The continuous activities of the last few weeks caught up with me. I was nauseous for most of our Himalaya hike, and by the time we got to the hotel I was outright feverish. Even though the temperature was a balmy 17C (62F), I was freezing and I could not warm up.
The girls did everything they could for me. They gave me extra blankets. We even rented a heater. I still had trouble warming up. Cramping started in the upper gastric intestinal area, and gradually worked its way to the lower gastric intestinal area. I had to sit on the pot for a while and release the pain! Even after, I had no appetite and I had difficulty staying warm.
Consequently, we changed our plans and skipped the Namo-Buddha visit. We were so looking forward to staying at a monastery and living with monks for two days. But I couldn’t make it. The girls were gracious and said they were tired after the hike, but deep down, I knew they were forgoing it so they could take care of me. How lucky I was to have three wonderful souls with me!
So we spent the next couple of days in Dhulikhel. Alyssa and Kylie caught up on work and I focused on getting better.
There were plenty of hotels in Dhulikhel and only two ATMs neither of which accepted our card. The town offered views of the Himalayas in the distance and also places to eat. Kylie and I enjoyed a wonderful meal at a local diner (well Kylie did the eating and I did the paying). The town center was small and compact. Windy narrow allows were peppered with people looking for their daily needs. The bus park was a giant dirt parking lot, it was active with people getting on and off as well as drivers maintaining their buses. Fruit and sweet stands were all around.
I wandered the streets with Kylie, shivering and weak. How more people don’t get sick here is a mystery to me. People shower and do laundry, at public water spouts. Many times they do dishes as well. Dishes are rinsed or wiped cleaned with local water. Sometimes there will be a purified water at the restaurant, sometimes not. Dirt and soot filled the air, yet everyone ate with their hands.
I spoke briefly with a young man who wanted to know where I was from: “Yes, we have bad environment here. Everyone so poor and not care about the environment.” He motioned to a hill where piles of plastic garbage had been thrown. “Young people don’t do this as much, only the older people.” I was at a loss. The waste management problem seemed so large here. Like everywhere else in Asia, people were extremely careful with their doorstep, but less concerned about area’s that weren’t theirs or weren’t immediately in front of them. The problem seemed so large.
Unfortunately, on of the lasting images I have of central Asia was the open gutters. Miles of horrid grey foul liquid filled with garbage, sewage, and all other manners of yuckiness that made me forever fearful of contact with them. They flowed, coalescing, into larger streams and sometimes even making rivers so nasty that nothing but plastic bags would touch. On one occasion I saw a small child reach down and touch it (as little kids are prone to do), and the mother grabbed the child like they had just touched lava. She yelled and carried the child to the nearest waterspout where she scrubbed their hands.
Local buses returned to Kathmandu every 5 minutes. We hopped on one and descended out of of the higher altitude towns, back into the megalopolis Kathmandu. The air quality diminished all the way down the mountains.
Even though we had seen so many wonderful things, after nearly a month of polluted and hazy air, I was ready leave. I still wasn’t well. I was constantly cold, and I couldn’t manage eating yet as any food I did put down, created abdominal cramping.