[Oct. 1, 2005] Ready for Nepal and India…

Photograph: Chalk and blackboard Nepalese calendar.  Photographer: Martin Herrera Soler. 

Dear friends and family, here is a quick update before we depart to Nepal and India. I am forwarding a mail that Clara prepared so you have a sense of where we are headed… at least to the best of our understanding. Only God knows where we will really end-up and what will do. I am open to the ride with the intention to flow and simply take it as it comes… Much love. Martin.

We are leaving for Nepal and India tomorrow. Oh yes, we are VERY happy.

Our journey will last 5 weeks, and we’ll start with a 10 day trek in Nepal. We will trek in the region of Annapurna and then spend a couple days in Kathmandu.

From there we head south to India, stopping first at Varanasi. Varanasi is on the bank of sacred Ganges River and one of the holiest places in India. Pilgrims come to bathe in the river, believing that it washes away all negative karma. I am very tempted to join then, but the western books remind me that it’s heavy polluted and septic (no oxygen exists). Indians don’t seem to get sick from bathing, but I don’t know if this privilege would be extended to me. It’s also an auspicious place to die, and so there are many bodies being burned in the “ghats”. Everyone tells us it’s crazy, chaotic, intense and fantastic, especially after you leave it.

From there we may go to the small city of Khajuraho, whose temples are one of India’s greatest attractions. And from there we may get off the beaten path and visit the small and lost in time Orchha. And then we head north. Passing through Delhi, we stop in Rishikesh, the gateway to the Himalayas (and also “Yogaville”), as well as to the “Char Dham”—the four hillside pilgrimage cities of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri, where four holy rivers begin their journeys south to the plains. And from there we continue going up north, maybe all the Dharamsala (where the Dalai is) and McLeod Ganj. This is like waaay up north in the mountains. Or we may not go so far, and do a little bit of Agra and the Taj Mahal. We will decide it all there.

We “think” we are prepared. We are taking one 10Kg backpack each and even a pin needs to have a strong justification to be included in the packing list. My biggest concern is that I am going to be wearing the same clothes in all photos. It will seem like I’ve done the Taj Mahal, the Himalaya and the Ganges river in the same day! But I think I will survive. We bought a fancy and bizarre lock for backpacks, which is a wire mesh that covers the entire backpack so that no one can access its contents and that can be locked to the seat of the train or something. We have a big and complete “traditional” first aid kit, as well as an alternative one, with rescue, tea tree oil, arnica and plenty of homeopathy medicine for flu, nausea and etc. And we have 3 different types of methods for water treatment. We’ve got our immunization shots (hepatitis, polio booster and typhoid fever, for the unbudgeted bargain of $400).

But even though it’s good to have these practical and objective aspects sorted out, we know that they are just this could not possibly be enough. Everybody tells us to expect the unexpected in India. I personally think this trip is going to kick my butt and I am so looking forward to it.

We honestly don’t know how much mail we will be able (and willing) to do, but let’s see. I think we’ll send at least a couple “hello, we are fine and a) loving it, b) bewildered, c) exhausted, d) all of the above” though, let’s see.

With Love, Clá and Martin


Martin Herrera Soler | Photographer | www.MartinHSPhoto.com