I stood at the airport, saying goodbye to my friend Sagar, similar to my goodbye about 11 years ago. This time his English is better. He now has a wife and a beautiful young daughter. He was in his late teens the last time I saw him. Now a grown man with responsibilities. The main one being working in Dubai to help support his family. He made the supreme effort to get emergency leave to at least get one night to connect with me.
It was surreal. Spending time wth him and his family seem so normal. Like I see them everyday. It did not help me avoid a tearful goodbye to his parents, yet I was slightly more stoic with Sagar and his wife and daughter. I can’t believe it will be eleven more years until I see him again. Some solace.
Nepal continues to give me more than I can imagine. Did i really retrace steps from 17 years ago and complete a grueling 20 day trek to visit Namche Bazaar and the highest mountains in the world? Did I really get to connect wth the Nepalese people in the carefree manner they connect with people? Did I really get to play music with Sherpas? Did I really get the most mind blowing epic sunset over Everest and the Gokyo valley? Did I really get to revisit temples and holy places? Some I remember. Some I forget?
Was i able to explore rural and wild Nepal, by myself, with a just a belief I could pull it off? Again?
Was I really able to spend five days with Sagar’s family, connecting wth them the best way I know how? Language gap and all?
Did i really walk through Thamel, reliving old memories, yet feeling detached with reality? So many hopes and desires for a Nepal that serves all? Not just a few?
Was I pensive knowing that no, you can’t step in the same river twice? But yes, you can be forced to re-learn that many times in your life.
Did I remember the value of living in the moment, staying present and valuing what I have? Of course.
If you can step away from your travel goals. Your photo goals. Your fun goals. Nepal continues to affect you in a deep way. Slowly seeping into your soul when you’re not paying attention. It could be the laugh and smile of the gold toothed Sherpa shop owner, or the gentle kiss from Sagar’s daughter to say goodbye.
Strip away changes and growth and earthquakes and tourism and mountains and pictures and pain and struggle and confusion and despair and wanting and hoping for a better life for all.
Strip all of that away and zero in on the amazing spirit of the Nepalese people and the deep love I have for this place and how it affects me. How Namche’s ashes will always be here and no matter what, a huge piece of my heart will always remain here. And THAT is not a dream. Goodbye Nepal. For now…..