An old motorcycle, a good traveling companion, and an open road... freedom.
The excuse for the road trip was to experience a traditional Hindu festival in a village, with a Jesuit friend and long time Nepali resident Greg Sharkey. But the old bike I borrowed had some issues about going as far as we wanted to go, and I had a little motorcycle accident as well, so was a little sore. But the Maoists have declared a cease-fire, the rain has stopped, Nepal is on vacation during the Dashain holiday season, and my other research could wait. It was time to head out somewhere.
We decided to try for Pokhara, a popular tourist destination here in Nepal, at the foot of the Anapurna mountain range. Greg knows some very good families there that we could visit for the festival, and we would be free to do whatever we wished in the meantime. It was a good call.
As with any good road trip, we had our share of problems. Because of heavy traffic, an old bike, getting separated and traveling into the night, what could have been a five hour trip took nine hours. Let's just say that we were both a bit sore, tired and cold by the end. But the bike's problems gave a good opportunity to meet people along the way as well. Whenever you stop in Nepal, a crowd gathers, and people are always willing to give advice. They also gave me the opportunity to ask again and again, "Forward or back or stop?" "Forward!" was always the response. The future was ahead, new things to explore, new problems to face. That was the freedom, to jump into a future that was quite intimidating (pot-hole filled mountain roads with trucks going too fast passing you on corners) but appealing nonetheless. To move forward trusting fate and God, and myself and Greg and our ability to improvise.
In this picture, we stopped at a bike repair shop to check the oil and the choke. There was a woman there who appeared to me to be barking out orders to everyone, so I asked if she was the owner. I was told that she was just the local crazy woman who was simply yelling (something about the evils of America), and that is what she liked to do. Everyone simply let her yell and went about their work. There is freedom here as well, in her ranting and their letting her.