of my dreams going down the Thuli Bheri? Who says progress also says more commitment and therefore potentially heavier penalties in case of error.
The other idea that inspires me is the rapid growth and confidence that we gained, helped by the river our mistress (“supreme master of the art of flow” D. Ammons). I can anticipate almost without fail the movements of water in the rapids, and then build a track and hold precisely a chosen line, all in a great and bottomless pleasure. It must be the same for any other person gifted in some other activity. I also found the same thing in my other hobbies or in certain occupations. Each activity practiced regularly is source of progress that can sometimes be spectacular.
Which are in my case with whitewater kayaking the recipes that have worked? Above all there is a deep love for my sport. This feeling of happiness every time on the water is constantly renewed. From here derives the obsession, which makes even dream at night. Obsession in discussions, readings and videos, in the organization of time and even in the choice of my profession. Obsession goes with progression with no doubt. Another key point is the technique. I learned by wise people or books the technical fundamentals of my activity. I found some by myself. My regular practice was to push as far as possible each foundation of my sport. Moreover, it is certainly one of the differences between the good slalom competitor I was and the great champions, who spend more time focused on these issues and have been able to exploit further. Warming up this morning on the river I even thought there was a innate side to this progression, without words to describe it. Finally I had the chance of being well surrounded, saving time in my progression. But why specialize in an expensive activity while some love and practice one lucrative and/or less traumatic for the body? A master baker or a trader have certainly much fun to anticipate the results of their actions. I do not see myself baker, much less a f***ing trader. I should do something that I love. And as these surfing moments at the peak, seize the right wave at the right time.
4-12 The great departure
It is today that we need to load all of our gear in our kayaks down the river Marsyandi to Kathmandu. We take our time, waiting for the sun to pass above the high hills bordering Bhulbule. We try to stall everything in our waterproof bags, two small ten liters on front, a 40 liters right rear and a little mess in the back left. Between my legs, my rope, my bottle and my camera. Damn! No more room for my shoes! They end up in Boris’s boat, who will go with a mattress strapped to his back deck.
We leave our guests, an unforgettable family, and descend to the river. Few warm up strokes make become aware of the weight of our boats and we embark on our final descent. What a Magnificent part! Large rapids await us, but without ever needing to disembark we go very quickly. We move on the river with our lives in our boats. A huge sense of freedom come over me. Turning back we see the snowy peaks that seem to greet us. The river at every turn gives us another beautiful rapid and beautiful surroundings. We are gone for two days and a night under the stars on a beach. At one point I put my kayak in a intriguing water movement. I feel myself sinking beneath the surface with my boat and the river spit me happily in the air … “Encore!” We look at each other laughing, before being pushed in the next slide. We navigate in full happiness and wish it never stops.
Yet it is a hydroelectric dam that forces us to disembark. We’ll have to find a bus for a few kilometers before returning to the water. We begin to wait in kayak clothes, then cooling a bit we decide to get changed. When a bus accept to take us we choose finally to return directly to Kathmandu, stopping prematurely our nomadic descent. Leaving the river and its beautiful nature, civilization recovers us back to pollution and stress. The 6 hours to the capital are long, very long…
Last hours in Kathmandu. Will I return one day?
I look back on this time in Nepal. Intense days experienced slowly. Some seized opportunities. Others not. There’s something that rings false in capitals living people. They seem to wander, chatting aimlessly, swimming in the great ocean of silver coins, sometimes clinging to a hopeful buoy or drowning in artificial and immediate pleasures. Some cultural centers are rich in humanity, spirituality. It escapes me. Why all believe the same lies? There is no ten-armed being living in the sacred peaks.
Yet, there, are other things to protect. More fragile than almighty god but containing life more than anything. There are glaciers and flowing water, pure and beautiful. We poor humans obsessed with our survival have not been able to realize this and are destroying this planet that sustains us, as a parasite infesting a tree and asphyxiating it. Faced with the absurdity of our lives some are focused on a closed, family life. Certainly they feel very well, their lives will be prosperous and packed their belongings in their property. I am not! Long ago I left my village and let its doors shut behind me. Nothing since I was more than satisfied to move freely wings, hovering around the world. I see my old love stories as much as prisons, even not daring to dream.
Every westerner should come to Nepal, mix with the lives of these people even a single day. Realize that some things like new technologies or huge selection of any product are not essential. Be aware that many things that seem basic in fact are not acquired. Drinking water, electricity, garbage collection, roads, sewage treatment, one car for one, TV…
“What is that?
-The philosopher’s stone and the elixir of long life. This is the great work of the alchemists. Who drinks this elixir will never be sick, and a tiny fragment of this stone turn into gold any metal.
-Are you crazy? Why do you say so?
-When we have great treasures under the eyes, we do perceive as ever. And do you know why? Because men do not believe in treasures. “
That’s it. It is finished. There is no transition, once mounted in the plane Nepal flew far, he returned inaccessible kingdom. The Western world, padded and polite overtook us.
Polite, polished… Synonymous with eroded, worn smooth and without burrs. I prefer politeness of river stones on which slides and works free and crazy water. Who polished us?
This trip has reignited a fire over old coals, and in my soul I want him still burns. Plans and other long-term projections of the future will not get rid of it. It is now that the story is written and comes forward. I could never go against my values. Freedom. Freedom has a price that is not counted in money. That can not be counted elsewhere. In fact, it is invaluable. You have to know how to take it, but the hardest part is to keep it. Comfort and Safety are there at your fingertips, it is sufficient just to lay Liberty beside itself a moment, take the other two with both hands and with fingertips recover the one left just before .But Freedom is a precious and volatile fluid . Spread your fingers for a moment and she escapes, runs, falls and evaporates even before hitting the ground, so instantly that we quickly forget the benefits of her freshness. Liquid Liberty against the solid Comfort and Safety. It will only fill the empty space.
“We have three days, said the alchemist. He will turn into the wind, just to show the strength of his power. If it fails, we humbly offer our lives for the honor of your clan.”
The Alchemist. He teaches to believe in hisself and seek his personal legend. What I felt boating , I also felt it traveling. Be open, learn patience and seize the opportunity when it comes. We must follow our heart and intuition and can be pushed back by impressive forces. There is opportunity to grow in a committed life if you take the time to learn and the courage to throw yourself. And it is along this line that life will be meaningful. With its intense moments and those more hectic. With its exclusiveness : A single go, a single wave from the serie, doing his best to make something beautiful.
From this book stay two names: Baker and Stikine. Southern Chile and Alaska… Also stay other words that relate our adventures. Photos and videos, and encounters. All those people who greeted the water travelers attired, helmeted and armed with their paddle, riding their multicolored horses. These exchanges half-understanding with these men and women known as foreigners. How can someone who looks at you sincerely and deeply can it be called “foreigner”?
Some things have missed us. The price of freedom is there. Have nothing. You must therefore be able to forgo everything, each possession having more value. We must look for what we love. Not so much what we like to do but rather what suits and blossom us. What feeds the fire inside and brings forth life in us.
The inspiration leaves as we get closer to France. The plane swallows distances as an implacable machine. Floating in a pure dry air and bright above infinite sands. Off a chain of snowy mountains offers other mysteries, adventure calls… What is there in the middle? And on the other side? It’s amazing how good books speak of truth. Our society today seems full of lies. Polite lies, or to make better or for giving pleasure. Paradoxically, in France, countless are those who claim to have the truth.
The clouds are so beautiful when viewed from above. Their contemplation blind me. Water, water again which in its purest form is an inexhaustible source of beauty, joy, life. The same one who made us. That awaits us in a few hours as fat and generous snowflakes…
That was a year ago day by day. I remember, on the way to Transmusicales festival in Brittany, filled with the same knot in my stomach. I remember this whimsical mood causing me the greatest joy to the deepest distress in a fraction of time. I see my friends gone too soon. A year has passed, like one of those days of preparation in Nepal. Many good things have happened but I can already see the break away that emerges. Slope failure and huge boulders scattered on the way. We’ll have to take the time to stop and look at the intimidating rapid that is offered to us. The decision to pass will be a real step forward, one hundred percent committed to his life. Instead, portaging and refusal to pass will lead regrets. And this chance we will be offer once. No turning back, just a bitter taste in a closed mouth or on the contrary a tight and powerful acid one of accomplishment, along with a more piercing sight and increased sensibility. What have I got to lose in this story? Not much, truly.
And at that moment I just hope a beautiful rapid in my life ….
Matthieu Le Gall – Travel to Nepal, November-December 2012.