Email from Josh

to all my loved ones,

it is the evening of my third day and already i have experienced great joy in taking in all the beauty that is this land and its people and customs. and i had a great low yesterday being completely overwhelmed with everything that is this place. on top of that i lost my brand new i pod touch which brought my low even lower. there was however a valuable lesson learned, don’t loose you {stuff}! (my edit) i am sure i made some cab drivers week, maybe even month or year seeing as how that i pod cost me four hundred dollars and what they make is a very very small fraction of that. i believe it will be a blessing in disguise, i will be forced to spend more time reading and reflecting on everything that is happening to me and will end up getting a lot more out of this experience.

when i arrived i had not slept in over two days and getting to bed that night was possibly the best sleep i have ever had. the next morning Marty, Bridged and I went to Thamel, a shopping district in Kathmandu. there is anything and everything one could ever want to buy. it was a good intro to the city. that night i joined Marty and bridged at a party thrown by the director of their school. it was in a palace of a house in the hills outside of town. a beautiful home built of mostly white marble. i met and talked to lots of Marty’s cohorts (thank you Abigail) who have come from all over the world to teach here. they all drank to excess and danced the night away. it was funny to see a new side of my aunt and uncle that i never new. and to see all these teachers behaving, well not like the role models one would assume teachers to be.

the next day we went to Swayambhu, to the monkey temple. the monkeys ran ramped through the grounds of the temple steeling offerings, left by faithful Buddhists, and snacks from the hands of hungry tourists. as we climbed our way up the steps towards to the stumpa we passed through three large Buddha statues and beyond that i could see the glimmering golden dome of the main stumpa. at the top we walked clockwise around the temple, as is the custom. i spun the prayer wheels and a hundred om mani padme hum’s, were sent into the air. “om mani padme hum” is a Buddhist prayer that translates to “oh you jewel in the lotus flower”, to them it symbolizes all embracing love. we walked around the temple area looking at all the smaller temples erected somewhere from five hundred to a thousand years ago. as we made our way around and back down the other side Buddhist monks were praying and the elderly who are too old and weak to work were getting fed. it was after we left here and were having dinner at a Mexican restaurant (i know, who would have thought) that i discovered i had lost my i pod. from here on out my day went down hill. by the time we got home i was so overwhelmed i just wanted to scream and throw things and cry. which i only did one of these things, though i will not say which. that night i calmed down and went to bed counting on a new day.

this morning was just that a new day. i woke up early and greeted the day with a new attitude. after Marty and bridged left for school i sat on the roof of the house and read for an hour. then i walked to Kathmandu durbar square. an old part of the city where there are several temples for a number of Hindu gods and the kumari ghar, a palace that houses the living goddess, a five year old girl that houses the sacred feminine energy. they worship her until she menstruates for the first time and is “unclean” then it is time to find a new one. i found a guide to show me around the square and he told me all about the history of every temple and the palace. i was lucky enough to be in the palace quart yard when the living goddess decided to show herself through a window. though i was forced to put thirty rupees in a donation box, i guess you have to pay for the honor. later in the oldest temple i was blessed by a holy man who rubbed ashes on my forehead and blew the smoke from incense all around my head, covered my in a flowery necklace, i had to pay for that honor as well. soon my tour of the square was done and my guide invited me over for dinner at his house tomorrow night and offered to take me to the other holy places in the city. i just may take him up on his offer for dinner but don’t feel like paying any more money to look at young girls and have ashes smeared a crossed my face. the rest of today was mellow i went home and read and sun bathed on the roof then had dinner and a great discussion about god and religion and the cultural differences (or similarities) of the Hindu and Buddhist faiths and my own.

also i have an outline for the rest of my time here. this weekend i will be heading into the Khumbu region to hike up to the base camp of Sagarmatha (mt. Everest). it should be about two weeks then i will be back here for a few rest days before heading to Annapurna for another two week trek. after that i will head north up toward the Tibetan border and spend about a week and a half hiking and rafting, which should bring me back here for maybe one more week before i fly back home. so far i have enjoyed just about every minute over here and look forward to the rest of my trip.

i love and miss you all, though there is one i miss and love more then the rest.

Josh

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