The road less travelled


IMG_2687Hindi music is screeching in my ear, the bus horn has been tested for its requisite five minutes (and every 100 meters of travel or two minutes thereafter, whichever comes first) there are twice as many people as you think could fit in a bus on board so we must be ready to depart for the journey to Kathmandu. Our route through the mountains can be roughly divided into three stages, ridiculously dangerous, very dangerous and just plain dangerous. Some people think that that last one doesn’t exist but they’re obviously not used to very much.

The first stage takes us from Shivalaya to Jiri and while we set out on a nicely cobbled road it takes less than ten minutes before we ford a river and start climbing up a soggy dirt road with hair-raising hairpin bends and drop offs that would make a high wire walker think twice.  At one point the bus stutters to a halt on a particularly boggy uphill section tries to restart and begins to slide backwards. If I was a Catholic I would have probably said a few hail Mary’s

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.

No such comfort for a heathen like me though and just when I consider jumping out of the window the bus starts, the driver regains control, and we head off for the next bog hole. Then suddenly, we’re back on the pavement and drive into Jiri.

Now comes the long stretch uphill and down dale to the Sun Kosi about a hundred kilometres of paved, semi-paved and unpaved mountain roads. With every pothole, I get some more bruises on the side of my body that’s next to the window. Still, from time to time there are great views of the Himalaya.  We also all get enough dust in our lungs to get emphysema as for some reason the powers that be have decided that rather than do anything to help the earthquake victims in this district they would just dig the road up to make it harder to deliver aid. The result, fifty more kilometres of dust and potholes.

Then finally the last stretch to Kathmandu it seemed endless and it basically was, all in all, it took eleven hours for the journey that’s almost but not quite fifteen kilometres an hour.

I’ll have a rest now.

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