Holidays (and the Border) fast approaching, Santa M.I.A.

Thursday, Dec. 18, 10:18PM
A Shithole, Nepal
636km

How do four Americans in Nepal celebrate the holiday season, you ask? This morning over breakfast we listened to Christmas carols on Jamey’s mini iPod speakers. And we’ve watched Babe’s la la la, la la la, la la la, la laaaah scene like 10 times this month. (“Chrismas means carnage!!!”) I saw a Charlie Brown Christmas tree today, well actually it was just a branch sticking up on top of a freight truck, but it was close enough to make me happy. Besides that, our Navidad is not so Feliz.

Babe
Babe

We’re trucking along well, and it looks like we’ll be crossing the border around Christmas Eve, give or take a day or two. NOT exactly our ideal way to spend Christmas, but what can you do in a place where your holiday doesn’t exist? The extent of international cuisine outside the major tourist cities is Chow Mein and Indian food. Jamey told us over Dal Bhat tonight that his Christmas Meal so far consists of a bag of Classic Lays potato chips (all the salty snacks here are flavored with masala), Root beer, Soy jerky (from his personal US stash), and orange slice Gummy candy. As completely ridiculous as that sounds, it’s no joke!

Life on the road is swell, and we’re racking up the kilometers. Today was a great day of cruising on flat road, and it really flew by for me, for the first time. We were Drafting again today (riding tight like a flock) and I really like it… It’s nice to work as a team, and it’s less physically and mentally taxing as you’re not racing yourself or trying to catch-up (if you’re trailing your friends), rather you’re just keeping up with the pack, and you get to coast. A great development! Today I realized that, in addition to Traveling(TM), which has been obvious from the outset, I am also Exercising regularly. I never looked at it that way before, but this is the stuff that people do to achieve goals, like losing weight or maintaining good health. And I was thinking of it all along as mere transportation!

Posters like these Indian beauties decorate many roadside lunch-spots.
Posters like these Indian beauties decorate many roadside lunch-spots.

Today we passed a caravan of buffalo walking down the street, and at one point (when we had just overtaken the herd) I noticed about 30 of them in front stampeding after us! It was a hot minute or two of screaming, laughing, and heavy peddling! Those beasts were BIG and running full force on our tails… it was awesome. Cara, listening to music on her headphones, was the last to notice. Awww, (poor girl!)

Nepali wiring job on our ceiling fan.Nepali wiring job on our ceiling fan.
Nepali wiring job on our ceiling fan.

In other exciting news, our luxury digs tonight include private WC and a mirror! In all fairness we’ve been renting the 200 rupee ($2) rooms, but honestly I can’t imagine what the more expensive rooms would do differently, based on what I’ve seen. I snuck into one of the fancy rooms in our hotel in Damauli to use the western shower, (as the shared one for the floor had no running water), and the difference was basically a blue carpet, a private toilet, a tv and arm chair, but it too lacked running water, there was an empty rum bottle on the bed, and the toilet had two condoms floating in it. I’m not trying to bust on Nepal, but I guess the condom box we just found in our room (with explicit sex scene pictured — why do they have to portray sex so nasty?!) made me think of it. At another hotel in that town we were offered a room for a whopping 1500 rupees, and we just laughed and then they put us in a room for 200. But now I want to at least see what they would have offered us for $20, so my opinions can be more informed.

That’s all I’ve got for tonight. Actually, speaking of tonight we are sharing a room with two beds pushed together, and we’re all sleeping head-to-toe, Charlie and the Choc. Factory style. As usual I’m the last one awake, and it might take a while to sleep (we’ve got a snorer!) So I’m out. As always, New York, (and yes, NJ too!), and you All are in my thoughts. I’m really getting excited for India… more adventure awaits! And you can bet your correspondent will be reporting. Namascar. A

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