Apparently nervous about sleeping in, I woke up in the darkness and groped through my mosquito net for my phone. 4:30AM. An hour before my wake-up time. A great many Nepali people actually get up at this hour, in the pitch-black darkness, every day. Why, when their offices don’t even open until 10AM? Some to fetch water or do other chores, many to do their morning worship at temple, and others to go on a “morning walk” – which is what the villagers call any form of overt exercise. To them the morning is the only suitable time for it. I have found that no matter how much I’ve learned to appreciate the freshness brought by morning, the still, coolness that is different than that of the night, and the comforting reliability of sun rise – there remains something about waking up before the sun that feels simply unnatural to me.
I somehow managed to fight my way back into dreamland for another hour before I had to get up, grab my bags and head into town to catch the 6:30AM microbus. At this hour – in the waxing light – I realized I’d never before walked to town. And I have to say there was certainly something fresh about seeing it in a (literally) different light. Everything felt new somehow. New in that exciting way of a traveller discovering a new place. The rhythm was slower than it is during the day. The air was much fresher. I suppose I understand why so many use the time for “morning walk.”
Once on the microbus with a belly full of hot milk tea, we zig-zagged dramatically down the steep slopes of a gorge to meet the highway across the river. The small city where I live sits atop a large plateau; on three sides, the edge drops nearly 300m vertically down to two rivers; on the forth side, the edge hits up against a steep hill that climbs another 1,500 meters in height. It’s a beautifully dramatic setting; I love that in order to get anywhere, one must go either steeply down or steeply up. The view of the canyon as we sped down the road to meet the river was, again, freshly beautiful in this new light. All was washed in golden hues. Layers of bluffs revealed themselves in the mist; a thin ring of clouds floated just beneath the lip of the bluffs – just out of the reach of the sun, which would surly burn it away twenty minutes later.
All along the highway dozens of waterfalls plunge down the slopes to meet the river. It’s truly incredible. But they will be gone soon – I can already see their volume shrinking as the weather here too begins to turn. The intensity of monsoon is slowing; it rains only at night, and not as much. The sun is gradually feeling less harsh, and the himals (mountains) are beginning to show their snowy faces once again. The cold is coming. This is a new experience for me – to have been somewhere outside California long enough for the weather to turn full cycle; to return to a familiar season. I’ve been here two years now, so I’ve been through these motions before. It is my favorite season in Nepal, a suiting parting gift by which to say good bye.