We took the time until Aru got back from work late at night to go visit Elliot who was chillin in Thamel waiting for his Indian visa to go through. We were stoked to see an old friend from Cal, but I got an even better surprise (sorry Elliot, but you can't compete with this) at the used bookstore next door to his hotel right before we met him
. In Thailand, while whiling the time away on Railay Beach, I'd picked up the only interesting-looking book I could find in English, Rama II
by Arthur C. Clarke, at the bungalow hostel. I do like science fiction and actually did recall reading the first book in the Rama series as a kid, but Rama II
was quite a silly book and when I made Ryan read it after me, it provided nothing but hours of laughs discussing the intricacies of the story (don't even get me started on our mile-long list of Dan Brown discussion points) and also left me with an insatiable desire to read the last two books in the series. On the Everest trail I'd told Ryan it was fate that I'd find the next book in this random science fiction series soon thereafter and, lo and behold, the only book by prolific ACC in the tiny science fiction section of the travelers used book store was the third in the series, and silliest to that point, Gardens of Rama
!!! I was yelping for joy for about ten minutes and you know what right now I'm rereading what I just wrote and it all sounds preposterous, inane, and inconsequential, but I tell you it's those simple little things while traveling that can give the greatest joy. (Editor's note: as of this writing on a two-day cargo cruise from Ukraine to Turkey I've not yet found Rama Revealed
, the last and no doubt silliest in the series, but it's not for lack of looking in near every bookstore along the way. Ryan thinks it's because the series is ridiculous and no one wants to sell it but I know it's because Rama will Reveal itself when I
am good and ready.)
We caught up with Elliot that night and agreed to meet again the next day again to plan some travel together
. Despite being engrossed in Rama late into the evening after we said good night to Elliot, I woke again early that morning: old trail habits die hard. After some debate and an exhaustive three hours of internet and telephone research, we decided to amend the itinerary again back to a plan that we'd earlier abandoned: we were going to Pakistan! (should we be able to work out the formidable visa and timing issues) At first thing looked like they might be rough as the Pakistani Consulates in both Kathmandu and Delhi couldn't seem to help themselves fro hanging up on us whenever we tried to gather such sensitive information as their hours of operation. They even got wise to my calling in different accents, and the hangups rained down still. But why travel if you're not going to hope for the best, and we got our plane tickets to Delhi right before Elliot rushed off to the Indian Consulate and US Embassy to sort out his 2-day-expired Nepali visa/cut the line (twice)/get issued the wrong sort of Indian visa. We tried calling the Pakistani Consulate once more to ask for the phone number of their base in Lahore, but after being told that the information was not available today but try tomorrow, we figured to cut the losses and phone bills and just figure it out on the fly.
For out last night in Kathmandu, Elliot packed to ship his huge bags of Base Camp supplies home, I read Rama, and Ryan stroked his beard until Aru came to meet us in town and we tried to satisfy our jonesing for Mexican food, and without
yak cheese, to a reasonable level of satisfaction. Good fun and convo and the next morning it was time to big adieu to Kathmandu.Moral of the Story
: Gardens of Rama
is some dynamite kokomo.
Landing on a real runway again was a lovely change of pace, though we weren't quite back in Kanses yet Toto as to retrieve our backpacks we had to wait until the wagon toting out bags behind the minibus from the plane arrived at the "Baggage Claim" sign by the field to clamber aboard for the packs. Aru's ex-soldier (Gurkha) father met us back outside her place and quizzed us about our adventures on Sagarmatha/Chomolangma (as the Nepalis/Tibetans call it) before letting us loose on the shower and washing machine, both of which almost certainly did not wake up that morning expecting that sort of abuse.