Commuting to Panauti on Cannabis Highway

by Will

During our flight from Pokhara back to Kathmandu, the haze was too thick to see the Annapurna range that had so loomed over us in Kaskikot. Bye Pokhara, bye Kaskikot, bye Aamaa.

Our flight was testy. It reminded me of some of my past flights into Albuquerque over the Sandia mountain range. The plane went up and down like a rollercoaster, accompanied by metallic shaking. Bump, bump, bump! Enough to make my stomach churn.

Himal’s friend picked us up at the airport and we drove to Panauti. Along the route was a huge statue of Shiva. A big golden figure, she held her 3 pronged fork with pride as she looked over the Kathmandu valley and it’s brick factory smoke stacks.

Here is a picture of Shiva statue. We saw it from the highway to it’s left.

Lissa and I had a peeing adventure. He pulled over on a curve, and we expected some building, some designated toilet house, but there was nothing. He told us just go into the growth and pee there, but even that was pretty minimal. I knew my wife’s buttons would be pushed with this one, and my eyes combed up the road where there was at least some thicker brush. I waved at her and pointed at the brush. As we walked, I realized even the brush was perched dangerously on the crest of a cliff. “This will have to do,” I said to myself. I had to negotiate stepping down the cliff hanging on to a few weeds. At least I had a little privacy as the trucks roared nearby. Lissa managed just fine. When I was done, I stepped back up, and realized my legs were surrounded by marijuana plants. I was surprised to see that the Nepalese regarded it as a roadside weed. No war on drugs here. I pulled a leaf as a memento, and returned to the car.

We drove through the city of Banepa which was similar to Pokhara with it’s main street frantic with the motorcycles. Their beeping was persistent, and the dust was ever present. This city had made a wide main street, so there wasn’t that feeling of being closed in by huge numbers of people. Our time was short here, and we took a right hand turn towards Panauti.

Next our driver tried to muscle our way over a bridge that was only one and a half lanes wide. The trucks bore down on us, it’s tires were centimeters from us. I gripped my knee. We were stuck. Finally he backed the car to the mouth of the bridge where we parked. As we sat waiting for the trucks to pass, I noticed there were plenty of Cannabis plants on the roadside and the below river’s banks.

We entered Panauti through the main square. There was all sorts of social life here. The fruit carts lined the east part of the square, I could hear their yelling for business. Their eyes seemed to follow our car with a little foreigner caution. The buses waited for customers in the square’s middle.  Dressed with Shiva colors, many of the buses have Buddha eyes. These eyes of wisdom watch over and protect the buses journey.  We turned back north bouncing slowly over a dirt road. The ducks along its side seemed oblivious to us just barely moving out of our way.

Here is the common Buddha Eyes motif. You see it every where here in Nepal.

We arrived at Himal’s place, Joining Hands Nepal. I am excited to meet the kids of his orphanage, and to have more time getting to know Himal. We took a nap despite the humming of the lumber yard saws across the street.

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