11/11/09: Annapurna Circuit, Nepal
Day 8: Rest day in Manang
Hi! I’m alive! In case you’re curious, the reason I haven’t been writing all week is because whenever we’re not trekking or eating, I’m basically lying fully cocooned in my sleeping bag – usually asleep. If you do the math, this means I’ve spent about 16 hours a day sleeping. This is only a slight exaggeration. The energy Kevin has, I really have no idea where it comes from.
Anyway, as today was our “rest day” in Manang, we naturally took the opportunity to climb up another 500 meters (Kevin’s best guess – my spatial reasoning skills are quite poor) on a side trip in order to eat some questionable looking little black balls chased by some even more questionable looking yellow liquid. But I’m getting ahead of myself. (I bet you’re hooked though, right?)
We did this climb in order to meet a famous 93-year-old Buddhist monk known as the “100-rupee monk” who lives in the mountainside near Manang. The reason we did this is because this monk blesses all the trekkers who come up to see him, and in my own little distorted high-altitude version of reality, this meant that if we were blessed by him, we would be able to get over the Thorong-La Pass successfully. (We’ll see if this is true in three days.)
After making the hour and a half climb up, we took off our shoes and went inside. I don’t know what to call his place – it was a small room, about fifty square feet, carved into the mountain. The 100-rupee monk sat cross-legged on the ground behind a small table. There were pictures everywhere and lots of little trinkets that previous trekkers had left behind (a clock shaped like Australia, some small Canadian flag patches) – it felt a bit like a really tiny dorm room – minus the whole Buddhist monk thing.
We knelt down in front of the monk and bowed our heads, waiting to receive his blessing. It was at this very spiritual moment in time that he said, “Camera?” and motioned towards the bench on his left. Camera. Of course. Silly me. I got up, took out the camera and went over to the bench in order to take a video of Kevin receiving his blessing. (He did the same for me a few minutes later.) Despite eating the questionable seed things, drinking the questionable yellow liquid from our palms and not having a single clue about what was going on, it was a really amazing experience. The whole thing took less than 10 minutes but I think will be one of the things I remember most vividly from this trip. He said a prayer and blessed us, tying a small rope necklace around our necks and then placing a small wooden box against our foreheads, muttering something I didn’t understand but fervently hoped meant we would be imbued with some sort of super-Buddhist energy.
We left his little dorm and headed back down to Manang, and for me at least, I felt better about the pass than I have for days. I was remembering the few words I understood of his blessing: “Good luck, Thorong-La Pass. Me 93 – you good luck 93.” If that can’t get us through, I don’t know what will.
Picture of the Day: At Kevin’s request, color-accent maroon against a smoking mountain.