As soon as I returned to the UAE, I immediately misplaced the little black journal but just found it again. So here we go...
WEDNESDAY (Day 3) 6:47 am -- Pohkara
Once he confirmed I was not a Muslim and that I was, in fact, from America, the manager at the Mountain View Hotel felt comfortable enough with me to go on a racist diatribe about Pakistanis, Bahrainis, Indians and in particular, people from the Indian state of Kerala.
And at that point, I was only half done with my morning coffee.
"They are all black snakes..." he said without thinking twice.
"Mate, I'm going to stop you right there," I barked back. "I have personal friends from Kerala and I think they are pretty amazing people. You can't just go throwing around remarks like that. You just met me."
The manager's subordinates stood in awkward silence while he quickly changed the subject. I was just having my deluxe breakfast of two fried eggs and a soggy piece of toast. No one asked him to sit down next to me. The manager also knew my trekking guide was on his way so he realized this was no time for a showdown.
Later on, the manager made me pose for photos with him while I checked out near the front desk. He took the photos with his 2002 Nextel mobile phone. The ones that look like mini walkie-talkies. It was proof of the top rate operation he was running there.
He also asked me at least three different times to write a review of the hotel on TripAdvisor. I told him not to worry and that I would write a glowing report, sans the cold shower water, multiple power outages and racist banter.
I had no more time to deal with the country's tourist industry. It was time to hit the trail.
WEDNESDAY (Day 3) 5:10 pm -- Ulleri
He was a terribly nice guy but I think my trekking guide's name was 'Moron' but I couldn't be too sure. He was very reserved and quiet. I asked him to repeat his name to me several times when we met but after such a long time, I realized it would just be uncomfortable for me to ask for clarification again.
So anyway, Moron and I started our hike this morning.
They said the first would be easy but it was anything but a gingerly walk in the park. Nepal trails do not waste any time. Or maybe the guides said it would be easy just to mess with me?
While we were trudging along, Moron said to me, "Nepalese men are just stronger." I do believe he had a point. This was their land. Their terrain. And it was brutal. I even saw school children in uniform maneuvering slopes with ease. The very same slopes that left me winded and cursing the trekking Gods.
At one point during that first day, we had climbed 1,000 meters in a little less than an hour. When we finally arrived at our final resting spot, I just collapsed into the one-inch thick mattress with all my clothes still on. It was only 4:12 pm.
The first trekking lodge we stayed at was in Ulleri and a shit hole it was not. I made myself right at home and the proprietor of the lodge, and his children, could not have been more friendly hosts.
It was the kind of place that fashioned kitchen flooring on the ceiling and had a picture of a cartoon Jesus next to their Wifi advertisement.
Subsequently, their Wifi was on the fritz.
I did ingest some rather questionable chicken curry for dinner, which made for a premature bedtime. That and I was just completely exhausted from getting my ass kicked on the trail. It was only the first day in the mountains. Can I keep this up?
Welp ... I will certainly try.