Strong Will, Cat Porridge, and Ridiculous Loads on Foreheads

Annapurna Circuit – Part IV: Chamche – Darapani (1385m-1900m)

One of the big river confluence in Marsyandi valley

One of the big river confluence in Marsyandi valley.

We’ve been following Marsyandi River for the last two days, and will continue to follow it upstream for another 4 days, to an altitude of ~3600m at Manang. From Chamche, we continued to climb steadily up the deep valley carved out by the mighty white water of Marsyandi river. On our way, numerous waterfalls adorn the cliff faces rising either side of the valley. We and the guides took the walking track, while our porters followed the very primitive rocky ways the Nepalis call roads. Looking at the “road”, we all felt a huge sense of admiration for Nepali’s determination. Many sections were tediously carved out by sheer man power.

The "great Nepali road" build from sweat, blood and sheer determination between Chamche and Tal. The vague red dots are our porters.

The “great Nepali road” build from sweat, blood and sheer determination between Chamche and Tal. The vague red dots are our porters.

Shortly before noon, the valley opened up near the settlement of Tal (1700m), where we enjoyed our lunch under the shade at a little lodge. Most of us were all carry our jandals in our day pack to relieve our feet from the boots during our hour-long lunch break. Our meals, again, were selected from the standardised “tourism board approved” menu. Spelling mistakes were common, and finding the most amusing ones had become a bit of an exercise for our group.

Annapurna tourism board approved menu. Not sure many tourist would like to be offered "cat porridge". (Meant to read "oat" porridge.)

Annapurna tourism board approved menu. Not sure many tourists would like to be offered “cat porridge”. (Meant to read “oat” porridge.)

Just out of Tal, we passed one of the largest fields of marijuana we came across. They are completely wild, and not many locals care to ingest them. Our guides told us sometimes the farmers give them to their animals if the animals lack appetite. Seeing the way they grow and spread, no wonder they are called weeds.

Walking through a very large field of marijuana.

Walking through a very large field of marijuana.

Walking towards the land of the fairies.

Walking towards the land of the fairies.

From the field of marijuana, we felt like we were walking towards the land of the fairies (not because of the weed). The waterfalls, and the sun shining through the clouds at the other side of the valley – it was really magical. Our photographs really do not do any justice to how it was at the time.

We continued to make our way up the valley, and signs of Nepalis’ strong-willed nature were everywhere. Tracks carved out of rock faces, houses built on cliffs, crops growing on steep hillsides, and people carrying ridiculous loads on their foreheads! The environment definitely isn’t making it easy for people to live off the land, somehow they managed generations after generations. The “roads” the government are building are however drawing people from the remote villages to the cities, rather than promoting the growth and development of the remote area – a problem Nepal is facing now.

Crossing the Marsyandi. Note the track carved out of the rock face.

Crossing the Marsyandi. Note the track carved out of the rock face.

Growing corn on very steep hillside.

A path of corn on very steep hillside on the left.

Nepali man carrying a water tank on his forehead.

Nepali man carrying a water tank on his forehead.

Our destination for the day was Dharapani. We arrived early in the afternoon and settled into “Three Sister Guest House” (no “s” after “sister” on the sign). Nepalis seem to like purple, because this lodge is again painted purple top to bottom, like many other we’ve seen so far. Later in the afternoon, two of the porter boys took a few of us for a wee walk around town, crossing a long swing bridge to the local school and a little stupa, which is a small structure that signifies Buddhism.

View from the swing bridge at Dharapani.

View from the swing bridge at Dharapani.

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