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Change Is The New Constant (August 30, 2010)

Current Position
Position Date: 2010-08-31 00:29:25
Position Latitude: 27.75
Position Longitude: 85.3333
Position Distance from Pole: 3738
Nautical miles, 4306 mi, 6922 km

The view from my window flying into KathmanduI realized boarding the plane the yesterday that my normal routine was about to be turned upside down. I say yesterday day because my flight was about 31 hours from Denver to Kathmandu. Actually, it was two days ago.

From today onward, every day will bring some new change and adventure. If there's one thing I've learned from travel (I guess two things: I always carry a pen.) it is to always be observant. Watch first, evaluate and then act I remind myself. Just like on expedition, things can go from a good situation to bad in a matter of minutes if you are not constantly assessing and reassessing. Ultimately when traveling, it's not so much life and death stuff, but being aware definitely makes things easier.

I witnessed an interesting exchange transferring myself to international departures in the Delhi airport. A 20-something German tourist was stopped at the scanners. Turns out he had stashed a cigarette lighter in his bag. As security was inspecting his bag, they also saw a small wooden flute. 'Can you play?' one asked. 'I'm just learning,' replied the young man. 'Please,' the guard suggested tonelessly. 'let's us hear you play.'

At first I thought the guard might be trying to exercise some authority over the traveler. Then watching his face, and the others around, I realized they were genuinely curious and simply wanted to hear a nice melody in an otherwise lack luster day.

In Boulder, friends had constantly been asking if I was excited to leave. I wasn't. Leaving Maria, being away from most creature comforts for over two months, the physical hardship of climbing, office work that still need to be completed, I have long since learned to check my enthusiasm and focus on the tasks at hand. That is until the plane broke through the clouds and much of rural Nepal was slowly revealed extending toward the horizon. Flying over a series of parallel rivers formed by glacier melt, reminded me of Alaska. But nowhere had I ever seen so many rivers stretched one after the other. Next another difference, low hills and terraced crop lands. Looking past the peaks, more peaks trying to hide in the low fog.

Tshering picked me up at the airport and brought me to the hotel and a while later I went for a walk in Kathmandu. I'm always surprised and amazed at cultural differences. We are all people, genetically the same of course, but have found different ways to live, communicate and interact. Not complaining here, but I'm not a big fan of the traffic laws here - or better yet - lack of law (or stop lights for that matter). Crossing the street is like some sick and twisted real world version of the old video game Frogger. My technique: follow a local closely - no matter what.

My commuting fears would reach an unfortunate peak when Tshering and some of the other Sherpas who will be helping me stopped by to take me out to dinner. 'We will take bikes,' Tshering said. By bikes, he meant motorcycles and by motorcycles, he meant people crazy enough to ride in crazy 'S' patterns weaving in and out of oncoming traffic, people and whatever other obstacle might present itself. To make a long story short, dinner was was amazing.

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