Trip Start May 20, 2005
18Trip End Jun 10, 2006
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Listening to: Pixies, Surfer Rosa
Hi y'all. I got some complaints about the lack of pictures on the last blog. I'm in Goa and the internet connection is slow. So, here's some popcorn stories and more photos.
The Million Dollar Lama
Before making the main pass on the Annapurna trek, its recommended that you spend an acclimatization day in the old salt trading post of Menang at about 4,000 meters. The people of Menang benefit from a royal waiver allowing them trade without paying tax
After a few days on the trail Menang began to sound like a magic city where anything could be obtained. Yak steak, movies, replacements for gear, massage, (expensive) e-mail, etc. I found it to be a bit too much frankly. Maybe it was the piece of apple crumble pie the size of my head with a half-liter of custard.
The mountain mecca of Menang also provided the opportunity to visit the hermit-Lama on your rest day. Dispensing his good wishes and prayers on trekkers nervous about making the pass without getting altitude sickness, the lama's pad was a stone hut on a cliffside about an hour's climb from Menang.
The lama ran a good gig in his little hut. As excited as a bunny rabbit as soon as trekkers showed up, the old man would yell out and invite you in. The mood quickly changed to reverent as each person kneeled in front of his alter. There was a prayer, some juniper water to be drunk and wiped in your hair and, as a special memento of the experience, your very own string necklace. Then it was paytime.
I was astounded at how anxious the Lama was about getting his money. Running out on an old Lama on the side of the mountain without paying is bad form- or so I was taught. And for 100 Rupees ($1.25) to boot.
Then I got to thinking about the big picture. This Lama was probably clearing about $10,000 dollars a year. 'Not much' say some of you with big jobs in big cities but its a going concern of some order in Nepal. Can you imagine his costs? None. Maybe the occasional bender in the sin city of Menang. After a few years, I expect the Lama to break out and live the high life in Kathmandu or the Costa del Sol. Maybe I'll meet him one day, in a casino with two lovely ladies dispensing with his newfound wisdom- always bet on safron.
Why the French Really Hate the English
-or How to Make a Monkey a Frog
The depth of English history manifests itself in many ways. Local sayings and slang is one of them. Learning what expressions such as 'Bob's Your Uncle' and 'Fanny Pack' mean have added spice to my life
During the Napoleonic wars (1793-1815), the British feared an invasion from the Continent. Things looked grim. French ships prowled the costal areas. Off one such town, Hartlepool, (although there is heated debate about what town), a French ship ran aground and began to sink.
In the washed up wreckage, lay a lone, wet and confused survivor. The ship's monkey- dressed in a little French military uniform. Sadly, no Fez.
Clearly this was the vanguard of an invasion force and the people of Hartlepool must do their part for king and country.
Not knowing what a Frenchman looked like, the town put the monkey on trial for treason as a human. Unfortunately, the good people of Hartlepool did not speak French- no that the monkey did either. The trial was swift. They hung the monkey as a French spy and a legend was born.
To this day, the fans of opposition football teams can be heard singing the 'Who Hung the Monkey?' song. It also makes for a good expression.
(As told by Joe on Kalymnos)