“Travel is rebellion in its purest form… We follow our hearts. We free ourselves of labels. We lose control willingly. We trade a role for reality. We love the unfamiliar. We trust strangers. We only own what we can carry. We search for better questions, not answers. We truly graduate. We sometimes choose to never come back.”
I’m running down a narrow path through the trees, leaping from rock to rock in an attempt to follow a young girl with pigtails who is leading the way.
Giggling as she runs, she is agile and confident on the small rocky path, scampering down the hillside like a goat.
She takes a sharp left turn up what looks like a wall of steep rock and within seconds is perched on the top, waiting for me with a grin. Her cheap plastic sandals don’t stop her. In fact, I don’t think anything could.
I turn around to look where she has led me and find a two story mud hut, a typical house in this region of Far Western Nepal, where the cows live in the bottom of the home and the family lives up top.
There is a small boy with torn shorts and a dirty shirt, and a girl wrapped in a small shawl waiting to join our fun.
It’s 7am and the sun is beginning to light up the valley 2,000m below, announcing another beautiful day in the foothills of the Himalayas.
There are birds chirping and I hear the distant sound of a crying goat, but besides that, the hilly mountainside is peaceful and quiet as it always is.
We take off again, running through a field of yellow flowers on a muddy path towards the next house. There is a beautifully wrinkled elderly Nepali women adorned with a large bull nose ring and a colorful headscarf sitting on the ground amongst five or six goats.
She looks up, her toothless grin turning to surprise when she sees me. She hardly has time to ask who I am before one of the children is tugging me along again.
They lead me up and down the small paths on a tour of the dozen or so mud huts scattered up and down this section of the hillside.
We come to the road, an unpaved rocky mess, and the race begins. “Ek, duo, teen,” (one, two, three) they yell, before taking off, sandals flying as they run as fast as they can up to the next house.
A small girl, her bare, stick-thin legs poking out awkwardly from her too-small shorts, is waiting for us and waving, eager to join in the fun as well. Her mother, feet and hands died orange with cow dung, comes out from behind the animals and gives her approval.
We fly down the road, all of us running with our arms out like airplanes yelling, “chitoooo, chito, chito, chitooooo” (quickly, quickly) until a beautiful woman with greenish light brown eyes flags us into her field.
She is holding her eighteen month-old daughter, an adorable girl covered in dirt like the rest of these nature-raised children. She invites me into her home, and I step inside to squat beside the small child’s laughing grandma.
The baby eyes me warily before breaking out into a grin, extending her tiny fingers to grab onto my outstretched hand. The room is filled with smoke as are all of the houses in the area, and the sunlight pouring in from the doorway creates a cozy campfire feel.
There are a few pots and pans to one side, and to the other, a few blankets on the ground. It isn’t much, but it is home.
A small white kitten walks by and I quickly scoop him up and into my lap. He falls asleep instantly, purring contentedly while I wrap him inside my warm shawl.
The young girl grabs for her grandma, and they sit together laughing and cuddling. Their laughter is contagious, and soon all of the children in our gang are playing games, dancing, and giggling around the fire inside the small mud hut.
It is an amazing feeling, running through the village with the children, visiting the different houses and cows, before sitting together around a warm fire.
I am an outsider, born into a world so different from their own, but they have accepted me with open arms and enabled me to immerse myself in their world completely, if only for a few days.
This is part 4 of a 4-part series on Far Western Nepal written by contributing blogger Shirine Taylor.
For Part 1, click here.
For Part 2, click here.
For Part 3, click here.
Shirine is a 20-year old solo female traveler cycling around the world, and a regular contributor to The Happy Passport. Follow her journey at awanderingphoto.wordpress.com.
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