‘Oh it’s such a perfect day, I’m glad I spent it with you.’
Were curled up on our huge beanbag in front of the open fire. Our faces hot, breathing quiet and slow, both mesmerized by the glowing mountain of scarlet coal in the hearth. The playful licks of colour and wild energy almost convinces me it’s a living creature. We start to dose and wake up peacefully an hour later. Even in his sleep he clings to me like a baby monkey, terrified if without such extreme skin contact I may disappear. We have this ordeal every week when he returns from his fathers. I’m pinned down showered in kisses and told all the exciting things he’s been up to. Oh so much to say! I turn everything off and we retire to bed.
He notices the stars through my mesh curtain and we sing to them. We hide under the sheets from the monsters and compete for the quietest ‘I love you’. Right now, after three carnage, wonderful, yet very long days, I’m Mama again, for my lion cub has returned.
I point to the constellation that makes up orion’s belt and explained how it was my Sandhya and her two best friends. How we sat on the side of a mountain top and she explained the stars. She is one and will never be separated from her dearest two. I’ll now always see her in the sky. That sweet, young, curious girl. I cuddles her as I did the other Nepalese women and fell asleep in their arms like my long lost family. An elder lady platted my dreadlocks and sang me old lullabies. This book still smells of the campfire.. I can hear the singing..
Max was playing the melodica, David breathing the mountain air are visibly transforming into a wild man back in his home village. I radiated happiness. Every pore of my body screaming to me, glowing. We stopped for lunch before performing at the first school. Immediately, the music began. Henni carefully caressing the strings of her violin, David matching her on guitar, Mark vocally bringing everything together and dear Max molding the sounds with a beat on the cajon. Villagers gathered and I indulged in the beauty of it. The sun kissing my shoulders and people curiously peering, moving closer. This magical musical travelling group. Every second was music. My surreal journey. For me, after this terrifying year, this journey was so much more. It was a trip to cure the mind and soul as well as seeing Max and to experience his life. It was worth more than he’ll ever understand.
I kiss his rosy pouted lips and every inch of his face and roll over to encourage sleep. He buries his face into my half dreaded mess of hair and curls himself into my back. He’s happy to be back in our haven. In bed, watching the stars, just me and my cub. His breathing deepens, he’s gone. I think back to my time away. It was only a week but that short period combined with my own thoughts I’m sure has changed things for the better. Even when I’m irritated, upset, stressed, I still feel that stronger happiness so close. It’s more relevant and things truly are incredible. I feel mindful and it’s working. Appreciation, positive, even food tastes better. The ticking seconds are sweeter, because you can feel them. Less worry for future days or previous mistakes. These thoughts are pointless. Just to be.
After lunch my magnificant new performing friends danced, sang and performed their way up the mountain. Stopping to give sweets to the young and cigarettes to the old. They played infront of schools, new friends and villagers. Children circled us giggling at the slapstick style and homemade props. A family of mice that are stuck in their homes after the earthquake and have to dig their way out to find food. The reaction was heartwarming and my face hurt from smiling.
We stopped for a smoke and some tea after the first performance and eventually started out trek. The first day was difficult as I was travel sick. After hours of vomiting, shaking and generally nearly reaching the end of my life, I held on and managed to not dizzily fall to my death off the side of the cliffs. I made it almost unharmed. I’ve been for walks or to the gym whilst being ill but this was a different scale.
All along the way we continuously stopped for tea and cigarettes. We played and danced and played. I fell in love with my trekkers, with the mountains, the villagers but most importantly I fell back in love with myself. It grew darker and the climb got steeper until we couldn’t see our own feet.No lights and on these tiny trails we began to climb faster desperate to rest. The last leg was the hardest. David took my hard and whispered he was already too drunk and needed a guide, using my illness as an excuse. We made it to the first nights stop and the entire village had gathered around a campfire for us to entertain. We drank rakshi wine and smoked weed, sang and connected. Not only with the people, but with the earth I dug my toes into, the way of living and the air in my lungs. I was comfortable here. Materialess.
We ate chicken and rice and I took a moment out to sit alone under the sky. Bar one house light it was pitch black and the illuminated sky was indescribable, it shined right into my soul causing tears to roll down my cheeks. There aren’t words for how I felt that night.
Earlier that day I shed another small tear. In last year’s earthquake the villages in these Himalayan foothills were completely shattered. In another school we performed at there was a group of men digging the foundations of a new school building. People help neighbors and everyone joins in. A family home takes ten years to build by villagers. In sixty seconds hundreds of homes were destroyed and lives taken.
In the foundations of this building a small boy, probably Noah’s age played in the holes in the ground. Being brought up here he knew not to go near the side of the mountain edge. My son clumsily not be trusted. I imagine Noah here. How he’d run and dance with the school children and simply adore the play. I suddenly need him here, at my breast, arms linked tight around my neck.
On the first night I nearly adopted a young girl called Dawa Dolma Tamong, a six year old diamond that drew pictures for me and taught me to write in Nepalese in this book. She wore my scarf and we danced like fairies around the fire. Whilst we danced there was a shudder. An earthquake. I looked across that vast valley and what little light there was from neighboring villages disappeared. Dawa shot to my side and Sandhya translated that she was terrified. Last year she at home when it happened, her school lost pupils, she lost family. Puts our first world problems into perspective doesn’t it?
We continued to party until I was ready to collapse. I fell asleep cuddling my sweet Sandhya never wanting my time here to end. I awoke feeling ready to take on our eight hour trek. It’s always great when you feel you won’t drop dead before the journey ends.
We had tea and biscuits for breakfast and the women laughed as I applied glitter my face as well as others in the travelling team. I had another minute outside alone. David joined me. Our conversations are of those I will never forget. He spoke of the schools and the quality of children’s education. He fell to tears pointing at some old prayer flags tangled around a tree. “Colours are joy”, he said. “And these children do not know the colours.” He looked me in the eye and called me beautiful, I told him not to be ridiculous until he asked, “is this a beautiful part of the world?” I replied that he knew how much I felt for this land. His response.. “Well then.. you have to be a beautiful person to understand real beauty.” And I understood.
After lunch the children performed a play and we said our goodbyes. the sky was cloudless and I was again overwhelmed. It’s a challenge to put it into words. Just go, see for yourself. Go without a guide and feel it. We stopped at a flat grassland and we sat circled. This time gave us an opportunity to explain how we’ve felt the past few days. It boiled down to loved. For me looking around the circle, I was thrilled to have had the absolute pleasure of sharing such close time with these new friends. The airport was the second time I’d met Max. As for everyone else it was a first. I found myself meditating with them. Shutting my eyes I could feel gravity weighing my down down, connecting me with the mountains. I swear the jungle was calling my name and I could see the sun so bright through my closed eyelids. The air was clear in my lungs and I could have sat there forever. It was pure and with every breath I connected.
We trekked for a long while and found ourselves at the second house just before dawn. David explains how in the culture, having western visitors means luck is on it’s way and to treat their visitors like God’s. The family sacrificed two chickens so we could eat meat. I cringed at the screaming animals and explained I’m not so comfortable being a Goddess. Still tasted ace though. Again, a night of laughter, rakshi and dancing.
I told everyone I met about my boy. Keeping a small photo in the side of my sock to pass around. Through Sandhya’s translation I spoke to the women of breastfeeding, growth and his clean soul. They wanted to listen, talk and share stories. Palms were read and tales told.
We played card games and laughed hard. Another fire was lit and I was explained the logistics of what this travelling theatrical group are trying to achieve. Art Haus are wanting to create a liminal space to put the sacred back into a disenchanted world. How utterly stunning is that? To travel for nothing. To just love, entertain and connect people. Simple and creative. To create magic.
David was certain we wouldn’t make the bus on time but with minutes to spare we secured a tiny spot on the roof rack for a four hour journey back to Kathmandu. We walked extremely fast. We hadn’t showered for days and when we’d arrived back to Max’s, I emptied my boots, dropped my backpack and we headed straight out for the most well deserved burger and glass of wine I’d ever had. More so than after a hungover run half marathon. I smelt like a three day trek, homemade wine, campfire and cigarettes. The burger certainly didn’t mind. I’m certainly no traveler but I lust for it. Next time Noah is coming, wherever we end up.
That was only half of it. There aren’t enough words to describe what happened out there. So thank you to Kathmandu, the mountains, sweet Max and the stunning people I’ve met. There’s always the next adventure..
You’ve broadened my mind, you’ve changed my head for the better. I’m so excited for the beauty this year holds. My baby starts to snore and I’m back to earth. His face shines in the moonlight and I smile. Until next time.
Mother, Lover, Adventurer,