November 1, 2009: Pokhara, Nepal

We are at the Olive restaurant in Lakeside when the silver Toyota van pulls up across the street. It’s time to head out. I have just finished a wonderful plate of penne pasta with homemade pesto sau ce a nd a glass of wine. Tineke is just finishing her single shot of espresso coffee. We are now prepared to head out.

The four of us make our way to the van. Our friend Mahendra, who has arranged the van, leads the way, followed by Tineke, Gyanenrda and myself. We pile in and the driver takes us to the Snowland where our packed luggage sits ready to go in the lobby. A few minutes later after some goodbyes to the staff and we are on the road stopping by Mahendra’s shop to let him out and say goodbye to his wife Chandra.

The road to Kusma is blacktop but with some rough sections. There is a reasonable amount of traffic so we have to bide our time when behind a slow moving bus or truck and wait for our turn to overtake. A friendly toot from the bus ahead and a hand outstretched is our signal to pull out and pass. It always looks like a bit of a crap-shoot to me when doing this but nonetheless we always make it back to our side of the road again before another vehicle comes towards us. It is exciting but not frightening and I’m always watching the road ahead to see what adventures await us just around the corner we seem to be barreling into.

Soon enough we are in Kusma which is a bustling place filled with people and vehicles of all nature. We wind our way through various streets and eventually arrive at the door of the Bandana Hotel where Gyanendra has pre-arranged some rooms for us. Just as well as all the remaining rooms are booked up for a small conference on solar energy. Solar energy plays a significant role in Nepal.  Even though the vast amount of power is hydro electric, many locations remain too far removed from a river to afford the transmission towers necessary to bring the power to them. So they learn to live with a much smaller power demand and rely on the sun to recharge their banks of batteries. So a conference on new solar technologies in an important event here and is well attended.

Our room is quite good and has an attached bathroom – this is a luxury in Kusma which has few if any tourists. There is even a TV in the room with 48 channels of Nepali soap operas (well, maybe not 48). We have some tea and then later some dal bhat and it’s time to retire for the night.

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