Nepal happened. It came and went. And it was everything I hoped it would be and more. (To read my story of why I went to Nepal, go here.) It’s hard for me to sum up my experience in a single blog post. And so I’ve concluded to tell the whole of it. Beginning to end. Starting with part 1.
In the weeks preceding my 36 hour ‘trek’ to Kathmandu, I had built up a significant amount of fear. I’d become consumed with all the what ifs that come with traveling halfway across the world by yourself. What if I miss my flight to Istanbul? What if my luggage gets lost? But the most pressing question: what if I can’t do three weeks of life, alone? It was a valid fear. I mean, I was about to step into one month of constant unknowns and discomforts. But as I walked through the airport doors on March 7, 2016 that question instantly vaporized. Because suddenly I was alone. En route to some foreign land with an empty passport and the promise of a new beginning.
My route from Minneapolis to Dallas to Istanbul to Kathmandu was rather smooth, aside from my sleep-deprived delirium in Istanbul. Turns out I don’t sleep well on airplanes. And so by the time we touched down in Istanbul, I’d been awake for close to 24 hours, with a total of 5-ish hours of on and off shut-eye in between. According to science, sleep deprivation has close to the same effects as drunkenness on the human body, which explains why, upon arriving to the gates, I assumed this was the extent of the airport. The space resembled something of a crowded supermarket spanning the size of a football field. (The Istanbul airport is in fact the 3rd busiest airport in Europe. And is much larger than a crowded football field. But what did I know? I was drunk on my lack of sleep.) And so, I found a seat in the corner and took to defending my two carry-ons while actively fighting the urge to “just close my eyes for a few seconds.” I had a 8 hour layover to tackle, after all.
The thing that kept me going was the expectation of meeting Renata, another workshop attendee, in Istanbul. Her flight landed an hour or two after mine and we were planning to connect before our flight to Kathmandu. But that never really happened, because, you see, she was aware of the extent of the airport. And after her 15 hour flight from LAX, she found a lounge, and got to resting. We exchanged several messages trying to locate each other, but neither of us tried exceptionally hard considering we were both overly tired. And so we braved the long, overnight layover separately. (At one point—and friends, this was a low point—I was convinced I was being catfished. I mean, why else would someone wait to show their face until the final 30 minutes of our 8 hour layover?) We finally met moments before boarding the plane to Kathmandu. And it was an instant friendship. We coincidentally had seats right next to each other, which meant we spent almost the entirety of the flight talking and laughing and not sleeping. Good times indeed.
Landing in Kathmandu, we worked our way through customs and luggage and pick-up together. (Thank God for travel buddies amiright.) If I hadn't experienced culture-shock by then, it hit me hard with the organized chaos of traffic. It was inexplicable. And I was sure I was going to die. Like, 100% positive.
And we made it to our hotel. Our beautiful hotel. (Visiting Nepal? Stay here.) We unloaded our bags and walked down the dirt road to a small cafe. (Take note: still deliriously sleep-deprived.) We ate and drank (I sipped on a mojito because #legalinnepal) and laughed and day 1 was good.
The next day, after 12 straight hours of sleep, Renata and I met with other attendees and ventured into the streets to do what photographers do best: photograph. It was wildly different from anything I'd ever experienced before. Bustling and full of life and bursting with pattern and color.
And that concludes part 1. Stay tuned for more stories about the actual workshop!