I arrived in Kathmandu a couple of days ago and had a few surprises. Apparently, there has been some political unrest here for the past few days. The Communist (Maoists) rebels are in conflict with the current government and wanting power. They have rallied the people of Nepal in gathering and protesting in the streets.
My first day in Kathmandu I headed out into town with a few others. What a strange, interesting, and somewhat intimidating scene to see masses of groups coming down a narrow street, chanting and waving communist flags with police in full padded uniforms close behind and the occasional UN vehicles passing through. But before I worry many of you unnecessarily, we have been keeping away from all of this and are content strolling down side streets where no problems are found (and far from downtown where all the protests are). The only real inconvenience (or maybe its a blessing?) is the fact that the government has closed all shops so communication via internet/phone has been a bit more difficult.
Now, all the lighter news - Kathmandu as a city is ... interesting. On one side, the poverty is quite striking. Walking down the street is difficult without being approached by numerous people asking for money and avoiding the smells is impossible. On the other side, I find their spiritual beliefs quite fascinating. A couple of us hired someone who wanted to help us so desperately to show us around one of the temple squares. In one of the temples, there are 4 different statues of the elephant, ganesh. One of them symbolized happiness and our street-tour guide was telling me that when the people feel so sad that they want to cry, they come to this god and they are then happy and nothing can make them sad again ... wow, even in this poverty-ridden environment with so little options, people find a way to be happy. Some perspective for everyone, really.
Tomorrow we fly to Lukla to begin our actual trekking. We've had all our safety briefings (such as ALWAYS yield to yaks - apparently they can be quite angry sometimes!) so I think we are as prepared as possible for now.
Until next time,