Category Archives: Travel

Ayahuasca in Colombia – A story about my Spiritual Retreat and Enlightenment

I’m at cheshire coffee. I got here about forty minutes ago intending to finally write about my trip to Colombia. But instead of writing, I texted people. I read emails and surfed the net. I found an article about heart attacks in women (number one killer) that I HAD to read, I had no choice really – can’t mess with heart attacks. We all must be informed.

I’m still texting. I can’t stop. I have ADHD.

I wanted to write about my trip for the longest time, but found myself in a whirlwind of activity when I landed back in the states. Not all of it fun.

A huge reason why I chose to do drugs in Colombia was to get away from my thoughts and the people who let me down. But when I returned home from Colombia, I was forced to see these people and relive my old hurt feelings all over again. The repairs I made in Colombia started to unravel. My insights and understanding slowly diminished. Poor me, right? Eh, I’ll live.

I met a lot of new travel companions while I was away, had the time of my life and experienced excellent insights. I even reached enlightenment. I’m hoping this post will bring me back to that blissful state of mind and help repair the unraveled threads. Hopefully this post will bring me back to Colombia.

Now without further ado, let’s turn to the first page of my travel journal and dig in, shall we?

Day One

August 3, 2012

The journey to Colombia was an adventure all in itself. It started at 7 pm August 2nd when I found out my ride to the shuttle bus cancelled on me last minute.

Matt – “I’m sorry but I can’t bring you. I don’t want to take part in any of this trip. It’s a stupid idea and I don’t want you going. I’m not being responsible for bringing you because I don’t want to spend the rest of my life blaming myself if something happens to you.”

Me – “Okay, that’s fine.”

I was irritated.

I booked a shuttle to take me to LaGuardia airport through CT Limo. It was scheduled to pick me up in Southington – very close to home and easy enough for anyone to drop me. It was the first irritation to a relatively long journey.

I found another ride from a good friend, but my anxiety did not cease. I had to deal with an even bigger dilemma than Matt. I had to deal with an ex-friend who was fixated on telling my parents where I was going. She went and worried my poor older brother about the dangers I’ll be facing, and now she was off to tell my parents. I felt like a little kid getting ratted on. It was a huge anxiety trigger to say the least. She was ruining my trip before it began.

I spent about three or four hours (possibly more) texting, no, begging her to “please don’t do this” but it was no use. I was sweating at that point, completely exhausted and my body was so infested with anxiety that I couldn’t stop shaking. This is partly why I’m not friends with her anymore – she has no empathy or compassion towards me, but still reads my god-damned blog goddammit.

The friend who brought me to the shuttle bus had a few beers in his car – thankfully. I chugged one and smoked a cigarette before the shuttle came striding in at 2 am. I hugged my buddy goodbye, wondering if he’d be the last friend I’ll ever see again. And if he was, I made a good choice being it was him.

The beer settled my nerves somewhat, but what really gave me hope was the girl who shared the shuttle with me. It’s pure coincidence, sheer luck that my friend Kali shared that lonesome shuttle with me at 2 am. She was hitching a ride to JFK. What are the chances? I mean, seriously?

So there I was, deathly afraid for my life, sitting in the cold air-conditioned shuttle next to Kali. I was well on my way to the Amazon jungle to experience exotic drugs all by myself. It was the first trip I ever taken alone. My fears being reinforced by Matt’s judgments, compounded with my ex-friends threats, the thought of riding the death wave of ayahuasca. And to top it off, I had a weighted feeling in my chest that my parents were going to drop dead if they found out where their sheltered, naive daughter was.

Sheer exhaustion ensued. Every cell of my being honeycombed with adrenaline. But there was Kali. Sweet, sweet Kali smiling at me and being stoked for my journey. I wondered if God planned for her to be there. The odds of her being there are practically astronomical.

It was a long, dark 2 hour ride to the airport. I was texting my ex-friend back and forth. She couldn’t allow me peace of mind. All I wanted was peace of mind – for the knot in my brain to release.

It didn’t happen until I was out of the shuttle and standing outside the airport at my gate. I was standing outside the door to Spirit airlines letting the lights of Laguardia brighten me up. With my backpack nestled on my shoulders and a newly lit cigarette in hand, I looked around at the twinkling stars and cars coming and going, dropping off and picking up travelers, my heart lifted.

I saw myself as a brave girl – brave and willing to better herself against all odds. I was doing something that I dreamed of doing since I was a kid. I used to pretend I was an adventurer like Indiana Jones. I pictured myself wearing his hat, having mad skills with a whip, but I also imagined carrying around a backpack with a collage of patches sewed into it from all around the world. I was a weird kid, but there I was, outside Laguardia. I had the backpack with one patch already sewn in place. All I needed now was the hat and whip.

I filled my lungs one last time with the fresh night air and the smoke of my American Spirit and headed inside.

The first plane taken me to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It was relatively uneventful. My seatmates were Colombian and told me if I needed anything when I got there, don’t hesitate to call. They were ridiculously nice people. My second plane ride, the one to Armenia, was less enjoyable. My flight from Laguardia was delayed, so I only had 10 minutes (not even) between flights to go to the bathroom, brush my teeth and call my parents to inform them I landed safely in Florida.

My parents believed that I was going to Florida to visit a friend. If I neglected to call them, they would’ve called my ex-friend, found out the truth of my destination and drop dead with the receiver still clutched in their old white hands. Well, I forgot to call them. It wasn’t so much as forgetting, but I was so tired, stressed, and rushing to my gate that it completely slipped my mind.

I finally remembered when I was seated in the plane. Everyone was seated and ready to take off – the flight attendant impatiently telling people to turn off their cells. That’s when I drenched my shirt with sweat and dialed home with shaky fingers. It was the one and only time I could call them – If I called them from Colombia, the number that would’ve shown up on the caller I.D, along with the phone charges, would’ve blown my cover.

My Dad answered and I told him I landed safely.

Dad – “Oh okay good. Thanks for calling.”

Me – “You’re welcome. I’ll probably email you the rest of the week. I want to keep my phone off.”

Dad – “Here, your mother wants to talk to you.”

I could feel the burn of eyes on me from the flight attendant – my face covered in oil and grime.

Me – “Okay quickly.”

Any minute the pilot would come on the speaker and blow my cover. Any minute the flight attendant was going to come over and confiscate my phone.

Mom – “Hi sweetie you made it there okay?”

Me – “Yes mom I’m here and I’m safe. I made it, it was fine. I really have to go cause they don’t like cell phone use at airports.”

Mom – “Okay call us later then.”

Me – “No mom I can’t. I already told Dad I want to leave my phone off. I’ll email you.”

Mom – “It’s hot there isn’t it? What are you going to do there? Where are you going? Why would you visit Florida in the summer?”

Me – “I’m in Fort Lauderdale, yes it’s hot. I really have to go I’m sorta in a rush.”

When I got off the phone with her, I was so relieved. I took in a big sigh and tried to relax.

Fatigue settled in and I couldn’t fall asleep on the plane due to anxiety and screaming children. All I could do was think. I thought for a long time about the actions, the steps that accumulated over time to get me there to that moment. I ruminated on the process that got me to go to Colombia. I was sitting on a plane taking me to only god-knows-where, how did I get here? How’d it come to this?

I started thinking about, in fine detail, the Nepal abandonment. I had five hours to kill, so why not? Deliberating about what happened in Nepal felt like gravity to my mind – it wanted to go there, it followed the current. After cogitating Nepal, I relived the events that conspired after when I returned home. I felt abandoned and shamed all over again. For the entire plane ride to Armenia, my eyes became bloodshot and filled with tears. My chin quivering, my heart physically doing weird things in my chest and breathing became difficult and felt like a chore – I had to tell myself to breathe or I’d forget.

I couldn’t move. I sat there ignoring everything around me. I sat with my head butted up against the seat in front of me and closed my eyes. I felt sorry for myself. I pitied myself. It was the lowest I felt in a long time. I literally wanted to cry, but held it in. Holding in an eyeful of tears brings with it no release. I was a mess, a complete destitute mess. And it lasted for five hours.

The plane landed, the people applauded. I got up, got my things and like a zombie, went through customs.

I slowly walked outside the airport gates and looked around at the brightness of the day and the new terrain. It was my first time in South America – the newness of the experience helped deaden my sadness and I was able to take in a deep, well-needed breath. That’s when I heard my name.

A pretty blonde girl was looking straight at me smiling.

“Yeah that’s me. Hi!” I forced a smile.

She gave me a hug and several others greeted me with hugs. And with that moment I was happy again. I was happy and relieved.

We all piled into a spacious bus and headed to Los Sauces, our new home for the next week. The self-pitying emotions I felt on the plane ride completely vanished. I stared out the window of the bus and snapped some photos. I was pleased to see very little trash on the ground and no ramshackle housing. Everything was quaint and colorful with a luminous mountain backdrop reflecting the sun in a picturesque design.

Okay so some of the houses were dilapidated wrecks…

I was finally there. And I felt safe and immediately cared for.

I met my two roommates who were also single women traveling alone. They’re seekers of change and adventure, real soul-searchers like me. I instantly loved them both.

We unloaded into our appointed bungalow and made ourselves at home.

The girls let me take the top room which was a single room with its’ very own patio. I was in heaven. I unpacked my things and let myself relax for the first time in 31 hours. I spread out my arms and legs, stretching and yawning like crazy on top of the mattress.

I opened up my journal and wrote:

I’ve been up for 31 hours. I’m finally here. I’m having trouble comprehending it, but I’m here in Colombia. I’m so tired. This feels surreal, like a dream. Like it’s not really happening. I’m in a single room upstairs in a simple bungalow. I have my own patio. I love my roommates. One of my roommates is outside my room sitting on the patio and writing in her journal. I can’t decide if I want to write or sleep – write, I must write.

Ralph, one of the trips organizers, said that; “Ayahuasca is like cave diving. With cave diving, you descend fast and swallow a lot of CO2. Some people panic because they can’t breathe. You have to surrender yourself to it. You have to trust you’ll be okay. If you surrender and trust ayahuasca, she will take care of you. The visions that come with it are a gift. It’s like the movie Avatar, being plugged into nature. There’s nothing else like it.”

A few minutes later I hear him say, “yeah, I shit my pants once. It happens.”

Nicole, my roommate, asks – “How much ayahuasca should I drink?”

Ralph – “The shaman knows how much you drink. He’s amazing when it comes to dosages. But if you have any questions or concerns, you can ask him. He’s very good at answering questions and honoring your concerns.”

They have goats here. They sound human, like zombies, or deaf people trying to get people’s attention. I hear them but can’t see them. I’ve never heard goats like these before.

The ayahuasca is the scariest thing right now. We are taking it tomorrow night at 9:30 and at 5 am, people get hungry so soup is made.

Day one was filled with introductions, a late lunch and delicious dinner. The dining area was nothing more than an outdoor kitchen with a roof overhead. It was decorated with antiques, and had a welcoming homey feel to it. I thought it was the best thing ever.

Day Two

August 4, 2012

It rained heavily the night before on my little tin roof. It rained and thundered like you couldn’t believe. The thunder cracked so loud that the trail of rumbling lasted for over a minute. I never heard a storm like that before. Constant rumblings. It felt like the rain would never end – the ground and everything (including me) will always be wet. The thunder kept waking me up intermittently throughout the night.

The first time I woke up from the thunder, I forgot where I was. When I remembered, I became scared and homesick. I fell back to sleep exhausted and dreamt about swallowing ayahuasca. In my ayahuasca dream, I felt the effects of aya. A pounding heart and ominous fear – a fear not directed at anything specific. It was more along the lines of terror – terror in its purest form. I woke up with my heart pounding, my eyes were open but couldn’t adjust to anything.

“So this is what it feels like. This is what I’m in store for. I can’t do it. I’m not going to do it.”

The fog lifted and the fear subsided. I fell back to sleep and dreamt about swallowing ayahuasca again, a second time. In that dream, the effects were subtle – slightly pleasant even. I woke up and decided to do it after all. Dreaming about ayahuasca felt like preparation. If I were to succumb to pure terror, I will laugh at it, grin in its face and call out, “Is that the best you can do!?”

I was lying in bed still exhausted from the flight, weakened from weird interrupted sleep. Outside was cold and damp, but I needed to peel the covers off and shower. I haven’t showered in two days. At 10 am, we were to meet at the Maloca (an ancestral long house used for ceremonies by natives of the Amazon) and have an introduction ceremony.

After my shower, I hung out with my roommate on the patio. We are on the same wavelength her and I. We could talk for hours and hours about the weirdest stuff that mostly anybody would not have a clue. We are both Monkeys in the Chinese zodiac and I honestly couldn’t ask for a better roommate. I garnered so much strength from her. She is no doubt a kindred spirit.

We headed down to the Maloca for our first introductory powwow. Ralph sat us all in a circle and one by one we went around and told a little bit about ourselves.

Me – “Hi I’m Melanie. This is the first time for me doing anything like this. My parents don’t know I’m here. They’re religious and kinda like rednecks. They don’t travel and would have a very hard time understanding all this. They think I’m in Florida. Originally I wanted to go to Arizona for a road trip, but somehow ended up here.”

This made everyone laugh. It was essentially the same remark I made in Nepal: “Originally I wanted to go to Thailand, but found myself here in the Himalayas instead.” It was the remark that marked me for dead. K was out to get me after I said that. But not these people. They cracked up.

I decided a while ago to surrender myself to the idea that I really don’t have a clue when it comes to others.

Me – “I typed in the google search engine “Ayahuasca retreat Arizona” and got the website for here. That same night I decided to do it. I contacted Peter and a month later, here I am. I’m very nervous about taking ayahuasca. I never did any kind of drug before besides pot, so this is new for me. Also I have a lot of weird things happen to me in my sleep like out of body experiences and my dead grandmother coming to visit me, so I’m sensitive to things like this. I’m curious to see what happens. Okay, that’s it.”

Them – “Wow, you’re really brave to be here.”

Me – “Well, we’re all here. We’re all brave.”

I started blushing and getting nervous. They kept saying how brave I was for being there, but I couldn’t understand why they were saying it. We were all there together – them being no different from me. I was the second youngest person there, maybe that’s why. A man, Simon, brought his 19-year-old daughter with him. Besides her, I was considered a youngin’.

Everyone, well, mostly everyone there were completely normal people. A few had their quirks, but they were sensitive, loving folks seeking answers and enlightenment.

This one woman in particular stood out. She lost her twin sister in a freak accident a few years ago and because of it, became extremely lonely and depressed. She sought out mediums to reconnect her with her sister – she ingested ayahuasca to connect to the spirit world so she can see her sister again. The woman is such a character. She can talk for hours at a time and none of its boring. She talked about her only friends being ducks and turtles – naming them and getting to know their personalities. Her voice changed into a little girls voice when talking about her “friends”. My heart went out to her.

She is such an interesting woman with an amazing story, that she is starring in her very own episode on the Biography channel. It’s going to air September 1st at 10 pm. A camera crew followed her around for weeks. The story she told was amazing, but I won’t get into it here, you’ll have to watch her on the Biography channel.

After the Maloca, a few of us headed outside Los Sauces to scope out the little town of Finlandia – population 7,000.

It was relatively early when we got there, but the natives were already sitting down on outside benches gossiping and drinking beer. It was my kind of place. I, however, wasn’t allowed alcohol, so I had to settle for a coffee. I was in Colombia after all, I had to take advantage of either coke or coffee – both being equally addictive.

Dave informed me that on a bad hallucinogen trip, you can counteract the effects by downing a sugar packet – I stuffed one in my bra for safe keeping.

Angela trying to get the local men to dance with her.

Gas is expensive in Colombia. Everyone drives motorcycles.

Moo.

When I pictured what Colombian men were like, I visualized a trim man with khaki pants, tasseled shoe’s, fancy silk shirt and a wide-brimmed hat. I wasn’t expecting to see them asleep on a bench during the day.

The time was nearing. It was almost ayahuasca time. My fear returned and I became a jittery nervous wreck no thanks to the coffee.

We were not given any dinner because it would come back up on us. Ayahuasca makes you puke, but they call it purging. The purge is meant to cleanse you of emotional and physical trauma. I felt that I would have much to purge.

Me and my roommates grabbed our headlamps, jackets, hats and whatever else we needed. Nicole, my roommate, gave Cheryl and I stones shaped like hearts she found in Los Sauces. I was to keep it as my totem – something to keep me grounded and feel safe. I know how silly it sounds for a rock to keep me safe, but it was my teddy bear away from home. It was all I had. I was frightened.

We tromped down to the Maloca to meet with everyone.

Mats were laid out with blankets and pillows on top of them. I situated myself next to my roommates. I didn’t want to stray away from them. They made me feel safe. I was in frightened little girl mode at that point.

It started getting dark. The ceremony was underway. After the initial introduction, the shaman started to make his blessings and do his chants. He blessed the ayahuasca – which looked to be a gross, thick brown liquid. One of the natives went around to each of us, smudging us with incense. Everyone was quiet. It started to rain and thunder. It was dark. The maloca was lit up by a few candles. I clutched my headlamp. One of my fears being the dark.

Then it was time. One by one we went up to drink. We went up and kneeled in front of the shaman. The shaman carefully measured out the amount of ayahuasca we were to drink – pouring some back in the container, pouring a tad more into the cup. We were all to drink from the same small cup.

It was then my turn. The shaman attentively measured out my dosage, blessed it one last time before handing it to me. I downed it all in one gulp. He had me drink some blessed water before I returned back to my mat.

Me – “Gracias.”

He gave me a genuine smile – the man was truly a loving individual. He radiated warmth.

I laid down and waited. I looked up to the center of the maloca and waited.

The drumming began. Drumming and more chanting. It seemed like an hour went by before I felt any different. My biggest concern was seeing visions – I didn’t want to see them. I felt I didn’t need to. I accepted the fact I was going to puke. I don’t mind puking, it doesn’t bother me, but some people shit instead. The shit can come on so strong and violently that some people go in their pants. Shitting her pants was my roommates biggest concern.

This one woman, Maggie, wore depends. It was her fourth time attending the spiritual retreat and every time she shits. She never pukes. She was hoping to puke this time around.

I became worried about purging right away – minutes after drinking. When I started to hear others running to the vomitorium or to the bathroom, I relaxed and felt better thinking that I’m a trooper and can hold my liquor (medicine). I didn’t feel sick at all actually, but my mind started going. I started thinking. During this thinking period, I was still coherent – I was myself, thinking the same thoughts as I normally do, only fragmented with very little remembrance. I was very spacey.

I went outside the maloca to sit by the fire with some others, and pulled out a cigarette. I let it dangle from my lips forgetting it was there. People ran past me to the edge of the cliff (the vomitorium) to puke, and I would get jealous of them. Purging meant the ayahuasca was working and cleansing them. After purging, they will experience a deeper level of the medicine.

Nobody was talking, it was all very quiet. Only the drums and chanting could be heard and the occasional retching or toilet escapade.

This is the vomitorium. It’s directly in back of the maloca – a few feet away from the back entrance and next to the fire pit which I gazed at for hours.

The Ayahuasca kicked in for many people. They were lying down, flapping their arms around, some sitting cross-legged with their eyes closed. People made sounds, not bad or good, just sounds. Some slowly walked around, circling inside the maloca with their blankets covering their heads. I sat outside by the fire and waited.

People started talking to each other. They were coherent, but not in the real world – I was envious. I wanted to be where they were. I stood up and walked toward the entrance of the maloca and peered inside. The shaman spotted me and whispered something into his translators’ ear. After listening to the shaman, she walked over to me.

Translator (Catalina) – “Can I get you anything?”

I was hesitant – “You mean more ayahuasca?”

Catalina – “If you’re wondering if you should have more, than you should have more.”

She’s such a warm, good spirit. I sensed a lot of love in her. She could talk me into anything,

Me – “Okay.”

And so I drank myself another cup.

I drank myself another cup and went back over to the fire to sit. I sat there for what seemed like thirty minutes. My thoughts became less scattered and more compact, less fragmented and more felt than before. It was not an unpleasant feeling, but not altogether wonderful either. I still hadn’t purged.

I was sitting by myself next to the fire. Now and then one of the natives would come over to throw another log on, and then smudge me with more incense. With each smudge of incense, I felt heat rising inside of me and felt myself going deeper – deeper into a place I never knew existed.

Once again I found myself thinking about what happened to me in Nepal – how I didn’t deserve to be treated badly – how my best friend, after returning home, told me I deserved it – that I frustrated and annoyed everyone and I needed to apologize. I needed to take responsibility for my actions and apologize. My eyes filled with tears as I stared dazed into the fire with my cigarette dangling. I didn’t deserve it. No, I didn’t deserve it.

That’s when I felt the vile contents rise in my throat – my self pity wanted out – wanted to purge and cleanse. I ran the few feet to the vomitorium and let it rip. I surrendered to it, I surrendered myself completely to ayahuasca and understood for the first time what that meant – it meant letting go. I cried and I retched violently for about 30 seconds. When I was done, I raised my head to look into the dark, foreboding jungle. My eyes saw bright flourescent green strands connecting the tree’s to each other. Like each branch had some kind of bioluminescent quality. I blinked, blinked again – mouth hanging open, chin dripping with bile.

Me – “Whoa. Is this….is this ayahuasca? Is she showing herself to me?”

I decided it was my eyes playing tricks on me and went back to sit by the fire. To this day, I still think it was my eyes playing tricks on me, but I don’t want that fact to downplay my ayahuasca experience. What happened to me next was profoundly spiritual and meaningful.

It was personal – extremely personal. And for me to write about it knowing that I’ll get ridiculed, judged and talked down to by others saying it was a crazy trip no different from acid, I can’t help but feel offended. It’s disrespectful to me, the shaman, the Lakota indian tribe and many others who benefitted from this medicine.

The people who never ingested ayahuasca, will never understand it. Its origins are unknown. It is said that nature told a shaman thousands of years ago what two plants to mix together and how to prepare it in a certain fashion. Out of the millions of plants, leaves, roots and petals to play around with infinite mixtures and possibilities, the shaman story seems more plausible compared to dumb luck. Some records talk about shamans being able to communicate with the plants. The plants tell the medicine men what cures what.

After taking ayahuasca, I’m a believer.

Granted, I never did acid so I can’t compare the two, but I truly did feel connected to the spirit world. That I had access to its infinite knowledge – that I was special and powerful. I felt in control and had complete power over everything in my life. I will try to describe what I felt as best I can.

Calmness soothed my nerves and pricked at my awareness taste buds. My mind became clear, and I was curious about everything. My thoughts slowed and became controlled. I went to sit back inside the maloca and listen to the drumming and write a little in my journal. I felt clarity – I felt light.

People under aya acquire the unusual ability to leave their bodies – to have astral travels to different worlds. I’m a natural when it comes to this. I experienced flight, wormholes and different dimensions all from the comfort of my very own bed, and please remember that I don’t do drugs – it was all natural.

People who leave their bodies often share their experiences with fellow travelers. The worlds are infinite, but people somehow end up in the same places. There’s a world with a giant pyramid, a world with eyes everywhere, a hell world which many people end up, a hall of records world…etc. Experienced travelers can meet up with one another for a shared journey.

I wondered how it’s possible to get outside my body, while at that moment, I was in my body and completely aware and coherent.

As soon as that thought flashed across my mind, I felt a pull from up above. Directly above my head were crackling sounds of electricity. It sounded like a mixture of crackling from a bug zapper mixed with the buzzing of a beehive. I felt my hair being lifted, like someone was rubbing a balloon to it. The maloca started getting hazy, dark and blurry – the drumming became farther away. I felt a string attach itself to the top of my head and started to yank.

Me – “Eh, okay, so that’s how it’s done. Okay, okay I gotcha. Think I’ll stay here for now, thanks anyway.”

The room came back into focus. I was in the maloca again, completely – I didn’t realize I was halfway out until I came all the way back in.

In that moment, I hit enlightenment. The buzzing and whirring, which I contrived as being the sound of rain hitting the roof (please remember that I was able to rationalize and think clearly about everything I was experiencing), diminished. I felt the weight of my body return. This experience alone was worth the trip to Colombia. That experience in itself, was worth double for what I paid, no, not double, priceless.

So there I was sitting cross-legged on my mat, my journal spread open resting on my lap, and I was in complete amazement of what just happened. I looked around at everybody.

“Nobody know’s. They don’t realize. There are so many possibilities….”

Then and there I understood everything. The meaning of life, what happens when we die, where we go after death – I understood evil and hell, religion, people, myself, god – EVERYTHING. I also felt that I was lucky. I was lucky to experience something that not a whole lot of people can experience. I couldn’t understand why me? Why am I so special? I said it in a humble, non-egotistical way. I really wanted to know. Why was I surrounded by holy white light when I was 18? Why did my grandmother take me out of my body on an astral visit when I was 9? Why does my soul want to leave my body most every night? And why this? Why was I brought here to Colombia? What am I supposed to do with this knowledge?

It was a lot to think about. Good thing I had 10 hours to do it in. I actually thought to myself, “No wonder why this stuff lasts all night – there’s so many questions to ask. I hope 10 hours gives me enough time.”

The second cup of ayahuasca sent me into the other world. It felt as if I walked through a doorway, and the purge was a necessary evil – a shedding of the physical and emotional attributes keeping me in the real world. Crossing over is not easy. It can be violent and scary. To purge yourself is surrendering. Purging is like death in a way. One last thing the body has to go through before crossing over into the spirit world.

I understood that not everyone understands this – even those who take ayahuasca, may not reach this understanding – they may not even reach enlightenment. Hence the question, why me?

I looked up with tearful, glassy eyes and said to myself out loud – “Because I know suffering.”

At least, that’s what Aya told me. But still, not enough to understand deeper. There are many layers.

Before drinking ayahuasca, some believe that you should have a question already formed in your mind. A question that aya can help you with. When the shaman passed the cup to me, I held it in my hands and raised it to my forehead. With my eyes closed, I asked the question “show me everything you know ayahuasca. I want to understand everything.” And then I drank. This may have contributed to my experience. Everyone’s experience is different, yet some connect – which is bizarre, and I’ll get into that later.

My eyes felt black with no pupils. The world looked and felt different – like I was in a small room with no sound, no doors or windows, but at the same time feeling the expanse of infinite universe. I knew I was standing just inside this doorway of all-knowing. I knew that I could go deeper. Walk the few yards to meet with souls unborn, worlds that aren’t materialized – I knew I could take that leap and meet my past and future selves. But I was too scared to go further. I could feel all the layers of consciousness. Each layer you walk through becomes a new wave of enlightenment – but then another layer stops you, blocking your path. Courage is the key to going deeper.

I was content with the first layer I found myself in. They call this the break-through layer – the layer of understanding. It all starts with this layer.

I had all the answers to all my questions. I saw the universe for what it really was. I reached enlightenment and couldn’t imagine what it could mean to go deeper. I never knew what it meant for someone to be enlightened. I never googled it, or read books that described what it is exactly. If I did, I either can’t remember them, or never understood them to begin with. I never knew what it meant to be enlightened until it happened to me.

To be enlightened is to have understanding of reality. Pure and simple.

Okay, so it’s a little hard to explain, but while I was experiencing it, it seemed so simple – too simple – like it was all common knowledge. My thinking brain switched off and I was getting answers from somewhere else. I was intuiting answers.

I’ve been staring at this screen for five minutes now. Sweating in my shorts while my laptop pumps out heat to scorch my thighs, and I cannot – no matter how hard I try – I cannot find the words to describe enlightenment.

It’s like understanding a place, a physical place that you can see and touch. And that place is the universe. It’s the ability to see and understand the universe completely. Enlightenment is the ability to see the facts of reality unencumbered with ego. Ego is fantasy – It’s illusion.

It’s as much a physical understanding as it is spiritual. Enlightenment is the connection between the physical and the non-physical. Enlightenment is free of all delusions. Free of physical form. As long as you’re in physical form, grounded in the world you live in, you can never be enlightened. Enlightenment is death. It’s understanding physical from spirit.

The best analogy I can come up with is with Magic Eye art.

You cross your eyes until the images on the left, match up with what’s on the right. You combine the two (spirit and physical) and what follows is a new dimension. But the dimension was there all along – you just had to combine two things to see it.

I wrote in my journal:

1 +1 = 3

It combines into another dimension. It becomes raised as in 3D.

I know it all sounds crazy, but I know no other way of putting it.

The spirit world of Ayahuasca felt more real to me than the world we all live in. I was outside looking in. I was no longer of the material world and so, was able to be a voyeur looking in at it.

I was spying the world with my black aya eyes. And what I saw was a fantasy. The world we live in, is a fantasy. It’s meant to create suffering – everyone must suffer in this world in order to evolve. We create our own problems, emotions are delusions meant to toughen us – they are not real. When stating an emotion, you start with saying “I feel.” In spirit form, there is no “I.” Where there is no “I”, there is no ego and where there is no ego, there is pure understanding of reality. And that reality is beautiful.

Losing the ego is a very hard thing to do without the help of Aya. But in order for us to evolve, the ego must exist. It’s essential for growth.

We are spirit in our natural form. Having a body is not our natural form. Outside this world, when we die, is the true reality. Having that knowledge is enlightenment.

Those living on the superficial fringe of understanding, buying name brands, watching reality tv – running from one quick fix to the next – those people are running from the suffering. They’re not strong enough for it. They want no part in anything that has meaning. Things that have meaning can bring about suffering. Work is suffering. Growth is suffering. You have to purge your old self each time you go through a new layer of awareness. Purging is suffering. Loss is suffering.

Somewhere down the line, someone figured out that one must suffer to gain awareness.

I understood buddhist meditation. Monks work towards enlightenment by suffering through self-discipline. They can spend many years in meditation, in solitude, suffering their bodies through fasting. All in the hopes of gaining one small glimpse at enlightenment. However, after listening to Aya, all that sitting around meditating is not necessary – that is also part of the ego illusion world. At its best, meditation can still the mind, but enlightenment is something totally different.

I intuited that all beliefs whether they be religious, buddhist, or scientific have nothing to do with reality. Organized religions, while I was in the enlightened state, were laughable. I don’t mean any disrespect by that, but they were laughable.

I understood why some religions practice self-flagellation or mortification of the flesh in hopes to cleanse themselves through suffering and become closer to God. Suffering does raise you closer to God as long as the ego is absent. Anything ego driven is based on illusion.

I perceived there to be no literal truth behind religious texts, but some of the symbolism is strong in the spirit world. There is light and there is darkness, there is a hell you can go to. Jesus may not have been a real man, but what he represents is real. People exist in the world today who die for others sins. They are the strong ones, the martyr’s, the teachers. People purge their hatred onto martyrs so that one day the people can see, learn and grow. The shared goal in the spirit world is to evolve. Why that is? I don’t know.

Religion was never meant to be taken so far and used inappropriately like it was. It has become an ego-based illusion.

There is a hell world you can go to – it’s a place, the easiest place to get to in the spirit realm. It has the most amount of gravitational pull than any other world. There is a hell, but there is no evil there. The evil that we learned about does not exist in the spirit world. But what does exist is fear. Fear is devoid of light. It’s a heavy darkness. It’s the opposite of understanding – opposite of enlightenment. The only evil in the universe is fear itself.

I’m very sensitive to people’s energy. When I feel a negative vibe from someone, I can feel my energy being sucked away from me. I feel miserable and don’t understand why. I get agitated and crabby.

When a strong, light spirit tries to help a dark, heavy spirit, there is a chance the dark gravitational pull will force the light spirit down with them. Especially if the dark spirit refuses help.

The way to stay strong, and keep out of the dark side, is for you to suffer. It’s a double-edged sword. Suffering is the only means to gain strength. But we have a choice. We can end our suffering as long as we let go. We have to find strength to let go. We find strength – hence gaining a deeper level of awareness from the bravery it takes to go deeper.

Here are the steps for acquiring awareness:

Suffering

Strength

Courage

And another layer of consciousness unfurls

Me – “But what’s the point? Why evolve?”

Aya – “To stay strong for others on their journeys. We can only evolve together. We can only survive by helping each other.”

Me – “But why? Why does it all exist?”

Aya – “Once you have that understanding, you’ll be seeing things through the eyes of God.”

I was still only at the first layer of understanding. I had no answer for why it all exists, because I’m not ready to understand it. I haven’t suffered enough. Therefore, not brave enough.

I looked around at the others in the room. Each person being a separate entity – each on their own personal journey. That’s when I reached another understanding about people.

Positive people, cup half full kind of people, they believe that we are all somehow connected. That there is some unforeseen force connecting us all, uniting all of us. And that we are never truly alone because we are together. Um, no. Not true. Ayahuasca tells me different. Ayahuasca tells me the complete opposite, actually.

Everyone is alone. We are all alone and separate from each other. What we do and say has very little to do with the people in our lives, but is a reflection of ourselves. We are all embarking on a singular journey through life to better our souls. We, ourselves, are not connected, but our actions and beliefs unite us. Helping each other connects us in a way, but still ultimately, we are separate entities.

However, when we die, we become one with the universe.

Never expect help from anyone – never need anyone. Try to remain self-sufficient and don’t take from others. I’ve gotten a very strong apprehension to never take from others. Never to demand too much of their time, or love. Demand nothing, want nothing. When you demand nothing, want nothing, the love has a much greater return. It has movement and flow. Ego and need are the greatest dividers.

Conceiving this notion led me to a new understanding of respect. Respect for others space, respect their choices. Honor them from a distance.

Kristie taken too much from me. She asked for too much, and in a way, showed disrespect for my time and my self. Kristie needed too much. Taken more than I could to give.

I perceived this so clearly. I also perceived that the people who don’t demand anything are the strong ones. Not only are they strong, but beautiful. Inner strength is beauty. Being able to be strong and empathetic towards others is beautiful. I also understood that these beautiful people had to suffer a great deal to become strong. They rid their ego along with all judgments upon others. They are light and clear, free from the delusions that emotions can play upon the soul. When others look at them, they feel safe.

Children can have this effect on people. When children are around, laughing and smiling, it brings strength and courage to others in the vicinity. Adults feel the need to be strong, if only for the sake of their little ones. The little ones bring their parents courage, the parents return the courage with love. Parents can learn and grow from their children.

Never offer help when it’s not wanted. Offering to help a person who doesn’t want it, is condescending and disrespectful on the part of the helper. They have no right to rule over anyone. They are no better, know no better. A true helper helps at the right moment of need. When a person is reaching out. They never give more than what is necessary – always respecting the person and honoring them – no judgment is ever made.

One who “helps” others, letting the ego drive them, is patronizing and can do more harm than good. These types of helpers are not self-aware. Doctors and other people in high positions, like police and leaders, can succumb to dictating what’s best for others. Ego is not spirit. It is an illusion of the physical world and can only exist there.

Many people offer help with the intension of receiving something back. These people want to feed their ego with love and admiration. The people who accept help from these people, feel pressured to respond back with insincere gratitude.

Matt judged me and tried to rule over my decision to go to Colombia. He felt he was the authority and tried to help when help was not warranted. He was ruling with his ego and fear, not honoring my choices.

Wow it’s really late. I’m so tired. I’m going to have to pack it up for the night and continue tomorrow. This post might be just as long, if not longer than the Nepal post.

Okay so where was I? I have no clue on how to continue. Shit….

Okay, so let’s say you’re one of the unfortunates who end up in hell. Sucks to be you, right? The trick is to get rid of your fear. You can get rid of fear with love. Love thy enemy and all that jazz. To be light, you have to rise. And to rise, you have to rid all the gravity of fear. From above you can see your enemies are fearful and weak, while you are strong. You are able to truly love them. Love hell and understand its purpose. It’s meant to give you strength and wings to fly.

I understood that Ayahuasca is illegal because it awakens people. Our journey in this world is to suffer and by being awakened, we’ll lose that. You can’t overdose on Ayahuasca. It’s not harmful to the body. In present day, shamans feed their newborn babies Ayahuasca as soon as they eject from the womb. Even before they exit the womb, the shamans rub Aya into the uterus.

Anyway, I think that’s all the information I gotten from my first ayahuasca experience. It was purely awesome.

At around 4 am, a man named Will, who is a spiritual bare-footed hippie and a regular denizen to the resort, started banging a steel drum and demanding I sing. So I sang, “Eye-A-wasca, Eye-A-wasca, aya aya aya want eye-A-wasca.” I sang that for about 10 or 15 minutes. People were zoned out on their mats, some were sleeping, others sitting up listening. A lot of people already left.

At about 7 am is when I went back to my bungalow. The aya was wearing off and I needed sleep desperately. I got back to my bed, laid down and closed my eyes. It was there when I saw my vision. It was eyes. Blinking eyes staring at me. I wasn’t frightened as I thought I would be. I told them to go away, I needed to sleep, and they vanished.

Day Three

August 5, 2012

I gotten no sleep. I only shut my eyes and rested them for a few hours before getting up again. I got up and went for breakfast and to talk with everyone about their experiences.

Nobody mentioned the word Enlightenment, which surprised me, but most of them had awesome experiences.

Laura, the woman who lost her sister, she wanted so desperately to reunite with her but Aya told her no.

Laura – “Aya told me to enjoy life now and let go. I have to enjoy the gifts of this world and be happy.”

During my enlightenment, I understood that when you want something badly enough, it will never happen. It can only happen when you let go. You have to find the strength and courage to let go. I thought about Laura when I was awakened and knew she will never find her sister so long as she’s still attached to her.

I told Laura about the answers I received, and she let out a wail saying, “But I miss my sister!”

If you know Laura, you would understand what I mean when I say wail.

Me – “Next time we do Ayahuasca, you should ask Aya how to let go. If you ask her how to let go, she’ll tell you.”

Laura – “That’s a good idea. I’m going to write that one down.”

And sure enough, Laura was able to let her go. Her seven day transformation was miraculous. By day seven she was beaming with happiness.

My roommate had an out of body experience, and this other guy, Bill, was able to create new souls. Bill was able to see cosmic geometry and patterns. Aya came to him and gave him geometric patterns for him to create new life in the spirit realm. It started with a hibiscus plant, then a dragonfly, and ended with a butterfly. Each pattern becoming more and more intricate.

The crazy part is, I totally believe him!

I was sitting there listening to everyone’s stories, being amazed all over again. I couldn’t eat breakfast because I had to do Kembo later. Kembo is another thing that makes you yack. It’s not for everyone, so it’s not required or frowned upon if you don’t do it.

But mostly everyone did it – that’s why I loved the group I was in, they’re just as crazy as I am.

At 12 o’clock we headed back down to the maloca.

We scattered around the room on our mats and waited turns to get mutilated.

Will – “Okay who’s first?”

Laura – “I’ll do it.”

Laura went up and sat on the chair next to Will. She was handed a two liter pitcher of water that she had to drink right then and there. She had to drink the entire thing while Will poked her arm with a seared wooden stick 9 times (it may have been more than 9, I forgot). The pokes hurt her because she let out a loud “Ow!”

After getting poked, Anna, a Hippie chick that also practically lives at the resort, swabbed frog slime onto a wooden stick and passed it to Will. Will filled each poke with the frog slime. Yes…..Frog slime.

Laura stood up and walked over to a row of chairs lined up specifically for this event. Each person, after being slimed, is to sit in one of these chairs with a bucket in their lap. The purpose of the bucket? You guessed it, puke.

Laura sat in her chair with her bucket and waited while the next brave soul sat next to Will drinking a large pitcher of water.

It taken about 40 second for Laura to start hurling. Laura is very loud in all that she does, so when she pukes, it’s the stereotypical loud “blah, huuwaaa, uuuuhhhh.” She was unbearably boisterous. We all let out gasps.

Then the second victim got slimed, sat next to Laura with their own bucket.

Everyone watched in anticipation. It taken about a minute for the second victim was on their hands and knee’s puking in a bucket.

Oh yeah, have I mentioned that? You don’t actually stay seated while puking in your bucket. It comes out so violently and weakens your entire body to the point where you can no longer stay seated, but hunched over a bucket on your hands and knee’s – like a dog hovering over his dish. Your face becomes puffed up like a frog.

Eventually all the chairs were filled and soon enough I witnessed a bunch of people on their hands and knee’s puking simultaneously. It was the weirdest experience of my life. Nothing can possibly get any weirder than that.

Laura was rolling around on her mat, no longer puking but wailing like a baby. She rolled up a blanket and stuffed it up her shirt – I burst out laughing. It was hysterical watching this. People going limp on the floor moaning next to their buckets and watching Laura do weird things with a blanket – I couldn’t help to laugh. I’m such a weirdo, but I wasn’t the only one who thought it was funny. The natives banged their drums and chanted. Laura during all the ruckus, taken off her pants.

I waited to do Kembo until later in the day. I knew I couldn’t drink all that water with everyone watching. And listening to people puke made me not want to touch any kind of food or beverage. So I waited for later. I was going to do it with this woman Kelly who was arriving later that day. It was just going to be me and her.

Until my mutilation ceremony, I went to the little town again, hung out with people eating lunch. I couldn’t eat lunch because I was doing Kembo, which means I didn’t eat since lunch the day before. Not only did I not eat, but I’ve puked the night before and was going to do it again for Kembo. Yes, I’m a trooper. I didn’t even complain once. I’m not the complaining type.

It came that time. I met Kelly and we walked down to the dark maloca together. It was late and no lights were on. Ralph joined us in the ceremony along with Angela and Simon – they were great helpers.

I sat next to Will with my big 2 liter jug of water and chugged. The thing with me is, I believe I can do anything that anyone else can do. I bypass my fear with humor – it’s the only way for me. When I’m scared, I laugh at myself and the situation and get everyone else to laugh as well. I love me….

Me – “I just need to pretend it’s beer.”

Getting all the water down is the hardest part of Kembo. Its mind over matter. Will pricked me, slimed me, and gave me a bucket. I had my period, so I was nervous if the onslaught would be too much for me, plus I have low blood pressure.

I got my period the day before during my enlightenment. I was prepared for it, I’m always prepared.

I sat in my chair and waited.

The purpose of Kembo is to heal the body. It rids the body of toxins and in return, you feel like a million bucks after. Anna, the hippie chick, was doing it for 40 days straight. One prick a day.

Me – “Nothings happening.”

Ralph – “It will, don’t worry.”

My face started getting hot after about 90 seconds.

Me – “Okay, now I feel it. Something is definitely happening now.”

My heart started racing. I HATE when my heart races. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it scares the shit out of me.

I started feeling sick, and just like everyone else, felt compelled to go on my hands and knee’s. I puked once for maybe five seconds.

Me – “Eh, this isn’t so bad.”

Everyone starts laughing. That’s my way of getting through things, to laugh at it.

Then I puked again and again. Onslaught.

The first splashes of water that came out of me was still cool. My stomach didn’t have time to warm it up yet.

Will – “I’m going to change your bucket.”

Buckets have to be switched before they fill up – they are huge buckets too. I think people are more worried about getting splashed in the face if the puke fills up too close to the brim. It’s projectile vomit we’re talking about.

I wondered what was going to come out of me once all the cool water eliminated. After the cool water, what then? My intestines?

And sure enough, it was hot bile – thick hot bile. Getting that stuff out of me taken one tremendous hurl. A hurl that lasted more than the rest. My body was convulsing – it was ejecting on its own without my help. I had no control.

Ralph – “Good job! That one was great! Good color in that one.”

Me – “Eh thanks. I’m not looking.”

I kept my eyes shut the entire time. Snot was dripping down everywhere, my eyes were crying, my face looked froggy.

I can’t believe I’m eating cottage cheese while typing this.

But it seemed not to have lasted as long as the others. My kembo lasted about 15 minutes, others had it worse.

I couldn’t move my body, I was so weak. Ralph helped me up and I almost passed out. Everything turned black. I was still standing just barely and knew the blackness would fade with a few breaths. My heart stopped racing as soon as I first started vomiting, so that wasn’t an issue.

I needed to be carried to the bathroom. Angela watched me with the door wide open.

After my Kembo ceremony, Simon held my hand and taken me to my bungalow. I laid down and wrote a little. My body was completely ravaged. Everyone was at dinner. I was so weak, I had no energy to walk the 100 yards to the little restaurant. But after 15 minutes of rest, I was ready to join everyone.

I wasn’t able to eat, but it was nice to be comforted by everyone who shared the same experience, and it was nice being looked at as a brave soul by the people who didn’t do it.

kembo scar

Day Four

August 6, 2012

My body felt tired and weak. I joined everyone for breakfast, but can’t remember much about it. I wanted to eat and then go back to bed and sleep all day, but it was Yopo day. The Yopo ceremony started at around noon. Nobody knew what to expect from this ceremony – we had no clue how long it lasted.

Me – “I’m going to do Yopo one time and go back to my bed. I’m not sticking around.”

Nicole – “You don’t know that yet. Don’t think that until you have some.”

The shaman told of a story about a boy wanting to dip into his fathers yopo stash. It was told in old-fashioned Indian style. If you can picture Indians sitting around in a circle with their elder telling a story, this would be it.

I sat and tried to listen to the interpreter, but it was hard. I was unbelievably exhausted.

Catalina – “You can have as much Yopo as you like. It doesn’t harm you. It’s very gentle and will give you a relaxing happy feeling.”

Finally something that doesn’t make me vomit.

Catalina – “But if you don’t spit out the mucus, you’ll get sick.”

Damn.

The ceremony was underway. The shaman started his blessings. It’s mesmerizing to listen to him chanting – he rhythmically speaks fast and then slow, all monotoned. I’m not sure if it’s a real language he’s speaking or what. He blessed potable water that we were to drink during the ceremony. We were told to only drink the blessed water, not our own. There was a pitcher of blessed water for us to drink, but only two drinking glasses – we were all to use the same glass again.

We needed to ingest three ingredients in order for the Yopo to work. First we went up one by one to drink some watered down ayahuasca juice – which tastes horrible by the way. After drinking, we are handed a couple pieces of tree bark that’s been softened in ayahuasca juice so you can easily chew and digest it. The bark is an MAO inhibitor – it stops the body from breaking down the DMT from the Yopo.

The bark tastes HORRIBLE! It was soaking in ayahuasca all day. Everyone grabbed their pieces of bark and sat back down to hear more of the Shaman’s story. It was hard for people to get it down – very hard.

I have a strong tolerance for things that taste gross. I don’t know where I got it from. But as long as I know what I’m eating won’t kill me, I can choke it down. I gobbled down my tree bark like it was nobody’s business.

We went to our mats and laid down.

Me – “I feel weird. Do you feel weird?”

Someone – “Yeah, I feel a little funky.”

A native went around and smudged us with incense, and as before, it effected me and taken me deeper into the weird feeling.

Me – “I feel like I don’t even need Yopo. Something is already happening. I feel so relaxed.”

One by one we went up for the Yopo. You ingest Yopo by snuffing it. Is that how you say it? Snuff? Sniff? Snarf? I don’t know, I never snuffed anything before. My roommate, Cheryl, also never snuffed anything. She was nervous and a little in freak-out mode.

Me – “You just have to do it. Don’t think about it. Thinking will ruin it. Just go up there and do it.”

She did it. She had a little trouble with it at first, but Catalina showed her how’s it’s done.

Then it was my turn.

I knelt in front of the shaman and taken the hollowed out monkey bone in my hand. It was two bones tied together in the shape of a V, so both nostrils got hit at the same time.

The shaman measured out the grey powdered yopo on a flat slate, and held it up to my face. I put the bones to my nose and bent down to inhale.

Just do it, don’t think. Just do.

I inhaled like a trooper. The shaman and Catalina both smiled at me.

Catalina – “Good job.”

I laid back down on my mat.

I don’t know how long it took to feel the effects, but wow. Wow wow Wow. It was kinda like ayahuasca, only without the gateway to enlightenment. It given me feelings of complete bliss. Bliss and amazement of everything. Yopo is Ayahuasca’s fun younger cousin.

I became amazed at everything and walked outside. Anna and Will were sitting down in the grass talking.

These two hippies.

Anna – “Do you want to join us?”

Me – “I would love to join you.”

And that’s where I sat for many hours. We were looking up into the clouds and being amazed by them.

Me – “Wow, it’s like a kaleidoscope.”

Anna – “Oh Wow! Do you see that?! Isn’t that amazing?!”

Me – “Holy crap yes!”

Anna – “Do you see it?”

Me – “I see it. That’s amazing. They’re up so high.”

There were honest to God, hundreds of birds in the sky rotating in a circle. They were up so high you could barely see them – you had to have good eyes to see them.

Anna – “What are they doing up there?”

Me – “Having fun.”

I would have been amazed with the birds without the help of Yopo.

Ralph came over and sat by us. He had a crystal in his hand.

Me – “I like your rock.”

Anna – “Would a crystal take offense if it was called a rock?”

Will – “No it would not. We are all from the stone people. The stone people are from rocks.”

Anna – “What is it made of?”

She pointed to the crystal.

Ralph had a dazed look on his face – “It’s my Joey stone.”

Anna – “But what is it?”

Will – “Silicon.”

Anna – “What’s silicon?”

Will – “It’s the fourteenth element of Gods creation.”

Anna – “Oh is that it?”

I burst out laughing so hard. Everyone started laughing. We laughed for about 10 or 40 minutes.

Will went on and on talking about silicon for a half an hour. Nothing he said made any sense to me.

I felt like I was reliving the 70’s. Peace, love, harmony – it was awesome.

Everyone was either passed out on their mat’s, or walking around aimlessly with a blanket over their head. It was a funny site to behold. Then there was Laura who taken off her shirt and started twirling around chanting madly. I didn’t see her, but I heard her. She chanted wildly for about 15 minutes.

I found out later that she transformed into a butterfly and it felt wonderful.

I went up for more yopo. “I snort yopo 2 time” is scribbled somewhere in my journal.

I started writing weird shit like, “I am not my name. I am not Melanie. This body is Melanie. I’m in the body of Melanie and I’m lucky to be in the body of Melanie. She is strong and healthy. She is beauty.”

I separated myself from my body and realized she’s just a rental and doesn’t belong to me.

Then I wrote, “The numbers 1, 2 and 3 are the only numbers in existence that can do what they do.”

Will was telling me about the importance of 1, 2 and 3 and I thought they deserved an honorable mention in my journal. I also drew a picture of Grandma Spider. Will kept going on and on about Grandmother Spider and how she is the earth and we are her children. I was certain he was out of his mind.

I’m at Cheshire Coffee again. I see one of my old friends from high school waiting for her coffee. She looks like a grown mature woman. Shit she’s with another one of my friends from high school. I don’t feel like saying Hi, we’re not exactly friends anyway. They look and act older than me. They’re in a different world than I am. I don’t understand them, and they don’t understand me. Ha, one of them spotted me and turned her head away. People are so weird. At least I tried to wave.

Everyone here has a MacBook. I scoff at their newly minted Macbooks as I wipe the dust off of my old HP. It taken me 30 minutes to get my laptop running today. Damn kids with their MacBooks….Pffff.

Okay, so anyway, I was in Colombia snorting Yopo with hippies and soul searchers. The feeling it gave me was that of pure bliss. It’s like Ayahuasca in the way that you can have as much of it as you want and it allows you the option of going deeper. You feel in control at all times.

I was in a magical, blissful place for approximately 9 hours. The musicians sang their songs and strummed their guitar for 9 hours, if not more. It felt so safe and magical – like Neverland. Inside the Maloca was smoke, incense and magic. The energy was palpable. You literaly felt a healing energy going into the maloca – it felt thick like moving through water.

I watched Angela get healing done by the Shaman. He gently beat her back with a brush of sage of something like sage, and chanting. Angela kept burping. Burping non-stop during the healing.

It was around 8 o’clock when people started to come around and realize they haven’t eaten anything since breakfast. I missed lunch completely because I was in bliss. I didn’t want it to end. Going to lunch meant going back to reality and I wanted to hang on to the bliss for as long as possible.

I could no longer ignore my stomach at 8 o’clock. I was sitting on my mat talking to Nicole and Cheryl about none other than Grandma Spider.

Me – “I think we should eat dinner.”

Them – “Hmmm that sounds like a good idea.”

20 minutes went by.

Me – “We still haven’t left for dinner yet.”

Them – “Ha ha, no we haven’t.”

We had no concept of time.

We finally left for dinner. We sat at the little table in the outdoor restaurant and laughed our heads off. We were being so silly. We talked about the most absurd things, but it all made sense to us.

Cheryl – “Nicole, I thought I saw you today out in the field by yourself without a shirt on and it looked like you were throwing stuff.”

Me – “What were you throwing? Were you ripping up clumps of dirt and grass and violently chucking them at nothing?”

Nicole – “Nope, wasn’t me. I was too busy having cosmic orgasm and giving birth to myself.”

We laughed and laughed for hours over this.

Someone – “Can you imagine if someone walked by and heard us? They’d think we were all nuts.”

Laura received a message from Grandmother Spider to tell Nicole to go to the birthing stones and wait there for Grandma Spider to come to her.

Laura – “Lay down here on these stones like you’re giving birth.”

Nicole – “Okay.”

Laura – “Are you wearing underwear?”

Nicole – “Why?”

Laura – “You need to take your pants off.”

Nicole – “Whoa there Laura, I’m not taking my pants off.”

Laura – “You should take them off. You’re going to give birth.”

Nicole left her pants on, but laid on the stones and waited for Grandmother Spider. She waited and waited until finally, the Spider appeared.

Nicole was to give birth to herself. She said it was the most amazing experience of her life. She was reborn.

It blows my mind that three people saw Grandma Spider – Will had no idea she came to Laura and Nicole, so his experience was separate. It was from the Yopo. Yopo makes you see crazy shit.

I didn’t see any spiders. I didn’t see anything unusual. But when I looked at an insect, like an ant crawling around on my arm, I stared at it wondering what it was doing and where it was going. He went around in circles on my arm. I put my eye right up to the ant and stared at its tiny little head.

And that was my day Four experience with Yopo.

Day Five

August 7, 2012

Nicole – “What day is it? How long have we been here?”

Me – “I have no idea. My journal knows. It has infinite knowledge.”

By day five, nobody was sure how long we were at the resort. We had no clue what the date was. All we knew was that it was another Ayahuasca day. Daytime Ayahuasca starting at 2:30 in the afternoon.

It was also another Kembo day. It’s supposed to be done three times during a moon cycle. I was all set with doing it again, once was enough for me.

I was journaling outside on the patio with Nicole when Bill tromped by us heading for the Maloca.

Me – “Hey Bill, you headed down to do Kembo?”

Bill – “No, I’m going down there to talk to a tree and see what my wife is doing. I think she’s singing to some flowers and drawing a picture.”

He was completely serious.

2:30 came and we went down to the Maloca to lie on our mats and wait for the ceremony to begin. My goal this time was to see sacred geometry. When under the influence of Aya, people are able to see sacred geometric patterns in all of nature. I wanted to see them. I wanted to see them bad. I wanted to see them so badly that Aya wouldn’t let me.

I taken one cup, then two. The day went by in fast forward, like watching the day in time lapse. I saw no patterns, but waited outside next to the vomitorium just in case they showed up.

The Aya was strong that second day. I purged once and sat on a fallen log.

It was that broken log facing the vomitorium. I sat there for a long time. I was too tired to do anything. I couldn’t focus, could barely walk. People started walking around and talking near me – we were all out of it. I felt I had no energy to ask Aya questions, I was too tired to drink more and I didn’t want to puke again. The log felt safe and secure, like it cradled me. I flopped my whole body on top of it and gave it a hug.

Me – “I love this log.”

Laura – “Ha ha, yes it looks like a good log. I like your log.”

Everyone was giggling over my love for the log. Then I rolled off of it and onto the dirt, where I remained for the next hour or two. I was awake, but couldn’t move. The ground felt heavy beneath me, like it was far and near, warm and alive. I heard people stepping over me to vomit over the edge. My body felt weighted down with thoughts. It got dark out. I was still lying in the same position face down in the dirt.

There was no negativity to what I was feeling. I felt drugged up. Simply put, I was drugged up and never felt that way before (not for Yopo or the first Aya journey). It was my first time feeling that kind of trip. During the first Aya experience, most everyone was laying down with their eyes closed – I didn’t want to do that during my first trip. I wanted to stay lucid and present. Closing my eyes meant visions, and I was scared to see visions.

This time around, I wasn’t scared to close my eyes and drift. So I let it happen, but couldn’t open them back up. I tried, but they were only slits. I laid on the ground with my hair in my face, my eyes open to slits and my mind trying to comprehend what it was seeing.

I heard people sitting by the fire a mere few feet away. They were talking and seemed coherent. I wondered how it was possible for them to do that, to talk.

‘Think clear Mel. Come on, you can do it. Think light and clear. Think awareness. Think enlightenment.’

And then as quickly as I had dropped from the log, I popped up back onto it.

Brian – “She’s back.”

Me – “I’m back.”

Cheryl – “Glad to have you back.”

Me – “Thanks, it’s good to be back.”

I had once again crossed the bridge into enlightenment. My thoughts slowed and became controlled, I was again one with the universe.

Simon – “You look really good. You look clear.”

Me – “Thanks, I feel really good. I feel clear.”

People sensed my awakening just by viewing me. But I still didn’t want to ask Aya anymore questions, I felt lazy and wanted to talk to people instead. I spent most of the night chatting with others. Cheryl told me that she wasn’t allowed to go any deeper into awareness because she hasn’t suffered enough.

Cheryl – “According to Aya, I still need more suffering to do.”

Me – “Wow, she told me the same exact thing! That’s amazing. This whole thing is amazing. It’s like looking into the Matrix. It’s just like the Matrix.”

Day 6

August 8, 2012

I didn’t write anything in my journal for this day, but I remember the day very vividly. It was the day of the Inipi, sweat lodge ceremony.

I wasn’t scared about the sweat lodge. I figured after doing Kembo and Ayahuasca, the sweat lodge would be a nice treat. Holy shit I was wrong. Oh Lord how I was wrong.

The men went in first. They all piled into a little round dome hut covered over with blankets, a hole in the center for the red hot stones to be placed.

Will oversaw this ceremony as he did with the Kembo. He has expert knowledge about many things. He told the story of rebirth. When you are scared, you cling to your mother – she’ll protect you. The inipi is your mother, she carries you inside her womb – you must trust her. He told us we had no choice but to trust that the heat won’t harm us. If we were frightened, the heat would literaly burn our flesh. If we didn’t fight the heat, it would absorb into our muscles and bones.

The men went first. For a half hour they sat in there chanting and singing together. Every five minutes or so, people waiting on the outside would listen for the call to open the flaps and let in air. I think the word was “Kayetay!” That word is seared in my memory as relief.

The men came out of the hut buck naked, drenched in sweat. They warned the women of the heat.

Brian – “That’s hot. The hottest I’ve ever experienced.”

That’s when I became a bit worried.

We got down on all fours and crawled in the small opening. It was a tight squeeze. Will and Catalina sat in the center to glide the hot stones one by one from outside into the pit using deer antlers for tongs. Will started telling the same story he told the men. Then the flap closed.

I’ve never experienced claustrophobia before. I never knew what it felt like, but now I do. As soon as the flaps shut, it was complete darkness. I couldn’t see the glow from the hot stones because Catalina was blocking my view. And it was hot, REALLY hot. The steam is what killed me. Will chanted and threw water over the stones every few seconds – the steam was baking my flesh.

‘Trust it Mel, trust. Trust trust trust – AHH oh shit AHHH it burns!’

I tried. I gave it my best effort to trust the heat, but it still burnt my skin. I wanted to cry. I felt the terror welling up and my mouth holding in a scream. ANY physical contact from the people sitting next to me, will burn me. Including hair. I couldn’t breathe. It was impossible for me to breathe. I put my face to the dirt and inhaled, which helped a lot. I also rubbed dirt all over my arms and legs to stop the steam from penetrating the skin.

The woman sitting next to me, Cheryl, started freaking out before I did. She was crying hysterically and I felt so bad for her – I wanted to tell Will to let her out.

“Kayetay!”

Cheryl hopped up as fast as she could and stormed out.

Cheryl – “I have to leave.”

Will – “No you don’t!”

But she was gone.

Will – “See, people get scared. They have not conquered their fight or flight response. The brain stem tells them to flee, so they flee.”

My brain stem….

My brain stem is boiling in my brain!

The flaps shut and it started again. Searing my flesh, “Ohh hothothothothot.” I was supposed to sing. I could barely breathe, but I tried to sing. I felt moisture dripping off me – droplets dangling at the end of my nose, sweat leaching into my eyes. I had my tank top bunched up in my hand, I tried wetting my tank top with my sweat, and then holding it up to my nose to breathe through – it helped immensely.

“Kayatay!”

Another woman wanted to leave.

Will – “No, I’m sorry, you can’t.”

Will was blocking her exit. He sat naked, cross-legged in front of the door flaps. She was still seated, unable to move until he did.

Angela – “No, I HAVE to leave. NOW!”

Will – “That’s not possible. You’re staying.”

This went back and forth for a while.

She’s an Italian from Brooklyn and is able to get her way without backing down – I envied her for that. Will didn’t budge, but she found a way around him.

Then my roommate, Nicole, shot up and left. She mostly left out of spite cause Will was being a dick, but she did get burned pretty bad. She was very close to the pit and didn’t even have room to put her head close to the dirt.

Will – “That always happens, once one leaves, they all want to leave.”

The flaps closed and we continued. I got an image of hell in my head. Devil with his horns and beating a drum, flames engulfing me. The image was powerful, but I still stayed.

“Kayatay!”

I had the best seat in the inipi. I sat next to the door flaps so I could be the first person the cold air hits when they opened. I hate to admit that it was on purpose. I hung back while everyone went in front of me. The first one in the hut would have to stand the heat a few seconds longer than the last, and the last one in can easily get out. I wanted an easy exit. I didn’t care about getting air from the door flaps, I just wanted an exit.

The only reason I stayed for the whole torture was because I could easily get out.

After the inipi, the girls became jaded about Will being mean to Cheryl. Angela was fine and can take care of herself, but poor Cheryl started crying when we were all out of the inipi.

Me – “Oh Cheryl don’t cry over him, really? Come on now, it’s not worth it.”

I felt so protective of her. And she really did get burnt – on her arms, her legs…I thought I was burning while I was in there, but when I came out, I didn’t have a mark on me. I was red, but it went away after a few minutes. In all honesty, I don’t regret doing it and I’m really glad I stuck it out. And who know’s, maybe there really is something to it.

And that was our last full day there. Sometime during the week, we did a traditional Lakoda Indian tribal dance. It was pretty cool. Other than that, I listed most of what happened. If it’s not listed, it’s not worth writing about. Either that or I’m sick of writing this stinkin’ post. It’s been going on for days already and I just want it done.

It did it’s purpose of taking me back to Colombia. I got to relive my enlightenment by writing about it.

Okay, now this is crazy, but last night I had an Ayahuasca flashback. I was sleeping and woke up in my bed, turned my head toward my wall and there I saw a huge slithering snake crawling on my wall inches from my head. I jumped up and snapped on the light – gone.

I went to the bathroom and crawled back in bed and started reading the Bhagavad-gita. Dave bought it for me a few years ago for $5. Some guy was selling them at a concert and this was the first time for me reading it.

My enlightenment is very similar, if not the same, to the Bhagavad-gita. What they say in the book, about unmaterialized worlds, layers of awakening, ultimate truth, ego, illusions, giving, strength, growth, earth is fantasy – a shadow of reality. It’s all there in the book, what I experienced.

I guess I’m a Hindu now. It’s strange because I wanted so badly to believe in Catholocism, or Christianity but found it impossible to do – have faith? Faith in what exactly? The Bhagavad-gita doesn’t tell you to have faith, but to see the facts. To see what’s plainly in front of you, but you’re not awake to see. There is no faith, only Kharma.

Anyway, I want to read this dammed thing. It’s about 1000 pages, so I better get cracking.

Even if I sustain my enlightenment, what the hell am I supposed to do with it? What’s the point of it? Nobody wants to hear about it, and I don’t see the point in thinking about it.

Elightenment is not the world we see. We accept the world we are given as truth. When we sleep, we adapt to that dream world however crazy it may be and accept it as truth. Of course if you have lucid dreams, you know you’re asleep and now possess the power of manipulating what you dream.

Maybe that’s the point in learning about enlightenment – to become lucid. If we’re lucid, we can control our lives more. We can choose to end our suffering. We can find the strength it takes in letting go.

I don’t know. I need to publish this stinkin’ post already, it’s way too long.

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I made a video :)

I’m being lazy. Well no, not lazy, just busy with too much stuff to do. I want to play video games, I want to draw and paint, I want to massage the 20 clients that bought massage vouchers from me and I want to go out and drink with my friends I left behind while I went on the most amazing, insane adventure of my life.

I want to do all that, so writing about my trip at the moment is a no go. I did however make a music video while I was waiting for my plane at the airport. I don’t want to watch it. When I watch it I get unbelievably sad that it’s over and I’ll probably never see these people again. I fell in love with all of them. I fell in love with these people and fell in love with Ayahuasca.

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When life throws you lemons, wet the bed!

Rambo: First Blood Part II

Rambo: First Blood Part II (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dave invited his old friend from high school to hang out with us last Tuesday.  She’s married to a man who doesn’t let her go anywhere or do anything, and it’s up to her to stay at home watching the kids.  Her life sounds exactly like the one I’m desperately avoiding.

She snuck away for a few hours and met Dave and I at Jersey Joe’s.  And in those precious hours at Jersey Joe’s, she confessed that it was the most fun she ever had in her life.

Dave said to me – “Isn’t it crazy she said that?  We do this shit everyday and she said it was the best time of her life?”

Me – “I feel like we take our lives for granted.”

I haven’t blogged in a while.  I’ve been going out and playing video games, sleeping a good solid twelve hours each night (well, almost each night).

I had insomnia a few days ago.  I kept thinking about my upcoming trip to Columbia and how real the trip is starting to feel with each passing hour.  I have only hours left!  In the beginning it was only a vision, an idea – a cool experience to have.  But now the due date is approaching and it’s starting to feel so real that it’s unworldly and unfathomable for me to go.

These past few days I would experience large gaps of time through-out the day where I would forget I was going to Columbia.  But as soon as I remembered, that’s when I felt ice-cold spear-heads splintering into my chest cavity.  I’m not sure if other people have this problem, but whenever there is something in my future approaching that makes me scared shitless, I get jabs of icy shocks in my heart.

It happens when I quit jobs or dump boys – this is the first time I’m feeling it for a trip, though.

So anyway, I lied awake in bed thinking about Columbia and feeling jets of ice pulsing in and out of my ventricles.

“I’m going to be in the Amazon jungle soon, high as a kite from shamanic medicine.  Is this dangerous?  Will I die?”

Then I’d go on YouTube to watch other people’s experiences on similar shamanic retreats and calm myself down.

How tough am I?  I mean really?  This past week I’ve been sizing myself up, assessing my physical endurance and strength.  But when I make a muscle in my bicep, it feels soft.  My wrists are thin and dainty.  My feet flat and my spine crooked.  I’m in no shape to go Rambo if need be.  Did Rambo take place in Columbia?

The only thing that put my heart at ease was my friends telling me I’m going to have the time of my life.  It’s an experience of a lifetime and if I’m brave enough to do it, I should do it and I’ll most likely love it.

I hate hearing negativity from people.  I hate hearing that I’m crazy and it’s a bad idea and that I should stay home – I don’t want all that on my mind when I’m tripping out.  Everyone has been really supportive of me going except for one of my ex-friends who is hell-bent on continuing to make my life miserable.  She went behind my back and talked to my brother about my trip telling him how dangerous it is.  She know’s nothing about Columbia, she’s never been there, and I’m guessing she doesn’t know anyone that ever been there.  She know’s nothing about this trip, but decided to take it upon herself to make my brother believe that I’m going there to die.

My poor brother who wasn’t worried before, now suddenly had the urge to call me up in a panick and try to talk me out of going.  He wanted to take the little money he had saved and give it to me to compensate for my loss.

I was a nervous wreck before he called, so this was the last thing I wanted to hear.  She’s also telling my parents that I’m going to Columbia.  They think I’m going to Florida to visit a friend.  I know the truth would literally kill them, and she know’s that too, but she doesn’t care.

Just when I think her vengeance can’t reach any further, she takes it up a notch.  She also told my brother that I’m not talking to her – ME not talking to HER!  She hasn’t bothered calling me for months and now all of a sudden it’s me – again, as always, it’s me who refuses to speak to her and I’m the one being the indignant prick.  I’m so done with this nonsense – I’m above it and don’t need it in my life.

Well, I’m not kissing anyone’s ass ever again that’s for sure.  That goes for everyone – not just bosses and intolerant bitchy clients.  I’m actually learning to stick up for myself.  Fuck the world.  I have all that I need and will ever need.  And that is belief in one’s own self.

I’m too tired and stressed to write about this anymore.

I was in such a good mood yesterday because my little massage business is rocking out and Groupon contacted me wanting to add me to their featured listings.

I went against everyone telling me not to start my own business (even my own mother), to feeling like I could never go back to what I was doing before.  Waiting tables?  Working a register?  I will never go back.  Not ever.  I will never rely on any job or any boss ever again.  I will never kiss anyone’s ass for as long as I shall live lord hear my prayer.

I’m in love with my business – absolutely in love.  Everything about it I love.  But I always get a euphoric high when starting a new job, so I hope this isn’t the case.  Something tells me it’s not.

My client gave me $100 today for a one-hour massage.  Can you believe that?  $100!  After he left, I cranked open a window in my office and listened to the rain outside and the muffled music from the nearby restaurant – smells of food wafted in drenching my mouth in drool.  I sat down on the stool in front of my makeshift desk (tv tray with a tablecloth draped over it) where I keep my business phone and I set to work on recording a voicemail greeting.

I practiced a few times and gave it a go.  Nope, no good.  I gave it another try – still no.  This went on for 20 or 30 takes.  Speak, listen, delete, speak, listen, delete, speak, delete, speak, delete.  I finally accepted a greeting, hung up the phone, and seconds later my mother calls the business phone.

“What the fuck?”

She always calls.  Its unrelenting and extraordinary frustrating.  The shit she tells me has incalculable amounts of me wanting to punch something.  Well, she called my business phone, I pick up the receiver and hear dead silence.

Me – “Hello?  Hello hello?”

I pressed a bunch of buttons.

Me – “Hello?”

“Shit no, please oh god no.”

The call was gone.

I call her back quickly on my cell.  I’m immediately bombarded with questions.

Mom – “Where are you?  Why didn’t you answer the phone?  It’s raining, do you know how to work the defrost?”

I drank so much last night that I couldn’t drive home.  My friend had to give me a lift.  It was his fault anyway.  He kept buying me whipped cream vodka shots with baileys – they’re like little mudslide shots – so delicious.

So I was stuck driving my mom’s caddy today.

Me – “Yes mom I’ve driven a car before.”

Mom – “What about the wipers?”

Me – “YES, YES!”

Mom – “And what’s this about you going to Columbia?”

Shit she heard my voicemail.  She listened to the whole thing.  Shit shit think think!

Without missing a beat I say – “It sounds more interesting than telling people I’m going to Florida.  I figure this way when people call and hear I’ll be gone for a week, normally they will hang up and I’ll never hear from them again.  At least this way it sounds like I’m doing something very important and they’ll want to meet me and book an appointment just to hear about my trip.  It’s no big deal, I seen documentaries about it and read a lot of books.  I can wing it.”

My mom starts laughing!  I couldn’t believe my ears.  She not only bought it, but thought it was hilarious.  I never could tell what that woman finds amusing.  This one is definitely a shocker.

Me – “Ha ha, I try to make myself sound cool.”

After that humdinger, I text my ex-friend begging her not to tell my parents, but she didn’t listen.  She’s out to get me and won’t stop until I’m six feet under – which according to her, will be in the next few days.  The sad and horrible thing is, if I do manage to come back home alive and well, bursting with stories and wonderful experiences, she would resent me.  She would rather have me come back hurt and broken than for her to be wrong about this trip.  That’s how prideful she is.  Pride is a scary, powerful thing.  I don’t have much of it as you can plainly see.  I respect myself, but I’m not prideful.  She wishes ill will for me and doesn’t even know it.

That’s my life.

What else happened these past few weeks?  Nothing major.  Well, I did wet the bed one night.

Yeah that’s right – I wet the bed.  ME, Melanie, a 32-year-old beer guzzling adventure freak, wet her bed.

I came home drunk, tired from insomnia, and passed out cold for 12 hours straight.  It was towards the end of those twelve hours when I had the pee dream – you know the one, the one where you’re sitting on the toilet in your bathroom and a big friendly pit bull is wagging his nubby tail at you and nudging your leg trying to coax you into peeing?  Yeah, that dream.  It felt so good, but somehow wrong.  “Uhh, yeah, oh feels so good.  It feels good little doggie….Wait, why does this feel wrong?  And what’s with the dog?” I became aware of my dream and what was happening mid-stream.  I looked down at the dog and said to him, “Oh shit…”  I opened my eyes and felt for the damage.

I never wet the bed when I was a kid.  I never had to wear daipers to bed or be scared of sleeping over people’s houses.  No, I had to wait until I’m 32 and sound asleep on a memory foam mattress – One that absorbs EVERYTHING!

Hey, you wanted to know my life, so here it is.  How the hell did I get 60 followers with this nonsense?  Anyway, I probably won’t see you again until after I get back from  my “trip.”  I’ll journal everything, take pictures and video’s and capture the experience as best I can – just like I did for the Nepal post.  I don’t care what happens to me in Columbia, it’s not going to be nearly as bad as the hellish time I had in Nepal.

It’s the people you go with.  Going to new countries, to me, is awesome.  Adventure is awesome.  It’s the people you go with that can make or break your trip.

I’m going to go to the bathroom than go to bed.

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How I cope with a break down

The Chi Rho monogram from the Book of Kells is...

The Chi Rho monogram from the Book of Kells is the most lavish such monogram (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my last post I proclaimed that I was going to finish my business website.  That nothing was stopping me from doing it and it had to be completed.  Well, I didnt do it.  Not even close, didn’t even try.  Dave called me as soon as I finished typing and got me out to Billy O’s with no twist of my arm.

I ran into Matt at Billy O’s and asked him where Kristie and Bosco where.

Matt – “They don’t like you anymore.  They are avoiding you.”

He said it in a funny way, so I laughed.

Me – “Oh well, what can you do.”

I take a long swig of my beer.

He then went on to tell me why Kristie doesn’t want to see me anymore, and it made sense.  Matt is a great speaker and communicator.

Matt – “It makes her sad when you tell her you can’t do something with her and then she looks on facebook and see’s you at a wedding with Dave, the guy she hates most in this world.”

Me – “I know but he’s my friend.  I can’t just ditch him for her.  What kind of person would that make me?”

Matt – “I understand.”

Me – “It hurts me that she’s doing this.”

Matt – “It’s a sucky situation.”

Me – “Everyone leaves me.  All my friends leave me.  It’s like, what’s even the point of anything anymore if I don’t have anyone to share it with?”

And that’s when I cracked.  I covered my mouth with my hand and started crying – not just tears welling up, but actually sputtering words and streaming tears.  I was absolutely fine seconds before, but my own words got to me because they’re true.  And said out loud makes them more real and felt.

Matt – “Oh come here.  It’s okay.”

He gave me a big hug.

Matt – “Just so you know, I will never leave you.  You’ll always have me.”

 I felt better after hearing that.  And his hug was amazing.  I love hugs.

The crying episode only lasted seconds – I don’t like to draw things out.  I let things out in one big burst and become immediately soothed when people comfort me.

I stayed at Billy’s till closing and had a good time the rest of the night.

I’ve been battling with this feeling of having nothing to live for, nothing to look forward to.  Even if I accomplish everything I set out to do, what’s the point?  There’s no point or happiness to anything.  Only beer and the bar.  And occasional hugs from Matt.

Later that night Matt called me to do a suicide check.

Matt – “Are you sure you’re okay?”

Me – “Oh yeah I’m fine.  I was referring to other people when I said what’s the point in living.  What’s the point in living their lives if all they do is push other people away?  That’s what I meant.”

Matt – “Ah okay, gotcha.”

I am 100% NOT suicidal.  Will NEVER be suicidal.  I never thought about it nor condone the act.  There is always something that can be done.  And I believe life is beautiful with bountiful love and gorgeous sunsets.  Suicide is selfish and cowardly.

I’m just going through a tough time is all.  I’m okay.

All that happened on the 24th, ten days ago.  I ended up finishing my website last Tuesday, two days ago.  I did it all in one sitting and it only taken a couple hours. 

I had to write about myself in the ABOUT page, and was flummoxed on to what to put.  On other massage therapists ABOUT page, they list all their credentials and training.  They make themselves out to be the omniscient gods of massage.  Snobby know-it-all millionaire therapists holding onto their cocktail wieners with a toothpick.  Daintily fingering their monical’s with one pinkie in the air.

I thought about what I can write about myself and came up with this:

Hi I’m Melanie!  I’m a graduate of CCMT.  I graduated middle of my class with no honors or achievements.  I taken a class in hot stone massage because my last job required it.  I’m horrible at pregnancy massage.  I don’t like administering deep tissue massage because I hate strenuous manual labor due to fear of exerting myself.  My hobbies are Netflix and spider solitaire.  I drink like a fish and my friends don’t speak to me anymore.  My highest achievement is that I can eat a hotdog underwater.

That about sums it up.  On my ABOUT page I focused not on my massage abilities, but on my joy of traveling and experiencing different things.  It sounds pretty cool and I’m happy with it.  I’m a great bullshitter, a real A in the hole.

Anyway, I finished my website and went to the bar and ran into friends I haven’t seen in a while.  I massaged both of them yesterday at my new office and made $120 in two hours.  Once the money was in my hands, I felt powerful and rich.

‘Holy shit $120 in two-hours?  This might stinkin’ work!’

I can honestly say that I love my new office.  I set it up perfect and don’t mind sitting there answering phones.  It’s my own business and I have all the answers to people’s questions.  I don’t need to relay messages or do secretarial stuff for others for free.  It’s bringing me closer to peace of mind and independency.  But again, what’s the point?

I just have to take one day at a time.  Slow down to a stroll and live life full measure.  I might be a small person, but my actions can be greater than me.  I’ll focus on my actions more.  Maybe that will give me something to look forward to.  ‘What great and many things will I do today?  Who will be in my radius to feel the benefits of my great and many actions?’

It’s the fourth of July and I’m laying in bed.  Unshowered in my old sweaty pajama’s.  I’m supposed to go to a fire pit tonight at a friends house, and I really should go, but I’m so damned tired and scared of who might be there.  Dave’s going and bringing Heather.  They are back together.  She’s just so God-awful annoying and all she does is nag Dave.  I hate listening to it.

Dave told a friend in secrecy that he’s only dating her again to make me jealous.  Poor Dave.  He should know by now that I don’t get jealous.  He can hurt me in other ways though, I’m not invulnerable to feelings of hurt.

I’m too tired to put up with people today, but I can’t escape it.  I went out last night and drank myself into oblivion, so today I am reset.  Tired and can sleep guilt-free. 

I had to run an errand with a friend earlier today and told her to wake me up with a phone call otherwise I will sleep till 2.  She called at 1 and I was still sleeping and groggy when I answered.

Her party started 18 minutes ago.  I better take a shower.

Two days ago I was in bad shape.  I was searching the internet for something to get me excited and happy again.  You remember how you felt as a kid when Christmas was approaching?  Pure bliss mixed with impatience.  Happiness, radiance, twinkling lights, snowmen, hot chocolate, loved one’s.  I want that feeling again.  I want the wonderland and the whole shebang.

I found a website offering people the chance to live amongst the Lakota Indians and take part in their rituals and ceremony’s.  They have a re-birthing ceremony where I’ll go into a small little hut and sweat my brains out, inhale some magic smoke, see spirits and shit and then come out a new and improved individual.  I’ll also be experimenting with yopo nuts and some other herbal hallucinogens.  We’ll be sitting around camp fires passing around a peace pipe, banging drums and watching ritualistic dancing.  It’s a mind trip and supposed to be cleansing and very spiritual.

It takes place in Columbia, South America and is the most authentic, traditional place available for white people to experience ancient shamanic customs.  So what do I do?  I sign myself up for it, that’s what I do.  I leave August 3rd, only a mere four weeks away.  I’ll see if I can capture some video for you guys.

I don’t know what I’m getting myself into now….

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Laconia

I saw a guy get killed last Friday on a motorcycle.  He was on his way to Laconia like the rest of us when an suv swerved into the wrong lane and hit him head-on.  Dave and our gang were the first people to arrive on the scene.

In the movies you often see one guy barking out orders and sh]]><![CDATA[ooing people away, "give him room people, get back and give him room.  Move away, there's nothing to see here." 

Well, there aren't people like that in real life.  In real life, a swarm of oglers closed in tightly encircling the downed biker.  A man in the center was hunched over administering CPR.  The parametics have not yet arrived.  The onlookers had their arms crossed, looking down at the man than looking up towards the sky – careening their necks for any sound of sirens, shifting their eyes away from the blood and then back again.

Dave – "I don't want to see this."

Me – "I don't want to see it either."

Dave – "Lets try to go around."

The man administering CPR gave up, stood up and walked away.  The crowd surrounding the biker started to disperse – nothing more to see.  Dave and I inched passed them on our bike.  We passed the parked cars and a crying woman in hysterics clutching her phone and telling us, or anyone that will listen, "an ambulance is on the way.  They said they're on their way."  We inched passed a bruised motorcycle laying flat on its side, we skirted around a black dented suv with its driver sitting inside crying into his cell phone saying he didn't know what happened and his diabetes made him pass out.  His cell phone drenched with tears.

I was there with Dave, Dave's dad and his Dads friends.  I felt safe traveling with them, relaxing and enjoying the scenery.  Before I seen any accidents, I passed a car that had "WOOSH" on its license plate and another that said "UH OH."  I'm a bit superstitious and prayed to God those plates weren't directed at me.  And they weren't.  I'm glad it wasn't me is all I can say.

The only free thing in life is God's grace and there's no grace in getting hit by a car at 70 MPH.  Four people died that day on bikes.  They all got hit by careless drivers.

That was the start of my trip.  My very first experience in Laconia bike week.

It's now Thursday.  I got home on Monday and I'm still shaken up from everything.

I actually don't feel like writing.  I have so much shit to do that I'm not doing anything at all.  I'm laying here in my shorts and T-shirt during the first summer heat wave with my laptop scorching the tops of my thighs.  I'm sweating and want a beer.  I want a beer but I don't feel like leaving the house.

Kristie is pissed at me, a really good friend of mine gave birth yesterday, I need to decorate my new office with spa crap and build a website, but I can't do anything.  I'm incapacitated.  Matt is also upset with me.  I don't even care.  I just want to crawl into a hole and stay there in a dark hazy place.

Kristie is mad that I'm spending a lot of time with Dave.  She stopped calling me.  I went over her house yesterday to pick up some stuff and Matt and Bosco were over there.  I stayed for a few drinks, listened to Kristie and Bosco tell me how bad Dave is for me and I need to drop him.  Everyone hates Dave, everyone hates me – we go together in that way.  We are both rejects.  Rejection from society created the X-Men so look out world!

Seriously though, why do people have to hate and reject others?  It keeps happening to me over and over.  Matt is mad at me for not hanging out with him all the time.  People keep taking and taking.  I feel so drained.

It's already June 21.  This month is going by so fast that I can't keep up.  I don't even know what I did with my time seeing that I haven't blogged in a while.  Blogging keeps me linear and in-check so no time slips by unnoticed, but this month its gone mostly unnoticed.  I need to regroup.  Clear my head.  I'm hoping a trip to Rhode Island will help.  Another drunk on the beach at midnight mini-vacation.

Anyway, Laconia was crazy.  Everyone had a bike, everyone sporting leather and a tough-guy (or girl) weathered look.  Even the girls looked bad ass.  I would say that women made up 25% of the bikers – not including the ones riding bitch.  I was surprised to see so many handling big Harley hogs.

The atmosphere and the people got to me, so next thing I know I'm wearing leather and donning a bandana.

I’m vulnerable to suggestion.  Highly influenced.  When in Rome do as the Romanians do is what I always say.

They had an electric chair in Laconia, so I strapped Dave up and electrocuted him.

When in Rome, get electrocuted.

Oh yeah I’m super cool.

Dave found his very own port-o-potty.

A random woman came up to us and told us that Dave looks like he can be an Abercrombie and Fitch model.  Then she was shocked to hear we’re just friends. 

Lady – “But he’s so cute!  And he obviously likes you.”

Me – “Yeah….”

Lady – “You know the best relationships start out with being good friends.”

This made Daves ears perk up.  He loves hearing stuff like this.

Dave – “I know, I tried telling her that.”

I cringed.  I’m a jerk.

Just because he’s good looking doesn’t mean I should date him – looks are NEVER a factor in any relationship I have.

Dave loves when people mistake us for a couple.  We strolled into a bar, sat down and the bartender rang us up as “bar couple” on the slip.  This made Dave so happy that he took a picture of it and sent it to me so I have it too.

And this is what I do with it:

I put it on my damn blog is what I do with it. 

I had the meatloaf dinner in case you’re wondering.  I ate every last bite.

We drove up Mt Washington on his bike. 

After seeing Mt Washington, we drove down the mountain and grabbed lunch at a pizza place.  That’s when Dave confessed that he wanted to propose to me at the summit but chickened out.

Me – “Oh shit.  I don’t really want to get married anyway.”

I felt like a shit for most of the weekend. 

I like Dave, but I don’t want to get married.  I have too much stuff to do.  I have too many places to go, goals to accomplish.  It takes very little to get me sidetracked – and I mean very little.  I can only imagine what marriage would do to me.  I make a horrible girlfriend, I can’t date properly – I can’t even hold down friends let alone boyfriends.

I like my quiet space.  My reticent private time where there are no takers or talkers.  Just me and my moment.  Peace and rest without someone pawing all over me.  Sometimes I don’t mind the pawing – I like it, but then there are days like this where I feel so far behind.  Being pawed at will only push me away further.  Falling off the bar stool, that feeling of unbalance.  Should I steady myself or save the beer in my hand?  I’ll always save the beer.  Beer first, then me.  This is my me time.

  If you look closely it looks like I’m holding my nose and picking it.

We had an awesome time together.  Dave’s easy and fun to be with.  I like to think I am too.

I had a hard time on the bike ride home.  I had a client scheduled for 4pm, so we had to rush.  Dave kept a steady 90 mph down the highway while I held on with white-knuckled fear and contemplated death.

I almost died once a few years ago.  I ate an entire loaf of Tastefully Simple’s beer battered bread with a ton of sour cream with the Tastefully Simple dill dip packet mixed in.  I ate the entire packet of dill and the whole loaf of bread and felt sick for five days straight.  I ended up in the E.R going in and out of consciousness.  I thought I was going to die and wasn’t afraid.  I accepted it.  I put my head down and let myself drift off only to wake up again looking at a perplexed, befuddled doctor hooking an IV into my arm.

I thought about that time at the hospital when I accepted death, and compared it to speeding down the highway on a motorcycle.  Why be terrified on the motorcycle when at the hospital I was so accepting?  I pondered this for about 3 hours and couldn’t figure it out.  Maybe I was so tired and in pain at the hospital, that I wanted to give up.  There’s peace when you give up.  Let go and let God.  However, letting go has never been easy for me.  I still own and wear a sweatshirt from when I was 12 years old.

For four hours straight I held on to the back of Dave’s motorcycle for dear life.  I clenched my eyes shut as we slid in and out of traffic, I peed myself a little. 

My favorite uncle died on a motorcycle, I witnessed a guy get smashed to pieces, WHOOSH and UH OH – WHOOSH and UH OH!

Eventually my mind became separate and floated above me.  It watched me from a distance.  It watched Dave and I moving in synchronized rhythm to the sway of the tree’s and cluster of cars.  Breathe in then out, breathe in then out.  Water drips off an oar in the moonlight.

A honey bee finds his flower – silence. 

Then I’m taken back in to the humming and the whirring, the buzzing between my legs.  Daves long blonde hair sneaking out beneath his helmet.  A woman next to us singing along to the radio.  I’m back and the terror didn’t follow completely.  I let it go.

My client cancelled.  I would’ve made it in time but she cancelled anyway.

Today I went to see my friend in the hospital with her new baby girl, then went to my new office to survey what it still needs and what more I can set up. 

I unpacked new sheets, set up a alarm clock, two ambient lamps, my stereo, my “desk” which is nothing more than a tv tray.  When I was done with that, I crawled on top of my massage table and laid there staring up at the ceiling – so cliché, I know, but I’m a master at staring up at ceilings or windows, or anything for that matter.  I sometimes stare at floor tiles trying to make out shapes.  I stare at wood grain on doors, scanning them for faces.  Anything with an incoherent mosaic of lines, splotches, or dots, I can almost always make out a face.

Today I made out four faces.

The outlets looked as though they seen a ghost.  All scared looking with their eyes big and mouths in a circle.  I stared at them wondering if they were trying to tell me something.

Outlet number 1 – “I don’t know about this business venture.  It’s a little crazy.”

Outlet number 2 – “Don’t worry she know’s what she’s doing.  Have faith in her, she’s smart.”

I was zoning out and talking to outlets telling me that I’m smart.

Outlet number 3 – “She just needs a little encouragement that’s all.”

Outlet number 4 – “She doesn’t have anyone to tell her what to do.  That may not be a good thing.”

Me – “I can do it.  I can totally do it.”

I rolled off the table and drove home.  I turned on Netflix and started watching Merlin.  And here I am still laying here. 

Shit….

 And now your moment of Zen:

I made this video in 10 minutes while Dave was in the bathroom showering.

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Enduring the High’s and Low’s of the Annapurna Circut – Melanie Style

Nepali sadhu performing a blessing. Français :...

Nepali sadhu performing a blessing. Français : Sadou à Kathmandu Nepal avril 2004 ‪Norsk (nynorsk)‬: Heilag mann i Katmandu i Nepal, med pannemerke, symbolmønstra klede, rosenkrans rundt halsen og handa forma i ein mudra. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m at Cheshire Coffee and I already downed one tall latte without uttering a single word into my blog.  Instead of writing, I found out from an anagram website that my full name spells out “Risen Lip To Chemist Ear,” which is strange because I want to be a chemist.

I want to write about my month long trip to Nepal, but the thought of reliving the experience by painstakingly capturing every saturated morsel with intimate choice words, describing the full actuality of what I endured last month, gives me high anxiety.

I shouldn’t of had that latte.  I shouldn’t order another……

Those first few sentences taken me about 15 minutes to write.  Words are not flowing easily today.

First off I need to make clear that this is not an Annapurna trekking travel guide.  It’s not a travel guide because I was lost half the time having no idea where I was, or what I was doing.  I just followed the trail and forged ahead, stopping at tea houses along the way and being grateful for a place to rest my pack – not catching the name of the tea houses, blurring villages and days together.  So yeah, don’t rely on this as a travel guide.  It’s just a random girls rendition of her 20 day trek.

Secondly you should know that I’m not a traveler.  I’m a homebody.  So much so that I still live at home with my folks (at the ripe old age of 32) and enjoying the solitude of video games and spider solitaire.  I’m not a trekker either.  I go on occasional hikes down the street to Sleeping Giant but I never hiked for more than 2 hours at a time.  I don’t exercise.  I did the P90X workout for a week and stopped because I was already satisfied with the results.

I’m a certified applicator of body lotion (AKA massage therapist), a denizen at the local watering hole, a dreamer, a ruminator, a writer, a lazy loafer and smoker of electronic cigarettes.

I’m anything but a traveler.  My body is stoic unless it’s wriggling around in an attempt to dance.

So that’s the framework.  The sketch of my personal design.

I prepared for my twenty day trek up a mountain by watching the Japanese anime series, Naruto.  That little ramen noodle lover doesn’t know when to quit.  I thought that by sitting on my ass and letting Naruto inspire me would make a good, reliable substitution for any real body exerting exercises.

Bushy Brow would be most upset with me if he knew about this (Naruto Character).

I would lay in my nice warm comfy bed watching Naruto on Netflix, get up to go to the bathroom, lay back in bed and think to myself, “pretty soon I’ll have to go outside in the cold to pee.  Pretty soon I won’t have TV.  Next time I open my eyes, I’ll be on a plane to Katmandu.  Pretty soon.”

And then I was.

“I’ll take it one day at a time and I’ll do fine, just fine.  No expectations, just take it all in and hopefully enjoy it.  Think Naruto.  Think Indiana Jones.”

I’m going to abbreviate the names of my fellow traveler’s because that’s what I notice most blogger’s doing.  I don’t see the harm in using first names, but I’ll err on the side of caution and use only their first initials.

I went on this journey with four other girls.  The one who invited me, K, is my close friend.  Her father drove us to the Newark airport and saw us off.  The plane took us to Brussels, then Delhi and finally Katmandu where my intestines screamed at me from the bowels of despair.

We taken Jet Airlines the whole way there.  It’s one of India’s primary airlines, so naturally they serve nothing but spicy Indian food.  I like Indian food, so I was all for it.  Completely unaware that Indian airline food is the same as having a caffeine enima.  My stomach started cramping up and gurgling after the first few bites.

I knew that Katmandu was the start of a new bathroom experience for me (squatting toilets and no toilet paper), but I thought for sure their airport would have clean working western toilet’s aplenty, as most airports do.  Nope.  At least not at the arrival terminal.  And before I could use the bathroom, I had to go through customs first.  I was at the end of a very long line of weary, disheveled travelers languidly lurching forward awaiting their turn.

When I finally got to the bathroom stalls, I found one that had the word “foreigners” sloppily scrawled on the door.  It was an upright western toilet made of plastic, like a toy toilet, and it was hooked up to hoses with faucets and there was a bucket of water next to it.  After I did my business, it wouldn’t flush.  So I tried pouring the bucket of water into the tank and trying again – it barely worked.  I gave up and left it.  For the rest of my trip, I actually sought out the squatting toilets because they were more sanitary and guaranteed to flush unless they were frozen solid.

Here is a quick tutorial of how the Nepalese people go to the bathroom:

The squatting toilets are essentially a hole in the ground with a nice white porcelain bowl and trim around it to place your feet.  They come equipped with a large bucket of water with a scooper.  After doing your business, you take up some water with the little scooper in your right hand and pour it down your backside, and with your left hand, you scrub yourself.  It’s different and sounds gross, but the only thing that makes it gross is not having soap or water to wash your hands with afterward.  This is why the Nepalese find it disrespectful to eat with their left hand.

I left the restrooms feeling semi-relieved and joined K near customs.  We found our luggage and got ushered outside where we waited for our fellow comrade, S, who was arriving around the same time as us.  We united with S and our journey into Katmandu was officially underway starting with our first glimpse of its streets from the back of a cramped taxi cab.

I love stuff like this – new experiences – new places, new customs, new environments no matter how chaotic, dirty and unpredictable – I absolutely love it.  Watching our skilled driver weave in and out of traffic, taking hairpin turns, millimeters away from hitting pedestrians, dogs, yaks (yes yaks shared the narrow roads!), it was all mesmerizing and brilliant.  Even the piles of garbage overflowing the gutters, rivers and abandoned dumpsters looked like mosaics to my inexperienced, unoffending eyes.

I was elated to be there.  I was ready for this.

We secured our place in the hostel, stretched our legs on its roof and soaked in the sun.

Day two:  Happy Holi

It was our luck to land in Kathmandu during an immense Hindu holiday called Holi.  It’s a religious spring festival celebrated by throwing water balloons and powdered color at people.  It was insane.  I mean really, insane!

It started off innocent enough with K and I getting pelted by water balloons (the water inside the balloons dyed with color) by little girls in the street who sheepishly struck us while giggling.

Me – “Oh no, here it comes.  Here it starts.”

At first I was apprehensive, but the little giggling girls had their sights set upon us, so I resigned myself to the onslaught.  “If you’re going to do it, than do it.”  I stopped walking and threw up my arms.

I ran back to my hostel and found amnesty on the rooftop where I stumbled upon our host of the hostel mixing dye into water and filling up balloons.

“Happy Holi.”  He says to me with a wide grin.  Then offered to load me up with his “ammo” to pelt people with.

Our view from the roof…..

 Targets…

Me

 We stayed on our rooftop for a few hours until we decided to brave the color splattered streets of Kathmandu.  We headed for Durbar square where the real action was happening.  Little did we know that foreigners get the brunt of the attack – girls especially.  We were five American girls just asking for it.  We had to run.  There weren’t any little girls doing the onslaught this time, it was young men with big smiles and outstretched hands loaded with caked powder to rub all over our faces and arms and in some cases, chests.  Then there was the attack from the rooftops.  Bags dropping – not just dropping, but ferociously thrown at us.  I ran in my squishy, slippery flip-flops that wanted to skid off my feet.

“It’s all in good fun.  They don’t mean any harm.”  I fully believed this, and still do.  That thought alone was keeping me from turning that fun holiday into a nightmare.

We arrived at the square.  MADNESS!  Complete madness.  The square was essentially a huge night club, only it was outside during the day.  American dance music blared, little Nepalese men crowded in the center of the square dancing with each other. Not many women faced the hectic danger of the center square for fear of getting groped or getting kicked in the head by a crowd surfer.  It seemed a bit homo-erotic with guys wrapped around one another, sitting on each others shoulders.

We kept to the outside brim of the moshing and danced with a few well-behaved locals.  I warmed myself up with the alian environment and rolled with it.

This was the only video I could find.  I was there!

A huge fire hose been brought out and the crowd really went nuts.  Piling on top of each other, pushing, just to get squirted with the hose.  I didn’t get it, but I don’t get a lot of things.

We grew tired and hungry so we ate lunch and tried to find our way back to the hostel.  This is when the day started turning, our patience waning.  M, a girl from our group, almost slapped a little boy for throwing water balloons at us after we pleaded for him not to.  I felt the rage emanate off her as she ran over to him to get even.  I couldn’t watch.  She may have pushed him, but strained herself not to hit him.

We got lost on our way back, got cold and drenched once again but safely made it back to our domicile in one piece.

Here is the view from our hostel rooftop.  At night I would go up there to listen to my Ipod and dance.  I was the only one on top of their roof dancing in all of Kathmandu and it felt awesome.

 There were so many dogs laying in the streets.  This one was apparently engrossed in a newspaper.

Day 3:  Shopping for trekking supplies in Kathmandu and getting our permits and pictures taken.

On this day, I was a zombie.  Completely dazed and confused.  I felt like I floated through that day in a hazy funk.

Day 4:  Pokarah

We left a few of our bags locked up in our hostel.  We wouldn’t be needing everything we brought, such as extra clothes and books.  We would return to them after the trek.  We arranged for a bus ticket to Pokarah through the hostel and off we went on a wild bumpy ride.

The scenery was fantastic.  Tiers upon tiers of rice paddies with a mountainous backdrop.

It was beautiful until we reached Besisahar.  That’s where the real Nepalese life struck us in our faces.  Unflinching in its harshness.  Litter piled the streets, some of it on fire.  People made homes out of whatever shelter they could find.  Slabs of metal for rooftops held down by old wornout tires.  Homemade shacks stacked on top each other brimming with poverty.  I couldn’t turn away.  I felt guilty for staring out from the safety of the moving bus.  I wanted to see what was inside those rustic little domiciles.  I wanted to peer inside their lives, see their possessions, their food rations, what they did in their free time – everything.  I wanted to see and know, but all I could do was drive past them and stare like an ogling, snooping buffoon.  If I were them, I would hate me.  Staring at them while they brushed their teeth – so many people were outside brushing their teeth.

We arrived at our destination, got our packs off the roof of the bus and sat down for our first meal of dal baht.  Dal baht is a traditional Nepalese dish consisting of rice, lentil soup and curried vegetables.  It’s not always savoury, but it’s filling and you can get as much of it as you want.

After lunch, we filtered some water, checked in at TIMS and started day one of the circuit.

This is when I became nervous.  I was actually doing it – a 20 day trek up a mountain.  Within the first few steps I taken with my pack, I was wondering just what the hell I was getting myself into.  My Naruto inspiration fizzled away leaving me with my two wobbly legs and a 20 pound pack balanced on my scoliosised curved back.  I was following four other girls equipped with world traveling knowledge and all were physically prepared.

I kept my uneasiness to myself, stuck in my earbuds and played my Ipod.  Hoping for the best.

We hiked for four hours that day.  It turned out to be relatively easy for me except for when I drank all my water and was dying of thirst.  K and S lent me some of theirs, but I was afraid to drink it all for fear it wouldn’t be enough.  When we taken our first break at a little tea house, I splurged and ordered a cold bottle of water – I wasn’t planning on drinking bottled water because it’s hard to recycle out there, but I couldn’t help myself.  I drank my fill and felt 100 percent better.

We trekked a little while longer and arrived at our first scheduled stop.  A small village called Ngadi.  It was very rustic.  The villagers living there were practically all tea house owners.  It’s how they make their living.  Smiling faces came up to us offering us a place to stay and food to eat.

We settled for this place:

It was built with drafty plywood, but our host was a cute young man with a trusting smile.  He apologized for the simple accommodations.

We settled in and made ourselves at home.  We ordered our dal baht and waited 3 hours until the women handpicked what they needed from the garden and made everything from scratch – making me feel like a rich, greedy foreigner buying up slave labor for pennies.

While we waited for our meal, I taken my first solar shower.  A solar shower is essentially a big tub of water in a black barrel on top of an outside, enclosed, shower room.  It was cold.  Afterwards, I joined the girls at the plastic picnic table to get acquainted with mynew travel companions.

There wasn’t much to do but sit and talk to each other.  For the first time since we met, there was no distractions, nothing to do, but talk.  And that’s when I realized that I had absolutely nothing in common with anyone.

They are travel fanatics.  They talk about little else but travel.  “I’ve been there, I’ve done that,” sort of talk.  I been nowhere and done nothing.  I had nothing to contribute.  Not only that, but I still live at home and I sensed they judged me for it.  I’m really sensitive and can pick up vibes easily and could tell it would be hard for these girls to give me a chance.

I started feeling lonely, but felt that if I was there on my own, I wouldn’t feel lonely.  I could relax and enjoy myself more if I was by myself and let the sweet Nepali family serve me their food and tell me about their lives.  But that wasn’t the case.  I had to get along with these people, make a strong attempt at least – and hope their first impressions of me didn’t ruin things.  I knew it was going to be a struggle.

I wasn’t prepared for this part of the trip.  Usually it’s no question that I get along with everyone.  I mean, I love people – all people.  But I’m not educated in worldly knowledge and I barely know my way around a travel guide-book.  So there I was – my true fragile colors exposed to the harsh eyes of my new professional traveling comrades.

The view from my bed.

I wanted to escape in a bottle of beer and a plume of cigarette smoke.

I kept staring at the little bit of art taped to the wall next to my bed.  It was cut out from a childrens book.

 Dinner was served.

This pic was taken the day before day one of the trek with B and M while the fellowship felt fresh and promising.

It was the end of Day One.  I already had two blisters on my pinkie toes, and my legs were sore.  I curled on top of my wooden bed with its thin mattress pad, snuggled myself under the sleeping bag and prayed.  It was cold that first night.  Heat escaped our little makeshift encampment.  Cold air swirled itself inside.  I clutched my pillow and shivered myself to sleep.

Day Two:

Journal entry:

I’m still lying in bed.  I got practically no sleep.  Mostly due to the cold.  I woke up to the sound of goats bleating and kids talking.  I’m still sore from trekking.  I have a tender body.  Tender and sinewy – bony in places but with a pouch for beer storage.  My hips jut into the plywood beneath me.  I’m an unseasoned adventurer sitting atop a doyley of white roses.  I’m still asleep.

I hiked for five hours after writing that entry and kept the pace well enough.  The girls warmed up to me again and I felt good, really good.  We shared a room with five narrow beds that night.   Had a nice hot shower, even some beer.  It was a good day, day two.  I washed my clothes in a spigot outside like a real Nepalese – brushed my teeth with unfiltered water.  I think we were in Chamche, 1,385 meters up.  I could handle 1,385.

Day 3:

Journal entry:

We got stuck on the road for a few hours while the military blew it up to widen it.  It sounded like a war zone.  The ground shook, dust flew up all around us and I prayed for no avalanches.

I’m doing fine except for my blisters.  I can barely walk because of them.  If it wasn’t for my blisters, I would be bulldozing this trek.  And my legs are sore.  The more I rest them, the more sore they become.  I feel stronger though, my pack feels lighter.

I’m starting to talk to myself as I trek.  Telling myself words of encouragement.  Tomorrow will be the true test of strength.  8 hours of trekking up the steepest ascent we had encountered yet.  I’m worried.  Very worried.

Day 4:

Day 4 broke me.  It broke my altitude limit – I witnessed its true effect on me.  I don’t know how far we ascended, don’t recall the name of the village we stayed at or its altitude, but I do know that my body didn’t want to cooperate.  We trekked for 7 and a half hours all uphill.  It kept getting colder and colder until finally it was snowing and the girls were going even faster up the mountain to escape the cold before it got dark.

I had to take breaks – lots of them.  And even after my breaks, any small exertion fatigued me.  I wanted to sit on a bench and let the snow cover me.  ‘Let me sleep on the bench.  Just leave me.  I’ll find my way to the tea house, but leave me for now.’

My fatigue was indescribable.  But I kept getting up and moving.  Slowly up the mountain in the snow.

I came to a long narrow bridge.  Passed the narrow bridge was yet another steep ascent up to an old rustic village with stone steps – if only I could get up to that village, I knew I would be okay.  I spotted a mule train making its way down the narrow trail on the other side of the bridge.  If I didn’t cross the bridge before the mules got to it, I would be stuck there for at least 15 minutes waiting for them to pass – holding everyone up even longer than I already have.  I had to get across that bridge first, which meant I had to run.  In my unbearably fatigued state, I ran across that bridge as fast as I could and made it to the other side before the mules ran me over.  I walked slowly up the ascent and made it to the village.

K was standing there waiting for me and told me we had to run fast to meet up with the others before it got dark, so I found myself running again.  I ran through the welcoming stone village.  I ran and didn’t stop until we saw two of our girls on the trail, both of them afraid to move ahead because of a drunk, bumbling man walking aimlessly around in circles and falling face first in the snow.  I wasn’t afraid of the man, he was helpless, but I enjoyed the few seconds of break time before we scooted past him and met up with the rest of the group at the check-in point.

That night we played bananagrams and drank whiskey – the whiskey hit me and was a bad idea, but I felt good and happy that I made it to the tea house instead of sleeping on the snowy bench outside.  I even made the girls laugh with my funny accent impressions, making them warm up to me even more.  I shared a room with B and S that night.  It was so cold that night.  I stuck on my instant body warmers and curled up under my sleeping bag and complimentary warm blanket.

Day 5:

Day 4’s altitude fatigue was nothing compared to day 5’s.  I found myself trekking alone for most of the day.  No one in sight.  I trekked through a forest, occasionally coming across prayer flags and prayer stone stacks.  I would’ve been lost if it wasn’t for the fresh layer of snow with a nice boot marked trail to lead me.  I don’t remember much of this day, only that I was tired beyond repair.  My legs having a will of their own and not listening to my commands.

I felt and looked like this dog…

I finally caught up to the girls for lunch at a tea house.  This was a turning point in my journey.  I decided to get a porter for the following day to take my shit and trek it straight to Manang.  I would be going through lower Pisang – the easy, four hour route instead of taking the ascent through upper Pisang which would tack on a few extra hours.  I told them this over our dal baht lunch and felt I was letting everyone down, or that maybe I didn’t want to trek with them anymore.  They suggested that I take the porter with me for the higher ascent route because without having to carry my pack, the trek would be manageable. But I insisted that I go it alone and take the low road with a porter – which was the ultimate blow separating me from the pack.  And once again I managed to tear open that gulf between us.  It opened with a fresh sting.  There was me, and then there was them.

When we got to the hostel, I shared a cold, icy room with K and felt she had a snippy tartness towards me.

When we got inside our room, I flung my achy body on the plank bed and curled myself up into a ball and started whimpering – I would have whimpered whether or not anyone was there to witness it, but K was there to see it and it annoyed her.  That marked the downward spiral of the rest of my trip.

Me – “It’s cold.”

K – “It’s not that cold.”

The way she said it was icier than the room.

At dinner she announced to everyone that I invited myself on the trip.  That I heard she was going and said, “That sounds like fun, I’ll go, too.”

That hurt, I mean really hurt.  My brain was foggy, my body completely shredded and I couldn’t comprehend for the life of me why she would say something like that.  I mentioned to the girls just moments before that I originally wanted to go to Thailand, but ended up in the Himalayas and for some reason, that flippant comment set her off.  I’m not taking the time to understand why.  I don’t think I’ll ever know.  But from that moment on, I felt I was walking on eggshells with her.  Everything I said or did was wrong.

And I didn’t invite myself on the trip!  I still have the text messages to prove it thanks to my trusty Iphone with its immense memory.

That night I curled up in bed wearing two long underwear, a t-shirt and three warm long sleeve shirts underneath my down jacket.  I had a very uneasy feeling of regret.  But I still managed to fall asleep easy thanks to my newly formed altitude fatigue.

Day 6:

I woke up with a splitting headache.  I woke up too early, maybe around 4:30, and couldn’t fall back to sleep.  My entire head throbbed like it was in a vice.  I’m not prone to headaches, so I knew something was off.

It eventually stopped throbbing, so I brushed it off as dehydration and tried to take a shower without getting wet.  Shivering coldness would follow after getting wet, so I opted for the washcloth method of bathing.  We all ate breakfast together without any fuss – actually, I barely touched my breakfast since I already felt full (being yet another symptom of altitude sickness).  I got my trusty old porter and headed up to Manang all by my lonesome.

The four-hour trek to Manang was a lofty one.  All even terrain with nice views.  Still though, I was fatigued.  I pushed through it and followed in my porters tracks who kept an even, viable pace.  We made it to Manang just shy of the 4 hour mark. I paid him and watched him jog away.  I was left standing there with my pack, too tired to move.

All I wanted to do was sleep.  Sleep and ruminate until I found peace of mind, which shouldnt’ve been hard since I was in an old, peaceful buddhist village up in the mountains.

I settled for the Yak hotel because I was standing right in front of it and I literally couldn’t move my legs any further.  My host showed me to my room.  I threw down my sleeping bag and curled up inside it.  I was too tired for anything else.  I was thirsty, running low on water, hungry, had to go to the bathroom – but all that didn’t matter.  That’s how tired I was.

The room was friged.  Three sides of it had huge windows that let out heat and brought in cold air from outside.  I didn’t have time to find peace of mind before drifting off.  I shivered myself into a light, disruptive sleep.

When I woke up, I didn’t know where I was or why I was alone, but then remembered and my heart sank.  I felt guilty like I made the wrong decision.  But I didn’t know what else to do!  My body was in the shitter, my brain malfunctioning.  Taking the low road to Manang was my only feasible option.  So why did I feel so miserable about it?

After my nap, I gathered my wit’s and knew I had to get up and eat.  I was still so tired and getting out of the sleeping bag meant instant cold, but I had to pee and drink and do all the simple human functions that come so easily back home.  It was like I had to relearn what it meant to be human and stay alive before my bladder bursts.  Oh but the cold…..and oh so tired……UP Melanie!  Get up, up UP!

I found myself hobbling down the stone walkway of the town and peering inside a bakery.  I went in and ordered seabuckthorn juice, tomato soup and a ham sandwich with yak cheese.  The soup was bland and the ham was some sort of processed goblin meat, but I gobbled it down because the bread was so good.  The juice was good too and woke me up from my funk.  The woman behind the counter hummed a sweet tune and set my spirit at ease.

“I’m okay, really okay.  I’m not going crazy, no, not me.”

I acquired new vigor and ventured out into the town to see what it had to offer.  Yup, it was definitely an old buddhist village.  Prayer flags everywhere, prayer wheels galore and I even spotted a monk sporting New Balance sneakers under his robes.

The buildings were made out of stone.  So old that most were crumbling.  I walked by two small movie theater’s that advertised having a fireplace inside.

I walked into a little shop and bought myself some nice purple fleece pants for $4 and asked the smiling man behind the counter which theater was better.

“The one on the left.  It has new projector.”

So on my first night in Manang, day 6 of my trek, I found myself in a cozy den of a theater sitting on a yak fur lined bench, eating complimentary popcorn and drinking hot tea while watching a cheesy film called “Into Thin Air:  Death on Everest.”  Not the upbeat vibe I was hoping for.  But the little den was filled with trekkers from around the world and they made funny comments every time someone died in the movie, such as “Those dumb Americans.”  Every time a trekker would shout out a Dumb American joke (particularly a Scottish guy), everyone in the den would burst out laughing.  And me being one of them nodding in agreement, “Yes.  I too am a dumb American.”  But when the asian lady died, everyone exhaled an “aww.” I held my tongue not to shout out, “Those dumb Asians.”

After the movie, I walked back to the Yak, got my jammies out of my pack.  Slipped on my new fleece pants and curled into my sack.

Day 7:

The girls came traipsing into town, swinging their poles when they spotted me.  A sigh of relief escaped me.  I was sincerely happy to see them and bunk up with them.  I changed tea houses telling them how bad the Yak was, and we nestled ourselves into Mountain side (or something like that).  It was packed with lively trekkers and even had a sunroom where I could finally get warm and do laundry to hang up to dry.

I had yet another throbbing headache when I woke up that morning of day 7.  I woke up very early, possibly as early as 3 A.M.  I wanted to blame it on dehydration, but I wasn’t thirsty.  I waited patiently until it passed.  It lasted for hours – unbearable throbbing hours.  I knew it was from the altitude, but I figured that as long as I stayed put and not ascend for the next few days, I would acclimate.  I felt a tinge of nausea, but it wasn’t an overpowering symptom like the headache.  I was still easily fatigued just by walking up and down the steps of the tea house and knew that this may be yet another part of the journey where I’d have to part ways from my travel companions.  That is, if my sickness didn’t wear off in time before it was time to move on.

Only, there was a new kind of icy vibe creeping up from everyone.  Instead of just K sending it out, I was getting it from M and B as well.  I can’t tell you how sensitive I am to people’s thought’s.  I pick up on it briskly – nothing escapes me.  I clam up around this hidden emotional torture.  What did I do now?

Their cold shoulder’s were put on hold for the movie.  Yes, I went to that little theater again, only this time it was just us five girls in the den.  And without electricity.  The Nepalese men had to run the generator and it only worked with the tv, not the projector.  So they hammered together a tv stand and set a tv atop for us to watch Super Bad.

Day 8:

Again with the headache.  I shared a room with S and B, and in the middle of the night, I woke up from the pain.  It got so bad that I needed a damp washcloth to put over my eyes.  I prayed to God that if he made the headache go away, I promised to descend back to Pokarah.  But it didn’t go away, so I forfeited my promise.

The headache lasted until the end of breakfast.  I felt defeated and miserable.  The girls saw it and tried to ignore it.  By the end of breakfast, I was fine but weary of the new ostracizing wounds I was making for myself by complaining – none of these girls have much of a tolerance for complainers.  And I especially shouldn’t have complained about my headache since friends are scarce among this group of hard travelers.

We all amicably agreed to go see the Gumpa for our acclimation hike.  I was excited for this – to get blessed by a certified buddha master was certainly on my life’s To Do list.  I happily strolled up that mountain to see him.  One blessed step after the other.  The hike up wasn’t as strenuous as I thought it would be on me.  I knew that if I made it up that mountain to see him, I can make it through the pass unharmed – I just knew it.

We got up there, the little 96-year-old codger did his thing.  Smiled at us, blessed us, told us he’s 96 years old and said the same spiel to everyone before gently knocking our heads with something that looked like a brick.  I liked it, I thought it was cool.  His mistress tying to sell us genuine prayer beads made it seem a little less authentic and more money driven, but I bought some because, hell, I’m a sucker for prayer beads.  I need all the beads I can get.

I hit my head on the way out of his cave.  He really does live in a cave on the side of a mountain.  Or so, that’s what we trekkers want to believe.  At least I do.  But his damn door frame was too low.

We trekked back down to town for lunch at a bakery.  I ordered the enchilada which gave me a stomach ache from all the rich cheese and sauce – bread would have helped, but there was none.

Me holding my stomach – “That enchilada gave me a stomach ache.”

M – “What food doesn’t give you a stomach ache?”

Up until then, I haven’t complained about any stomach issue’s during the trek.  I have no friends here……

We went to the movies yet again.  This time to see Seven Years in Tibet.  Even during the movie I felt everyone’s uneasiness grow towards me.  I felt like the elephant in the room.

We got back to our tea house, ate dinner and after dinner was when it happened.  The attack.  A full-blown, planned attack.  I should have seen it coming.  It was almost orchestrated.  Everyone leaning towards kicking me out of the group.  I was left hapless and defenseless.

B – “So Melanie, whats going on tomorrow?  Are you hiring a porter?  If you’re hiring a porter, you should get one tonight.”

Me – “I was going to wait and see how my head feels.”

B – “Well we sorta need to figure this out now.”

Me – “Okay, I’ll get a porter tonight.  We’re only going for three hours, right?  I may not even need a porter.”

B – “But can you make it for three hours?”

How was I supposed to know, or answer that?  Everybody’s eyes were leering on me.  Searing my sparkle to a dull ash.

Me – “I, uhhh…..”

B – “If you come, it’s not only you in danger, it’s all of us.  You will endanger us.  You have to think about the group.”

How could I answer that without saying ‘fuck the group, I’m going?’

Me – “Okay, I guess I’ll stay here then.”

Then all in a jumble, I hear:

“I know you want to travel, but this isn’t for you.”

“You don’t seem to be having any fun.”

“You’re not motivated.”

“You shouldn’t go places just to get a stamp on your passport.”

“Is that what you want to do?”

Me – “Well, I wanted to go, but now I feel like no one here wants me to.”

K timidly said she wanted me to go, but clearly she was just trying to bypass the guilt by not saying it.  And she was the ringleader of this parade, so it had to be her to take the reins on that one.  She was afterall, my “good” friend.

I was devastated and heartbroken.  My one glorious trip to Nepal smashed into pieces by something I couldn’t control.  I can predict my own responses, but I can’t predict other people’s.  Throw people into the mix and you’ll never know what dish they’ll whip up at you.

I was the girl waiting to get the custard pie thrown at her face at the fair, or the dunce sitting on the lever above a tank full of water, waiting for someone to hit the bullseye.  I was the one.  Have I always been the one?  Once I fall, people don’t laugh, they just shake their heads and say, “See?  I told you.”  And I’m left dripping wet for the dogs to sniff at and walk by.

It’s a dog eat dog world, and I was standing there wearing kibbles coveralls.

I felt like a dripping wet, unloveable asshole.  No one likes a wet, dripping asshole when traveling.

I dejectedly walked up to my room, leaving the girls to prey on my fresh anguish and cluck to each other about it.

Once I was nestled in bed, I made a promise to myself that I will finish this damned trek.  I don’t give a fuck, I’m doing it.  And I’m doing it alone.

Day 9:

Journal entry:

I’m hiding from everyone.  I’m outside the village sitting on a rock by a little stream.  In front of me is Manang, a crumbly, old place with half it’s stone walls torn down and left in piles where little kids play hide and seek with cats.  Behind me is a majestic view of the mountains. 

People are working, hauling dirt, rocks and twigs inside baskets strapped to their heads – there is no age limit to be a hauler.  This is an old Tibetan village.  I always wanted to spin a prayer wheel, and here I am surrounded by hundreds of them.  Prayer flags everywhere, goats, cows, yaks roaming the cobbled streets.  It’s awesome here.  I bought a pack of Nepali cigarettes.  My first pack in 9 months.  I already smoked three of them and gave one to a young man carrying a heavy piece of wood on his shoulders. 

I have a long hike ahead of me.  It won’t be easy, but adventures aren’t supposed to be easy.  There is no adventure without danger.  My knee feel’s sprained, ankle’s are sore, my left thigh keeps cramping up – hell with it, I’ll walk it off.

I should get back to the tea house.  Hopefully the girls will be gone by now.  Maybe they left me a note, but probably not.  K said she’d meet me at the hot springs wherever the hell that is, I don’t know.  I don’t have a map.

As I was walking back to the tea house, I see B and M walking toward me.

‘Shit.  Shit shit shit!  Not only did they not leave, but I’m sure they’re going to go ape shit on me for ditching them.  Fuck!’

As soon as I woke up that morning, I couldn’t bear to show myself to them.  So I ran and hid away hoping they would gently leave without much ado.  Maybe write me a note – hopefully one that said they were sorry for kicking me out.

No, that didn’t happen.

I wanted to turn and run.  Or just walk past all calm and cool and say ‘hey’.

Them – “Melanie!  Everyone’s looking for you!”

Me – “I thought you guys would’ve been gone by now.”

Them – “No!  Everyone’s waiting back at the tea house.  K wants to talk to you.”

Doom.  Clear and present doom you mean.  Doom wants a word with me.

I got back to the tea house in a matter of minutes and there stood Doom outside calling me a child for running away.

Me – “I’m going to finish the trek, but I’m going to do it alone.”

K – “No you’re not, no way.”

I couldn’t imagine spending another minute with these people – especially not after the awkwardness of last night compiled with this mornings disappearance.  The buddha once said that “It’s better to travel well than to arrive” and traveling well for me meant severing the source of my malaise.

Me – “Yes I am……”

K – “Can I speak to you alone upstairs?”

Me – “About what?!”

I didn’t want to be alone with her, I needed witnesses.  But everyone walked off as if on cue.  It gave K the time she needed to figure out a response.

K – “So what, you’re going to hike it alone just to spite us?”

Me – “No, I just don’t want to go back down.”

K – “So you’re willing to just throw this friendship away?”

What?!

Me – “We been friends for a long time, we’ll be friends again after.  It’s just that this trip isn’t working out.”

We were at an impasse.  I had stalemate arguments with friends before – even on this caliber – it all felt eerily familiar.  But my mind was set, and I wasn’t about to budge.

K – “You can join back up with us but you have to promise to keep up and tell us the minute you start getting altitude sickness.”

Yuck, that sounds like a horrible idea.  Promise to keep up?  With these sore legs?  And I was already feeling sick just standing there.

Me – “No that’s okay, I’ll be fine on my own.”

K – “Then it will just be us then.  We don’t have to hike with the others.”

I started crying behind my glasses.  Thank god for them.

Me – “I don’t want to take you away from them.”

I forgot what she said after that, but it was more insisting that we hike together.

Me – “I endanger the group.  I’m a danger.”  I wipe my flushed cheek.

More insisting.

Me – “It would be awkward if we hike together.”

K – “Yes it would be awkward, but we’ll just have to deal with it.”

No.  No, I don’t have to deal with it.

Me – “We’ll run into them while we’re hiking.  Those girls don’t like me.”

K – “They like you.”

I dug down deep in the squishy folds of my brain to find the words to win her understanding, but all I could come up with was;

Me – “Just let me be on my own, please?”

I sounded truly like a child at this point, but I was being treated like a child.  I act in response to how I’m treated.

We argued back and forth until K gives up and said she’s never traveling with me again.  She made me promise her that I would find a group to trek with and then gave me torn out pages from her Lonely Planet guide to help me get through the rest of the trek.  I thankfully accepted them because I didn’t have anything else to go by – not even a compass.  Not even an internal compass.

She hugged me goodbye and I left her standing outside the tea house while I escaped inside it.

I turned back from inside the doorway and asked, “Are we still meeting at the hot springs, or no?”

K – “I don’t know.  I guess.  I’m almost ready to just give you our flight information.”

Me – “Oh, okay.  Bye.”

I wanted to end the conversation before it got nasty.

I ran up the stairs and into my little sunny alcove where trekkers hung their wash up to dry.  I sat cross-legged on the floor with K’s Lonely Planet pages scattered before me, trying to figure out where I was, where I’m going, and how long it would take for me to get there.

Shit what am I doing?

K came and found me one last time to tell me something, but I can’t remember what it was.  I only remember her telling me to have fun.

Me – “I will.  I’ll take lot’s of pictures.”

And she was gone.  I could hear them talking to each other outside directly below me.  I didn’t want to hear them.  I was afraid I would hear something sinister, or cruel about me.  But I didn’t.  They all left without wounding me one last time.

I took a deep breath.  I was on my own and I didn’t feel like doing shit.  I felt I was back to my first cold, lonely night in Manang where I had to relearn everything.  How to stand up, how to walk back to my room to pack up my stuff – I should eat something….

This was the first morning where I woke up without a headache.  At least I had that going for me.  A Clean bill of health.

On my way out of Manang, I stopped by the clinic to get some Diamox from the Himalayan Rescue Association.  The caring, gentile British man gave me a five minute lecture about them.

“They will not get you over the pass.  If you feel really sick, go down.”  He gave me a reassuring smile not to worry, but that I should worry nonetheless.  He was a true kind spirit and sensed my fears just by looking at me.  He made me promise that I would come down if I felt sick.

“Really, really promise me.”

“I really promise.”

And off I went.  Up and out of Manang, the beaten up bedraggled village.  I’m pretty sure the villagers only live there during the trekking season to make money, but that thought takes away the magic of the place – their timeless way of life!  I pushed it out of my head and prepared myself for my lone journey up the side of a freaking mountain.  Let the madness commence!

Always in good spirits.

If coffee cans can substitute for prayer wheels, than I can substitute for a real trekker!

Shy horsey, come here horsey.

I was trekking from Manang all the way to Letdar.  Only a four-hour hike, but I’d be ascending over the recommended 500 meters a day.  It will be 700 meters, so I’d have to take half of a Diamox for good measure.

About two hours into my trek, I stopped at a remote tea house to stock up on some yak cheese and take a breather.  I slipped off my pack and sat contemplating my cheese decision verses my money shortage.  Yup, cheese it is.

I slipped my pack back on up over my shoulders – my most dreaded ordeal.  I learned to dread it ever since I reached the higher altitudes.  It’s like Pavlov’s bell to me.  Slipping my pack back on equates to hardships and physical pain.

“God this damn thing.”  I curse as I fumble with my water tube tangled in the strap as half my pack hangs to the side on one shoulder, throwing off my balance.  It’s a graceless act of buffoonery to watch me do it.  Damn stinkin’ pack.

And then I was off again with cheese in tow.  Off into places unknown, until they became really unknown and I had to double back, making my 4 hour trek into 5.

I started the trek really late in the day.  I wanted to organize myself in Manang before I left, which sucked up as much of my time as does putting on my pack.  It started getting dark.  I trekked into the shadows of a mountain where it got cold and gloomy.  I was listening to Bryan Adams, If You Believe, when I started to bawl.  Then I bawled to Adelle, but come on, how could a person not bawl to Adelle?

I was okay though, I really was.  I think I even wiped my tears away and started laughing like “Okay” people do.  A wise man once said, “In times like these, it helps to recall that there have always been times like these.”

There was an old woman coming my way on the narrow trail I was on.  We were clinging to the side of a steep mountain side, so there was really only room for one of us to pass.  She was carrying what seemed like a heavy load on her head, so I scampered up the dirt mountain side to make way for her.

She passed by me, stopped and turned around and smiled.  I came back down and said “Namaste.”  She started pointing to things on my person (what a weird phrase).

“What, this?  My water bottle?  It’s a hose for my water.  I drink from it.”

She kept pointing.

“I hold it up like this and ‘clug clug clug,’ I drink.”

She points to something else.

“What?  My watch?  You want to know what time it is?”

Then points to my red hanky.

“Oh this is gross.”  I take it out and wave it in front of her.  “You don’t want this, trust me.”  I mimed blowing my nose and then held the hanky up with my fingertips while scrunching my face.  “Yuck.”

She kept pointing.

“My camera?  Oh you want me to take your picture!  Okay, I can do that.  Smile, say Namaste!”  I grin broadly showing off my goofy ass teeth.

Then she just stared at me.  I stared back.

“I’m sorry, I don’t have any money.  Ha ha, I’m broke.”

She seemed satisfied with that response and continued on her way.  I was happy to have run into her because that meant I must’ve been close to Ledter, but if she was going in the opposite direction, she had a long way to go before seeing any form of life or establishment.  I couldn’t understand what was so important about those brambles of twigs she was carrying on her back to make her have to walk for hours and hours.

I turned back in puzzlement to watch her make her way down the slope.

“Strange.  Strange, strange people.”

I lifted my hand up to my clavicle strap so I could yank it away from my neck and I noticed blood pouring down the side of my knuckle.

“Oh, I guess that’s what she was pointing at.”

I hefted my pack up to nuzzle it comfortably against my shoulders, turned on my heel and headed for a long suspension bridge.  I started laughing to myself and calling myself a “Dumb American” in that trekkers Scottish accent.  Apparently I don’t need friends around to make me feel like a complete dunderhead.  I can do it all my own!  Like climb the Himalayas all my own!  I crossed the high, swaying suspension bridge with high hopes.  Not realizing it would be another few hours until I reached any civilization.

I finally made it to Letdar.  Or at least I thought it was Letdar.  I asked some locals where I was and they barked at me.

“Is this Letdar?”

“Kharka.”

I was talking to what appeared to be two identical men with undecipherable ages who barked the same sounds at me.

The other nodded and said, “Kharka.”

It was a halting, jolting sound.  Jarring to the unsuspecting ear.  Rough like sandpaper hitting the back of your throat.

“Um, okay.  Uhhhh…..Letdar?”

They both point and then look at me blankly.

“Okay, thanks anyway.”

A short while later I found out that I was in Yak Kharka.  ‘Yak Kharka isn’t on my map.  Where the hell am I?  Was the bramble lady telling me I was going the wrong way?’

I pushed on forward, singing to my Ipod, unencumbered by worry.  Lavishly falling into my fate of being a dumb American.

I was going in the right direction as it turned out.  I landed in a comely trekker town at dusk and set myself up in a hole in the wall tea house.  Cold and grey.  But I got an extra bed!  I was ecstatic to cannibalize my extra bed and use it for my own selfish, lone needs.  I ripped off the mattress pad and doubled it up on the other bed.  The extra blanket?  Hell yes the extra blanket!  I’ll use that shit for my scrawny, white hide.

The trekkers dream bed.

I ate some noodle soup, taken half a diamox and sunk myself deep into the soft mattress’ cavity.  It’s snug embrace soothed me and I fell asleep wearing all my layers, down jacket and some stick-on body warmers.  It was the perfect end to a rather traumatizing day.

Day 10:

Altitude does not like me.  It affects me most at night.  That’s when I get the headaches and weird dreams.  Last night I had a bizarre dream that the mattress was trying to eat me.  It was weird.  And there was a huge ape-like creature hanging off the side of my bed.  He was getting excited, Ooh’ing and ahh’ing about the mattress opening it’s cavernous mouth from under me.  I was kicking in my sleep and kicked off my sleeping bag along with all my blankets.  I woke up freezing and having to pee.  But I had my dreaded headache, and my face looked swollen – I was freezing, exhausted, hungry, thirsty, and yeah, I had to pee pretty bad.  I had to pee so bad in fact, that I looked for an empty container to go in.

“I’m not going to pee in my water bottle.  No, not going to happen.  I wish I had a Dunkin donuts cup, or at least a potted plant.”

These thoughts raced through my mind.

There was nothing, so I had to make a bee line to the potty before I had an accident.  I made it just in time.  Just in time to hear the swiss people who bunked in the room next to me, toot their loud Riccola commercial horn.

“What the hell, really?  What if I was still sleeping?”

I trudged back to my room and closed my door, laid back in bed and told myself that I didn’t have to do a damn thing today if I didn’t want to.  But the thought of doing nothing made me bored.  As tired and sick as I was, it didn’t trump the dread of boredom if I stayed cooped up in my room all day.

I decided to wait out my sickness.  Let it dissipate and have my face puff down to a reasonable size before I went anywhere.

I ended up spying outside my window for an hour or two like a batty old crone.

“Blast you stinkin’ swiss and your know-it-all knives!”  I cackle through my unflossed teeth.  “You Toot your own horns you show off swedish meatheads!  Blah ha ha haaaaa!”

Clearly I was losing it.  I really don’t have anything against the Swiss.

I started feeling better, but knew full well that going outside down the stairs to make another bathroom run, would tucker me out.  Going down stairs fatigued me.  Moving fatigued me.  I really was a haggard old crone.

The next town was so close – so unbelievably close that I felt I could make it.  It was a mere hour away with an ascent of only 250 meters.  And my water supply was running dangerously low (the abandoners taken their two water filters with them).  I didn’t trust the water from my tea house – my dwindling gut warned against it.  The next town, Letdar, had a fresh water station which hasn’t failed me yet.

I surmised that if I played my cards right and didn’t over-exert myself, but at the same time not lag so much where I consumed all my water, that I could make it in the wretched state I was in.  But I had to leave now.  Before I got thirsty.  My thirst had to wait until it counts.

Then I hear familiar voices outside my window.

BLAST!  It was my four disowning travel mates yacking it up having a grand old time.  I watched them go inside a tea house for breakfast, or lunch, whatever the hell time it was, I didn’t know.

The sight of them depressed me and reminded me why I was alone.  I was bad company, a horrible companion, a lousy travel buddy, a crybaby, complainer, sick……and whatever else they whipped up to hurl at me.  Wretched me.  Woe is wretched me and my racist cackle’s toward the Swiss.

How was I okay during all this?  Maybe I wasn’t okay.  Maybe I never been okay in my entire life so I don’t know what okay really feels like.  Or maybe I’m just a pig-headed brute who’d rather die an honerable trekkers death than to grovel my way back into the group.

Either way, I was stuck in my little room cold and hungry, while they were out there warm and fed.  My depresive thoughts stopped me from packing up.  I became tired again, so I laid back in bed and read a little until my wings grew back.  And when they did, I packed up my shit and high-tailed it out of that wayward popsicle stand making sure the abandoners were nowhere in site.

‘Where’s the trail?  How the hell did I lose the trail?  Was I even on a trail?’  If going down some stairs fatigued me, that’s nothing compared to losing a trail and finding yourself on an animal trail leading up the side of an astray mountain.

I finally found the trail.  The four abandoners were on it, so I trailed back and let them get far ahead of me, but not without them spotting me first.  I was so far away from them, sitting on a bench eating pistachio’s, but I could see them turning around looking in my direction.  I could clearly make them out, but for some reason I thought I was camouflaged and they wouldn’t be able to see my red pack with all my reflectors stuck all over it.  I was nearly delirious after all.

All my pistachio shells.

After a few minutes, they turned around and left.  I slowly got up and followed them.  I followed them because I didn’t really have a choice.

And I trekked.  I trekked to Letdar, listening to my Ipod and humming a tune.

This whole thing started feeling ridiculous – really ridiculous.  Yes, I clearly was suffering from AMS, but it wasn’t a severe case.  It may sound severe from the way I described it, well, it was bad but not severe.  British guy said, “If you start feeling really sick, go back down.”  And I didn’t feel really sick.  Just a little sick.  Just the ick in sick, that’s all.

I made it to the suspension bridge, crossed it and took a breather once I reached the other side.  There were small children with their parents doing some kind of yard work together.  They smiled and nodded at me.  I stopped and chatted with them and let another lone trekker idle up the bridge to join us in some friendly chit-chat where nobody knew what the other was saying.

Except for my newly acquainted trekker friend.

Me – “Are you here alone?”

Him – “Yep, here alone just like you.”

Me – “I’m actually not really alone, my friends are up ahead.  I was having altitude sickness so I had to take my time.”

We walked to the nearest tea house and I rented a room.  I was making myself at home by slovenly throwing my smelly belongings all about, when I heard my name being called from below.

“Hey Melanie!”

“Yeah?”

“Hey I’m actually going to stay here too.  Would you want to room together?  Save some money?”

The room cost the equivalent of a US dollar bill.

Me – “Uhhh……”

Him – “I’m a nice guy, I don’t snore.”

If I was clean, shaved, and looked somewhat decent – hell, I would’ve done it.  Maybe done it, I don’t know.

Me – “Why don’t you take that room right next to mine?”

I gestured over to the bathroom.

Him – “You want me to stay in the bathroom?”

I looked over and seen my mistake.

Me – “Oh, oops, ha ha how about the next room besides that?”

I looked atrocious, smelled like I passed through the system of a sick old woman, and this guy from Seattle wanted me to bunk with him to save himself 50 cents?  Ha ha ha!

I finish unpacking my stuff, scrubbed my filthy clothes out using my host’s laundry bar (my four jilted chums took the only one with them).  And settled myself down in the sunroom to scarf down some dal baht while enjoying the company of Frenchie, two cute brothers from Great Britain and Slutty Seattle.

After lunch, I went for a little waltz up a mountain and laid down in the sun in private.  It felt great.  I had forgotten how nice the sun felt to just lay in it.  Then I went up to my room and taken a well deserved nap.  The nap was phenominal!  I was warm, I was comfortable, brimming with hot chocolate and good food.  And my companions made me feel less crazy – maybe sexy even.  I slept until it was time for dinner.  I forgot what I ate, probably noodles of some sort, and then I went to bed.  Warm, safe and content.

I planned on having a late start the next day.  Only two hours of trekking until I reached Thorang Phedi, I could afford to take it easy.

Day 11:

I woke up not knowing where I was.  It’s like waking up from a dream, only to find yourself in another dream.  I’m not sure if my mind is able to stay calm because it accepts not knowing my location – or that maybe my mind is unable to rationalize the situation well enough to set itself into an established panic mode.  It just doesn’t compute, doesn’t register.  I stay dumb like broccoli.

Journal entry:

I’m laying in bed with the covers over me.  I never felt as lazy as I do now – not ever!  I’m waiting for AMS to subside.  It shouldn’t be long, it doesn’t feel severe.  The girls were right, I’m not motivated to do this hike.  But I must finish!  I must cleanse my soul through this odious venture!  It’s a Godforsaken pilgrimage dammit! 

I don’t want to leave this bed.

But I did leave the bed.

She is able who thinks She is able.

I felt grody and badly needed to shower.  Unfortunately there was no hot water.  All they had available was a bucket of hot water.  And when I say hot, I mean BOILING!  My host brought the bucket up the stairs and placed it on the bathroom floor next to the poop plopper.  I couldn’t resist taking a picture of it.

I waited and waited until it cooled down, but still burnt myself with it.  I burnt the tip of my right ear with the scalding water when I poured some over my oily tresses.

After my hot bucket bath and a bowl of their finest Apple Muesli, I headed off to Thorang Phedi.  The last stop before the pass.  People died trying to cross the pass.  Have I mentioned that?

‘I’m sitting in a dining hall with a bunch of soft spoken, polite Brit’s in Thorang Phedi.  They’re older than me.  Some by more than 20 years, except for one young lass.  Her age is indecipherable.  She overheard my conversation with my table companions and came over to speak with me.  She told me that its way too dangerous for someone to cross the pass alone.  And that I needed to join her group for safety sake.  Her name is Angie.  Angie the Angel!  I seriously never met anyone as kind as her.  And to come to me right in the nick of time?  When dinner was finished and things were wrapping up?!’

Exodus is the name of her trekking group.  Can you believe that?  An Angel straight out of Exodus is leading me to safety.  It just fits too well.  Oddly well.  If I was taking this trek to find God, I think I just did.

Angie – “We are meeting at 3:30 for breakfast.  How’s your knee?”

She saw me absent-mindedly bending and flexing it.

My first thought was, ‘no one has ever cared to ask me that.’

Me – “Oh, uhh….well, it’s a little sore.  I can walk on it okay, I just can’t jump.”

Angie – “Okay, well you should hire a porter tonight.  It will make it easier.”

I completely forgot about hiring a porter.  I was going to do it anyway, but completely forgot.

Me – “Oh yeah, I forgot about porters.”

Angie – “And you should pre-order your breakfast so it’s ready in time.”

This girl was brilliant.  Brilliant!  She taken my tattered, shattered vacation and turned it into something shimmering and gem-like.

I felt safe, and even saved 2000 rupies off my porter because I simply didn’t have enough money to pay him.  2000 rupies is quite the hefty sum for them to lob off and give me a saintly porter for half the price.  My new porter was always smiling and looking angelic thru the glow of my pack reflectors.

Okay, so I was saved.  But that still left my friends out there.  I haven’t seen them in a while and I was worried about them crossing the shifty landslide area into Thorang Phedi.  The rocks underneath my feet felt loose like they could slide at any moment – you could see they’ve been sliding for a long time.  I wondered if they were worried about me, too.

No, most likely not.

I’m laying in bed freezing.  I have two peel and stick body warmers stuck on me, 3 long underwear, 3 long sleeve heavy base layers, my windbreaker, my down jacket, sleeping bag and two heavy blankets over me and I’m still cold.  Being up in this high altitude having to pee so much, I opted for the more expensive suite with an indoor pooper plopper attatched to my room.  The hole was frozen solid.

Aint it luxurious?

I don’t know where that wetness around the hole came from…….

Oh and look!  It came with it’s own bucket of strange exotic water!

Unfortunately, even with the indoor plumbing, getting out from under the sleeping bag proved to be just as fretful as stepping outside into an invincible ice storm.

I packed up most of my belongings, left out only the essential items, set my two alarm clocks – one on my Iphone and the other on my Ipod, and fell asleep feeling safe and cared for.

Day 12:  The pass

See the sunrise over the Himalaya’s?  Check!

Aint no mountain higher than me!  Well, besides Everest.

I slept like a baby before waking up at 3 A.M.  I actually set my alarm to the wrong time.  I ended up sleeping later than I wanted, leaving me with about 5 minutes to pack my bags, dress, pee and then I hear a knock on my door from one of the British ladies asking me if I was awake yet – I LOVE them.  LOVE THEM!

I got my breakfast, my porter, and my new trekking pals all being well and happy.

Then we were off to conquer the Pass of Thorung.  Why do people do this?  I have no idea.  But I’m doing it.  Hell.

The Exodus guide methodically led the team up the mountain.  The medic trailed the rear, sometimes scoping out each individual by walking up and down the line of trekkers.  Angie wasn’t fooling when she said they went slow.  I popped in my earbuds and listened to quintessential soft melody’s.  Some classical, some Bon Jovi.  And why go fast?  The peak isn’t going to sprout legs and run away.

It was moving and raw.  Drooling up a mountain in the dead of night listening to Bach with a trail of loving strangers following me.  All the stars visible and shining down on us.  I was in a trance, standing back watching the earth in orbit with a trekking pole in my hand.  Me being a little fleshy ball of molecules sashaying through the wind, the altitude and transversing through different universes to end at an apex.

Why do people do this?  For these quiet moments of cognizance.  Before seeing the thunderous mountains flare up from sun.  Those are the soulveniers to take back home.  Not the abandonment issues, but the nirvana.  To not come back as a lost little puppy, but a strong, willful, loving woman who seen a side of bliss.

It reminds me of the Ganzfeld effect when you blind yourself by seeing only one color until you can’t see it anymore.  Your eyes start hallucinating like they’re asleep.  Maybe that’s what love is – the color that blinds you.  And everything else is nothing but an illusion, halucinations and constructs of your own mind.  If you asked a fish what water is, do you think they know?

We reached High Camp just after the sun began to rise.  That’s when I saw the girls.  Outside and waiting to use the bathroom.  They all looked cold, shaking, but excited.  Kristina ran up to me as if nothing happened, with a big smile on her face.  I was glad to see everyone safe.  But hate when people act as if nothing happened between us.  I’m suffering the trip alone because they kicked me out.   They should at least show a little ache toward my plight.  A little reckognition of what I was doing was hard.  But I guess that’s a selfish thought.  ‘It’s an illusion Mel, all in your head.’

We continued on up after the bathroom break.  Leaving the girls behind.  Slowly moving.  Up and up until my little gaggle finally made it to the top.  We drank down cups of soapy, sudsy, ginger tea water – mostly just to get warm and get out of the elements.  The wind was unrelenting and almost knocked me down a few times.

It was finally time to go downhill.  Downhill was the easy part, right?  Wrong.  No, it wasn’t easy.  After a while my feet throbbed, my ankles became weak and unsteady and my calf muscles hardened into little volatile lumps of dark matter.  But I didn’t care.  I was going downhill.  Away from the altitude, away from the headaches and fatigue and unworkable limbs.  I was happy.

I had to carry my pack now since I only hired the porter to take it to the top.  It bounced up and down on my shoulders causing neck pain, shoulder pain – Even hiking with the abandoners at a faster pace, still never hurt as much as this did.  I was the only one who had to carry her pack, so breaks weren’t as necessary for them.  The ease of going up, balanced out the pain I felt from going down.  Down, down down we went.  Very slowly at times over the slippery, snowy area’s where the trail was buried and all that was left was a narrow rocky ledge.

The trek lasted a total of 12 hours.  No one wanted to stop for breaks on the way down – everyone got ahead of me.  Angie stayed by me to dispense me my water from my unreachable compartment on the side of my pack.  What an Angel – a peach!

They at least stopped for lunch.  That was one very welcomed break.  I had no food on me, but I didn’t care.  I could go a long time without food, but everyone gave me some of theirs.  I even got pieces of real English chocolate, and a whole fruit bar to myself.  Everyone not knowing how grateful I was of them.

We finally made it to Muktinah.  I saw that the village was enclosed by a tall rock wall that I needed to circumvent.  It was endless and daunting.  My ankles felt like broken, knobby twigs.  I was there at the town but couldn’t get in!  This is where I parted ways with my saviours and went on my own.  Ever so slowly.  Treading lightly on my sore, crumpled toes.  I sludged my way into town.  My walk was more like a crawl.  Villagers smiled and chuckled at me as I passed by their little shops – going easy on me, trying not to hound me too much by asking me to “take a look.”

I was hunched over, clutching the straps of my pack, dragging my feet and I really REALLY had to pee.  At one point I buckled over on a step trying hard not to wet myself.  Why do I let myself hold it for so long?

I went to two tea houses that were fully booked.  The third housed me.  I was saved.

After peeing, I flung my pack against the wall and crawled on the bed.  Made myself into a tight little ball and openly, unencumberedly whimpered the pain away.

But alas I had to eat.  It was a matter of survival.  I went downstairs and sat down with Denmark.  We had a nice chat about the faux villages set up along the route just to cater to trekkers.

Me – “If they are there only for us, than the place loses its magic.  It becomes more like an amusement park, you know?  Just being there for our pleasure?”

Denmark – “Don’t worry, there are some real towns out there to see.”

Then Austria sat down with his bottle of Everest.  He was big and surly.  Not too friendly at first, but brightened up pretty quick.  We all warmed our legs on the burning coals under the squat table as we ate dinner and talked trek.

‘Wow I’m a trekker!  I’m holding a conversation about traveling and trekking!  I am a good companion dammit.’

I ordered the yak stew.

It looks tasty, but I needed to sharpen my teeth to eat it.

Right now, in present time – I’m exhausted.  I’ve been up all night writing this post.  And I mean ALL night, ALL morning, only stopping to take a shower and give someone a massage.  Now I’m back on typing.  It’s 4:26 pm on Sunday the 7th.  Exactly one month ago I was running away from children in the streets of Kathmandu.  And now I’m home eating venison stew.  Having visions and memories stuck like glue.

Day 13:  The reunion

I went to see the temples in Muktinuh with a man named Gobinda.  He was staying at my tea house and was the surly Austrians trail guide.  I didn’t know he was Austria’s trail guide, I thought he just worked at the tea house because he kept offering me tea.

He offered to take me there, no strings attached.  I had a feeling he may have had alterior motives, but I didn’t care cause I got to have my very own free escort to show me around and tell me a few things.  And we wouldn’t be alone, there were ton’s of people getting blessed.

On my way up to the holy temple, I ran into Angie the Angel.  She wrote down her email and we snapped a picture together.  She was leaving that day to go back home.

She’s not only nice, but pretty too!  I’m going to email her as soon as I finish this rediculously long blog post and send her the link.

This is a sacred pool of water where worshipers strip off their clothes and wade in the bessed water.  I didn’t take my chances with it.

Pilgrims in line waiting to be blessed.

108 sacred water spouts.  Men and women skantily clad in their undergarments run under all 108 spouts in order to cleanse their spirit.

I had Gobinda fill my empty water bottle with holy water.  I would now  be trekking with a full liter of holy water added to the weight of everything else.  To the left of the photo, a man in his speedo.

Wow, my face looks really red here.

I got blessed again.

Gobinda walked me to a clearing free of people claiming that the veiws would be great.  Uh oh….

We sat down for a smoke and chatted.  He’s a really sweet guy, but comes on too strong.  The life expectancy in Nepal is 65 years, so there’s not much time for beating around the bush.  He tried kissing me, but I turned my face away.  Then he started rubbing his newly minted tilak all over my cheek.  Nuzzling my face with his forehead like a kitten.  And for the whole time I was with him, he kept playing Puff Daddy’s “I’ll be missing you” over and over on his phone.  I heard it play at least 20 times.

That’s the dot on the forehead, a tilak.  That’s before he smudged it on my face.

Before Gobinda taken me to the secluded place, I ran into the girls at the temple.  I thought that since the worst of the trek was over and done with, we could at least finish it together.  But no one gave any inclination of wanting me back in, and I wasn’t about to straight up and ask.  I couldn’t handle that kind of rejection – at least not when I’m still licking my wounds from their last rejection of me.  They told me they were going to lunch at the Bob Marley hotel – not inviting me along, but not uninviting me.  I took it as an invitation and met with them after washing out my underwear in the center of town’s water spigot.

Lunch went okay.  I told them that Gobinda wanted to take me to dinner that night, but I didn’t want to go after he put the moves on me.  This was an indication for them to invite me back in – but, nope.  Didn’t happen.  They obviously hated me.  After lunch, everyone had to either go fill their water bottles or go to the bathroom.  They didn’t trust to leave me alone with their packs, so one of them had to be present at all times.  One of those people was S.  S invited me back into the group.

K came back to the table and relieved S of her guard duty and went to go fill up her water bottle.  That’s when K invited me back in too.  She said it would be just her and I hiking together.  I figured it was because B and M didn’t want me back.  I was hurt, but I didn’t want to be alone anymore.

I quickly went back to my hotel, packed up my stuff and paid for my room.  I told the host to appologize to Gobinda for me for ditching dinner.  When I got back to K, everyone was there with her waiting for me.  I tightly held onto the shoulder straps of my pack as I nervously appoached them, hoping they wouldn’t roll their eyes and trail away in front of me.  But they didn’t.  They didn’t exactly give me a good hardy “She’s back” welcome either, but I take what I can get.

It wasn’t just them giving me a second chance, I was offering them a second chance, too.  Although, it wasn’t seen that way.  They didn’t need me, but I needed them.  I was just dead weight, inconsequential to them.  I wrapped up my second chance and let it alight my happy.  It was the only thing I had to do it with.  I can stretch out the smallest offerings of kindness and work with them.

Our next stop on the trek was Kagbeni, a stoney mideival town a couple hours away.  A lot of trekkers go home once they reach Muktinah because that’s where the trail turns into a newly built road.  But there are some die-hard trekkers intent on creating their own trails to follow – staying free and clear from the ugliness of the road.  And I was one of them.  Not by choice, but I wasn’t about to tell everyone, “Hey let’s just keep to the road, we’ll get there faster.” That suggestion would have gotten me kicked out of the group again.  ‘Eggshells Melanie, eggshells.’

So I followed these girls on a long, arduous journey.  Hopping from rock to slippery rock over turbulant waters and making our own trail up the side of a mountain.  Only to get lost in Jhong.

These guys don’t see many trekkers.

We ended up on the road.  It had a deserted view of a dusty landscape.  Still, I thought it was beautiful.

We finally made it after several hours.  Nothing is ever simple here.  I could’ve easily fallen to my death several times that day.

Kagbeni turned out to be an awesome town.  Everything was made out of stone and well cared for.  It was a small village, but big in character.  They even had a Yak Donald’s.

Yak Menu:

We stayed at a tea house that housed us in their upstairs loft and served us breakfast and dinner up there.  It was my favorite tea house on the trek.  We stayed for two nights and ate pasta with handpicked vegetables from their garden.  And I was once again, getting along swimmingly with everyone.  The second day of Kagbeni, even K started coming around.

Day 14:

Even though the girls were being nice to me, I still felt compelled to buy these little bottles of booze and keep one in hand at all times.  I taken my little bottle of booze and my pack of Surya cigarettes and followed them up a mountain to see a remote village that had more chickens than it did people.  Then came back down to Kagbani to check out a monestary.

I love doors that lead to nowhere.  They’re way extisential.

If you look closely, you can see this Nepali balancing himself on one leg of his ladder mere inches from slipping off the ledge of a steep cliff.  This was the most suspensful part of my day.

It was a good day.  We celebrated by drinking homemade apricot alcohol and hard apple cider.  The bottles they were served in were old plastic water bottles that needed to be recycled.  They were crumpled and had dirt caked into them.  We drank from the bottles and listened to music on an Ipod.  I even gave a shoulder massage to B.  The world was good.  I was good and happy.

Until the next day…….

Day 15:  Meltdown

We left the serenity of Kagbeni and hit the dirty dusty road to Jomsom, which was also dirty and dusty.  We stopped for a break after three hours of easy trekking and sat on the stoop of a shop to take our packs off.

‘I’m literally homeless here.  Sitting on a stoop, dirt poor and eating cookies with my grubby hands.’

Jomsom was the one and only place that had an ATM and a few of us were tapped out.  Only, the ATM wasn’t working.  K and I decided to stay the night in Jomson while the others went on ahead to Marpha.  We were hoping the ATM would kick on, or at least the banks would open for a money transfer.

I wasn’t too worried about it.  I knew I would get money out sooner or later and I wouldn’t starve.  But, I don’t worry myself with details like that.  I worry about my gallbladder and trying not to piss my friends off.  But I still manage to.  Piss my friends off, that is.

She waited until we were alone in the hotel room to start in on me.  I can’t remember what brought it on.  I did nothing!  If I did, I would own up to it and put it on here for everyone to read.

K – “You’re like a baby when you travel, you need your hand held.”

I was on my own for five days!  No friends, no porter or guide and carrying around a heavy, lonesome heart in a third world country.  Who held my hand for that?!  I wish someone was there to hold my hand.  Maybe I am a baby.  But people want to do things for me, I can’t help it.

K – “You don’t tell us where you want to go or what places you want to see.”

Me – “I don’t have a map…..”

And the trail is linear.  There’s nowhere to go except follow the trail.

K – “I can’t travel with you anymore.  At least not with people you don’t know.  It’s embarrassing.”

K – “M was glad you had dinner plans so you wouldn’t have to join us again.  She was happy we were going to be one day ahead of you.”

Me – “I didn’t know that.”

K – “You should have apologized to us and asked to be let back into the group.  We shouldn’ve had to ask you.  You should’ve been more adult to ask us.”

K – “We had to talk M into letting you back in.”

K – “It’s frustrating traveling with you.”

K – “You don’t communicate.”

K – “I know your personality, I know how you are, but they don’t.  It’s embarrassing.”

K – “Why are you so mopey, what are you moping about?”

Was she serious?  She just ripped me a new one and she was asking me why I was mopey?  I was looking out the window and seeing a group of travelers sitting down for a meal.  All looking happy and laughing.  I envied them.

Me – “I’m fine.  I’m not moping.”

K – “See, this is the communication problem I’m talking about.”

What could I possibly say after that attack?  I’m sorry for who I am?  Hell no!

I sat there and took it.  One mean thing after another – hurtful things!  Not said in a nice way, but an angry temper tantrum way and I just let it happen, saying nothing.   I been in arguments like that before with my mother and learned that there’s no sense arguing with angry people who won’t listen.

We ate dinner together and she read her book the whole time ignoring me.  After dinner she said she would play cards or bananagrams, but she didn’t think I wanted to.  But she was the one ignoring me during dinner!  I don’t understand it, will never understand it.

Its like a mind trip.  An emotional beat down.  And she did it to me every 3 or 4 days.  ‘Time to beat down the dog, she looks too content.’

Its not that I didn’t consider everything she was telling me.  Was I really impartial to the trek and the people I traveled with?  Was it my ignorance that made me indifferent or was it a lack of apathy?  I don’t know and I don’t care.  Ha ha….

Day 16:  Marpha

We got our money out of the ATM and took the unmarked trekkers trail to Marpha.  I’m not a fan of the unmarked trails, but felt too deflated to say anything.  I almost told her that I’d just meet her there, but stopped myself because I didn’t want to hurt her.  I’m incapeable of hurting others – I’m sure I still do in some way, but I have no idea how.

We got lost again, no surprise.  And I found myself standing on a slippery rock with my bare feet getting slashed at by cold icy currents trying to cross rapids.  ‘This is what I get for following along.’

I was relieved when we found the road.  Sweet, sweet windy, dusty road.  The road took us to Marpha which turned out to be another awesome little town.

K and I strolled into a random tea house because of a freshly baked chocolate cake in the window.  We sat down, drank tea and played a game of Jenga.  Coincedentally it was the same tea house B, M and S were staying in.  They ambled on in and sat down with us – shocked and happy that we randomly chose their tea house for lunch.

After lunch, K and I went up a long flight of stairs to check out the monestary.

Here I am tackling the biggest prayer wheel of them all mwahh haha.  Give me strength oh mighty prayer wheel!Even though I was having the most trouble getting along with K, we ended up doing things together just her and I.  We walked down the road to an old Tibetan refugee camp, ignoring the wind and the rain.

 Here horsey.  Nice horsey.

It turned out to be a good day.  No crazy incedences or getting bitched at.  It was as if the night before never happened.  I was truly going crazy.  We had a nice dinner of bananagrams and dal baht with the girls before K and I walked back to the outskirts of Marpha to our tea house.

Day 17:  Cheating the circuit

We got on a brutal, unforgiving bus to Tatopani.  It was packed with people and boxes.  Four hours we clenched our buttcheeks and held on for dear life as the bus leaned towards the edge of a deep abyss.  I got out my Dad’s rosery ring and said my prayers.

Bathroom break.  Than off to the races again.

My favorite part of the bus ride was going through a waterfall.  The bridge was crumbled and eaten away, so the driver went around the bridge, driving into a babbling brook of two feet of water next to a pretty little waterfall that splashed at our rooftop.

All the old rickety plank bridges we went over that were’nt eaten away, had just enough room for the bus and little more.

It felt like a phychadelic Willy Wonka ride.  Nepalese men were hanging off the side of the bus overlooking a sheer drop.  Indian music played on the speakers and every few seconds, we heard the loud, batty, boisterous bus horn.

We arrived in Tatopani unscathed, soaked in the community hot spring, ate dinner and played movie trivia games until it was time for bed.

I don’t know why, but this plant looks erotic to me.  I felt naughty touching it.

It was weird to be in such tropical climate after undergoing the wintery trek we came from.

Day 18:  The serene hike

It was time to get our trek on.  We did a lot of trekking uphill to get to Ghorepani.  I actually did okay on the uphill.  I went slow and steady, not getting overwhelmingly tired and I kept up the pace.  It’s easy when you don’t throw in crazy high altitudes.  My legs were cooperating just fine and I didn’t need a lot of breaks.  I even kept up with the lead girl in front, B.

This is when my journal writing stopped for 4 days, so I can’t remember this leg of the jouney well.  I can’t recall if it taken us one day to get to Ghorepani or two.  No wait, I remember.  It taken us two.  And the scenery was astounding.  I was getting along outstanding with everyone, so there wasn’t really much drama to write home about.  Perhaps I create the drama to make my life more interesting?  Ha ha no, that’s silly talk.

We ate lunch here.

We stayed at a tea house that had some delectable art on the wall.

Day 19-20?  Getting along

We hiked through an amazing Rhodadendrin forest before reaching Ghorapani.

I don’t know if it was the place, maybe the beauty we seen trekking that day, whatever it was, we were all in a high spirited mood come night.

Trekker’s yelled at us to be quiet in our room at the hostel in Ghorapani.  All five of us were brushing our teeth, filtering water and singing in the room K and I shared.  We kept singing all sorts of songs until a woman knocked on our door telling us not to be so loud.  That was fun.

In the morning before dawn, we hiked an hour up to Poon Hill.  It’s a little peak about 3,200 meters high and having no obsticles to obscure our veiw, we were able to see everything.  Including a spectacular sunrise.

We trekked back down to the hostel, ate breakfast and said our goodbye’s to one another.  B, M and S were staying a few more days than K and I, so they continued their journey in the opposite direction.  K and I had to go back down the mountain to Nayapul, a steep decent with a lot of stone stairs.  ENDLESS, ruthless stone stairs.  I was scared of these stairs more than I was of the bus ride.  They ranged from all different shapes and sizes, some so narrow you couldn’t fit your boot onto.  And I was to descend nonstop for 1800 meters in order to catch a bus to Pokarah.

I’m a careful climber.  I know that when a person starts feeling fatigued, they need to rest or they get clumsy.  In the case with these stone steps, getting clumsy meant instant death.  So I played it safe and trudged down the mountain one step at a time, telling myself “these steps are not endless.  They are not endless.  They will stop eventually.”  That’s when a sprite older Chinese woman darted passed me.

“Pfff…..she’s not carrying a pack.”

My ankles started giving out.  The thin twining muscles surrounding my ankles, became putty in my boots.  They were never strong to begin with, but now felt like soft linguini.  Not to mention I was carrying a 20 pound pack.  And I was nervous going down these steps.  Being nervous while going down scary midieval steps for awhile, your legs tend to get wobbly – knee’s knock together from a build up of anxiety.  I felt like a pirate having sea legs.

K stayed ahead of me the whole time, looking back making sure I was still alive.  I was still alive, but ran out of water.  My mouth was so dry – my tongue like sandpaper.  I followed K into a town and stopped at a little store front for water, letting K get far ahead of me.  The young Nepali man selling the water was mentally slow, and had to fetch his mother who insisted I sat down to rest.

“Oh no no thank you, my friend is waiting.  I really can’t stay.”

I was actually scared of K catching me sitting down.  Not just a little scared, but felt real fear!

But it was too late.  She brought me out a chair cushion and put it on a ledge for me to sit.  So I sat and drank half a liter of water in under two minutes.  After those allotted two minutes, K came and found me sitting down – this terrified me.  I didn’t want to get yelled at anymore, I couldn’t handle it.  I started blubbering out excuses as I bolted off my seat.  She was pissed and told me we were going to miss the bus, but it wasn’t the relentless attack I was expecting.  The water and chair cushion turned out to be well worth it.

We made it to civilization.  It was a 10 minute walk from my two minute pseudo rest  – a civilization with taxi’s, not buses.

We hitched a taxi and squished our packs and ourselves into the snug backseat to take us back to Pokarah – ahhhh yes, Pokarah!

Day 21:  Rest day?

My Mother loves to send out email forwards.  She is the forwarding QUEEN.  She sent me this one while I was in Pokarah and I found it fitting.

If you look closely, you can see little dots on the dam.

Upon closer inspection, you see that they aren’t just dots, they’re goats!  They are European Ibex and they like to eat the moss and lichen and lick the salt off the dam wall.

I’m just like these dam goats.  I don’t belong on a huge mountain, it’s not natural.  It looks weird.  Or trek the Himalaya’s – me being inexperienced in well, everything.  But here I am damn it.  Eating up the succulent life of nature and people and culture.  Licking it up with my cat-like sandpaper tongue.  Tramping around in my dusty, ripped pants that can no longer stay up without a belt.

I’m here doing it, defying all odds – and I mean ALL odds.

Day 21 was a day of rest.  A day to lounge around and read.  That’s just what K and I did.  Read in complete unnerving silence.  I know how to read in silence with friends, but this silence was unsettling.  We went out for dinner and I accidentally let slip a brief moment when I was trekking alone, and just mentioning it upset her.  I wasn’t trying to upset her or bring up anything about being separated from the group, but it slipped out – something so innocent and irrelevant sent her spinning.  We had yet another spat over dinner.

When we got back to our room, I felt stifled with just her and I in there.  And I wanted to avoid hearing things like;

K – “I bunked up with you every night because no one else wanted to.”

Me – “I didn’t think my personality was that horrible.”

Or;

K – “You spent all this money on a trip that you’re miserable on.  It’s not for you.  You didn’t prepare yourself.  You should’ve went to Italy instead.  You could’ve spent two nice weeks in Italy.”

Or;

K – “Going hiking with Dave, drinking beer and shooting guns is NOT preparation!”

That last one was hard to argue with…

But I was trekking splendidly, getting along with everyone at the end, but still…it wasn’t enough.

I fled the barrage of attacks and checked out the drum circle happening in the tea house’s restaurant and zoned out to melodic beats and drank Everest beer while K stayed in to read…more.

Someone handed me a drum to beat on, and I chatted with a Norwegian woman.  The atmosphere was fantastic and I soaked up as much of it as I could while listening to a big guy with dreads singing softly and smoothly.

When I got back to my room, the argument started up again.

Me – “I can feel your negative vibes shooting off of you and what I feel is probably 100 times worse than what it really is, but I feel like I can’t say anything to you without pissing you off.  Anything I say, you would get mad at.”

K – “Well maybe we shouldn’t be friends anymore so you don’t have to deal with my negative vibes!”

She shouted this.  A second earlier she was calm and we were having a good honest chat – I thought it safe for me to lay this on her now while she was calm.  No one attacking anyone, no one yelling – just letting out feelings.  Bad idea.

Me – “Jesus Christ!”

K – “And you know what you sound like right now?”

I felt like I was going to puke.  She was laying in bed with her book, straining her neck to yell at me.  I curl up in my sleeping bag, clutching it for protection.

Me – “Oh please don’t say anything hurtful.”

K – “You sound NEEDY!”

Me – “Okay, so I’m needy.  I like having people around.  I don’t like to be alone.”

I didn’t want to look at her, talk to her, be near her, and I was stuck with her – still friggin’ stuck with her.  I closed my eyes and tried to sleep.  I was exhausted.  But about 10 minutes after closing my eyes, I felt a strong force compelling me to get out of that room immediately.  I grabbed my headlamp, my cigarettes and went outside.

Some guy – “Oh sorry I didn’t mean to wake you up.”

He was making noise moving around chairs.

Me – “It’s okay, you didn’t wake me.  I came out here for a smoke.”

Guy – “Oh okay good!  You smoke gange?”

He was a hippie cook from Canada there by himself.

Me – “Absolutely.”

And so I got to smoke Nepali pot the second to last day I was there.

Me – “What’s your name?”

Guy – “Mitchell.”

Me – “Mitchell is the street I live on.  I’m Melanie, nice to meet you.”

We talked non-stop, sharing a blunt and smoking two cigarettes each.  He was just what I needed.

Mitchell – “There’s love everywhere, all around.”

Me – “Yeah, I guess you can find it in animals….nature…..”

Mitchell – “People…..”

Me – “Ha, yeah, sometimes.”

Mitchell – “No really, it’s there.  It’s always there.”

I crawled back under my sleeping bag, clicked off my headlamp and felt that something, or someone up there was looking out for me.

Day 22:  Back to Katmandu

Journal Entry:

I’m sitting on the rooftop of Family Peace House.  K is napping.  All she wants to do is sleep.  We had a long bus ride.  I went on Facebook and sent Holly and Stephanie messages telling them I’m ready to go home.  Now I need to go buy souvenires for everyone, but I don’t want to go back out there.  My legs are sore and there’s too many ways to die out there.  I just snapped a branch off a potted plant and cleaned my ears with it.

I’m so gross.

Today at the bus depot, there was a fresh band of tourists there – lots of them.  One British woman came out of the “better” bathroom and said it was disgusting.

Brit – “That was the most dreadful bathroom ever!”

I started laughing and went over to the poorer unlit bathroom and squatted down to go.  I can go anywhere now as long as there’s a hole.

After K woke up, we went out to dinner and shopped for souvenires.  I was meandering by a store front and noticed they were selling Gorka beer for 150 rupees instead of the usual 300 and that’s when I fell and twisted my ankle.  I fell on the jagged pavement with all it’s uneven dips and holes and landed in a gutter.  I sprained my ankle bad – really bad.  I felt lightheaded and my eyes spotted over in darkness.

K – “Want me to hold your stuff while you get up?”

She held out her hand toward me.  I felt there was no possible way I could get up, no way, no how, not happening.  A concerned Nepali man stopped and asked if I was okay.

I thought to myself, ‘I better take her hand now before she takes it away.’  I would have felt too embarrassed to ask for the hand of the kind Nepali man while my friend was standing right there next to him.  Her hand was supposed to be for my stuff, not me.  But even without my bags, I would’ve still needed a hand getting up and knew that this moment was my only chance for one.  This realization made me hideously depressed.

I grabbed her hand and as fast as I could, stood up and let go.

K – “Oh,…”

I limped back to the hostel with my tail between my legs.  I laid myself down on the bed and openly cried like a baby.  I cried because it hurt so bad, and cried because I had to cheat K for her hand to help me – that hurt more than my ankle.

I wiped away my tears and thought about Mitchell, Angie and Gobinda.  I wondered if they all found something terribly wrong with me too.

“What’s wrong with me?  Really, what is it?”

Then I thought about the last few days with S, B and M – seemingly enjoying my company.  Angie helping me with my water bottle, Gobinda smudging his tilock on my cheek, Mitchell laughing at my jokes.  And then there’s my friends back home – and all the people I’ve met throughout my life that knew and loved me.

How could this trip have gone so badly?  How could I have been so unaccepted?

K said I was needy.  Maybe during the trip I was reaching out for something that wasn’t there – a friend.

But how did this happen?  Why?  I don’t understand it and don’t think I ever will understand it.  Maybe when I’m an old lady and can accept the things that happen as random, non-personal events.  Nothing can be personal if nobody really knows me, and who really knows me?

Maybe nobody really knows anyone, but can feel brief moments of connection.  And those brief moments can string together – happening more frequently until there’s just a solid line of understanding and trust.  The personality is just a facade, but the love is real.

During the trek I managed to sever this connectedness making those brief moments few and far between.

There are always two sides of the story.  Maybe I deserved my bashings, who knows.  I’ll be ready to accept that, or at least try to understand it.  But then again, its probably best to let it go.  Our friendship is nearly irreparable, but she’s always around.  Always inviting my best friends to do things with her and purposely leaving me out – right in front of me.  ‘Let it go Mel, let it go.’

At least she doesn’t read my blog.

I can’t grasp this.  I’ve never been able to.  But it is what it is.

I wanted to end this post on a high note, but is there one?  It’s turning out to be a Greek tragedy.  And writing about it is my catharsis.

With all said and done, I’m still glad I went.  There’s tragedy everywhere in the world, at least no one died in mine.  And I can say it wasn’t exactly horribly tragic.  Not really, anyway.

Its April 14’th, Monday.  Ten days after getting back from my trip.  The fresh stings are fading, my blistered toes healing.  I had trouble picking up this post again after my first initial purge.

I had trouble continuing it because I wasn’t sure how my friends would take reading it.  It’s kind of humiliating and I don’t shed the best light on K.  Writing something like this is hard.  Publishing it is even harder.  And hearing my friends responses to it – dreadful.

I’ve been drinking just about everyday I been back – going out to bars, smoking pot while hiking with friends, backyard camp fires.  I’m re-aligning myself.  Trying not to feel so autistic with people.  I’m pretty much there.  I could do without the pot, but a little medication to help grease the wheels of change never hurt.

I’m going to have to change soon.  To slide into an adult persona before I sink too much, lodging myself into a perpetual transition period filled with booze and empty pockets.  It’s time for Melanie to grow up.

My list of To Do’s:

Start my own business

Move out of my parents house

Go to school

It’s hard to stop  writing this damn post.  I keep thinking it’s going to get better, that it needs a bit more explaining.  But this is my life.  There is no proper ending for the telling of my life.  I should’ve just ended it with day 21, but I was at Cheshire Coffee getting high off my electronic cigarette and bubble tea with tapioca balls.

I’ll end it here.

The end.

This post is so long that an error messege popped up when I tried using the spell check.

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Filed under Annapurna Circuit, journal, Travel

I’m back and don’t feel like doing much

my other hobby i

Well…….I’m back.

I got back yesterday at around 3 pm and the first thing I did was throw my smelly, dirty trekking pack in my bedroom and high tailed it to the mall to buy a new video game.  No shower, no change of clothes, it was just me in all my glistening oily splendor going to the mall to walk amongst clean shiny people as if I was one of them.

The whole trip reminded me of playing an RPG (role playing game).

I would be lost, following animal trails instead of people trails, wading through rivers with strong currents, getting run down by packs of mules and all I could think was, “Why experience Real Life what you can experience in a Game?”

I haven’t showered in, well, gee I can’t remember the last time I showered.  It was in Katmandu before I got on a plane to take me to Delhi, than to Brussels followed by my last flight to Newark NJ.  It was a 30 hour plane trip, but went by relatively fast thanks to Xanex and vodka.  Riding on those flat moving walkways in the airport while doped up on no sleep and pharmaceuticals can be pretty trippy.

I’m laying in bed.  1:37 pm.  My job is already calling me, but I have yet to pick up the phone.  My plan today is to eat, finally take a hot shower and shave everything, lotion everything and put on some clean dry clothes.  Then, I don’t know.  Play my game some more?

I’ll write about my trip, but I want to make it one long blog post instead of splitting it up.  I kept a journal and I have pic’s and a fresh vivid memory of the whole thing, so I can hold off on writing it for a bit.

I need to rest and unfurl.  Disentangle a bit.  Wait for my writing capabilities to effloresce (awesome word) before I can tackle one of the most emotional experiences of my life.

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Filed under Annapurna Circuit, journal, Travel

What I’m bringing to the Annapurna Circuit

hiking way - escursionisti

Image via Wikipedia

This is my Nepal prepping / packing list.  Its goes astray from my normal skrewy posts about my everyday antics.  You can skip it without missing much.

In three days I’m leaving to go to Nepal for a month.  Twenty of those days are going to be spent trekking the Annapurna Circuit.  If you’re planning a similar trip, here’s a few things you need to do before you leave.

Go to a travel clinic.  The doctor will give you vaccines for Typhoid and Hep A.  He will give you a certificate (if you don’t already have one) proving that you been vaccinated.  Bring the certificate with you on your trip.  He will also give you a prescription for Cipro – if you don’t have insurance, get the generic ciproflaxacin.  If you get sick off of contaminated water, it kills the bacteria in your body.  Ciproflaxacin costs $22.  Typhoid and hep A are both under $100 (although I’m unsure because I haven’t gotten the bill yet).

Oh and make sure you’re set up for automatic bill pay at your bank so you won’t have to worry about late payments on anything.

Get travel insurance.  I got mine from worldnomads.com and opted for the Explorer package.  It’s $114 for three weeks.  Print out the certificate of insurance and take it with you.

Next is my packing list.

I never trekked before or been on any long hikes.  I had zero equipment, so I had to buy everything brand new.  I bought most of my items on Amazon, cause, well, Amazon rocks!

I bought the Kelty Trekker 3950 on Amazon for $110 free shipping.  It’s light weight and perfect for the trip.  It has a compartment for a camelbak and a hole for the hose – very convenient!

I added a few reflectors to it.  You should add reflectors to your pack even if it’s just to spot it easier in the airport luggage rack.

I bought my boots at EMS.  Eastern Mountain Sports = big bucks.  Fortunately for me they were having a clearance sale that week.  I’m seriously a lucky bitch sometimes.  So I bought these Bad Mamma Jammas:

I didn’t even have to look at any other boot.  I made eye contact with them and it was love at first sight.  I love the color!  They are boots fit for a sexy anime character.  That’s the look I’m going for – sexy anime Melanie.  The guy at the store talked me into buying inserts called happy feet.  They’re good for my goofy flat feet, but they set me back $40.  I also bought memory foam antibacterial inserts to go on top of my happy feet inserts ($10).  So basically, I went all out for my delicate tootsies.

For socks I spent $120 on 6 pairs of liner socks and 3 pairs of smartwool socks.  I couldn’t find a cheaper deal anywhere.

When trekking the Himalayas, the weather varies from subtropical to subzero depending on what altitude you’re in.  Packing light is crucial for a trek like this, but also tricky to find clothes that are both breathable and warm.

I’m going to Nepal in March.  From what I read on the net, temp ranges from 0 to 68 Fahrenheit.  Wicking shirts and layers are a must.

I bought 3 short sleeve wicking shirts, 2 thin long sleeve and 2 heavy long sleeve.  This may be too many to carry, but I haven’t figured out which one’s I should leave out.  Nah screw it, I’ll just take them all.  I’m also bringing a windbreaker that crushes up nicely into my pack.

For pants, you really only need one pair.  I’m bringing the kind that can turn into shorts by zipping off the legs.  Most outdoor places sell them.  I’m also bringing one heavy and one light thermal long underwear.  The heavy thermos can double for jammies and I’ll only wear them during the day for the high altitude hikes.

Most of my clothes are shoved into dry packs that I can compress down into a manageable size.

I’m bringing 6 pairs of underwear rolled up and shoved in a ziplock bag (also compressible).

Two sports bra’s

Glove liners and wool fingerless gloves that convert into mittens.  Mittens are warmer than gloves, but I have my fingers if I need them.

A small winter hat.  I’m debating if I should bring my wool hat, but it’s so bulky.

Neck tube/face mask

Travel journal and Pen

Moleskin for blisters

Sleeping pills

Sleeping bag, sleeping bag liner.  The tea houses have blankets, but they are primary used by the porters.  The porters will give up their blanket for you, but they will get sick and we don’t want that.  However, I won’t be hiring a porter, so maybe I can use their blanket?

Quick dry travel towel

A trowel.  I hope I don’t need it.

6 peel and stick body warmers that last all day.

Travel medic kit

Eat’N Tool

Lemon-lime sport drink tablets

A few packets of Vplenish vitamin boost

A hanky for my nose

A little thing of tissues

Hand sanitizer!  This is a must if you don’t want to get sick.

A small water filter that immediately filters water.  $50 EMS.

Head lamp

Sodium Chlorite tablets for water.  This woman I talked to says they work great but take four hours to kick in – hence the water filter.

An LCD flashlight keychain

Extra cord

One liter platypus bottle with hose

One liter Nalgene bottle

Sunscreen

Moisturizer

Chapstick

Hot topic’s dry shampoo.  This stuff works and I never seen it sold anywhere else.  It’s only $8.

A little spray bottle of Rosewater.  It’s multipurpose.  Works as a disinfectant and deodorizer.  Works on cuts and scrapes, too.

My coolpix camera

My Ipod Nano and Iphone (for music)

Headphones

4 extra batteries

Earplugs

Cloth tape for my toes.  I may need to wrap them to prevent blisters.  I thought of this myself and not sure if it’s normally something trekkers do.

Compressed, biodegradable baby wipes

Stuff for my period

I’m bringing 20 playtex sport body wipes

Travel deodorant

Shampoo / body wash

Toothbrush / toothpaste

Razor.  Because I can’t stand hairy armpits!

Comb

Sandels

Pocket mirror

Tweezers

Pomegranate flavored fiber packets

My nana’s old whistle

I’m a smoker, but switched to electronic cig’s 8 months ago.  Since I can’t bring them, I’m bringing a tobacco pipe.  It’s cool looking.

Waterproof matches

A sun hat

Sunglasses

Pancho

Small book for rainy days

Altimeter

A bunch of carbiners

I’m going to get two hiking poles in Katmandu and a down jacket.  You can actually buy everything you need in Katmandu, but I’m a newbie world traveler, so I like to arrive already prepared.  One of the girls I’m going with is getting her vaccines in Katmandu.  That’s a little too brave for my Connecticut blood.

I think that’s it.  It sounds like a lot, but my pack is still not very heavy.  That’s why I won’t need a porter.  A porter would laugh at my pack if they had to carry it!  Did you know that their cargo can also consist of people?!  They carry people on their backs!  Not in a rickshaw, but in an actual basket attached to their back.  I’m hoping to take a pic of one.

Whew, okay I’m done with my list.  Now I can relax.  I was packing as I made the list, so I’m all set.

You can rent a locker in Katmandu or another town similar to store everything you won’t need for your trek.  Like souvenirs and extra clothes.

By the way, I really don’t know what I’m doing.  I’m no expert, but soon will be!

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Filed under Annapurna Circuit, Travel