It’s 4:30 am Kathmandu time – exactly 13 hours and 45 minutes ahead of my family on the West Coast. For some reason Nepal declared its time zone precisely 15 minutes ahead of India.
I can’t sleep, perhaps because I slept practically all day yesterday even though I’d slept many hours the night before. I wouldn’t exactly say that I’m sick, but certainly feeling a little weak and lethargic. My stomach doesn’t hurt, but it hasn’t felt right after any meal so far. I barely have any appetite at all. I’ve started having nightmares – something which rarely happened in the States – and for some reason I think it might be because of the food. It’s so hot here; even if I did have a fever it would be almost impossible to tell because it’s 90-100 degrees F in the day time and 85-90 at night. I insist on sleeping in long sleeves and long pants to avoid mosquito bites. They only come out at night, and if the screen door doesn’t get left open there actually aren’t too many of them, but I don’t really want to risk it. I didn’t bring malaria pills because up at 10,000 feet – where the monastery is located – there’s never been a reported case of malaria or Japanese encephalitis. These are more common in the low lands.
But it wasn’t the heat, or even the nightmares which woke me up tonight. It was the dogs. Though they lounge about, sleeping harmlessly in all corners of the city by day, it’s the dogs who rule the city by night. I’ve determined that our 8:30 pm curfew (basically right when it gets dark) isn’t because we run a necessarily higher risk of getting robbed after dark. The Nepali people are very friendly, and though a few have asked for tips after helping us, unlike southern and eastern Europe they never come too close or appear to have any intention of pickpocketing. I believe the reason for our sundown curfew is twofold: 1) You risk being mauled to death by a hungry wild dog and 2) You risk never finding your way home because there are no such thing as street lights. As we picked our way through the alleyways leading from the main road to our hostel on Sunday night at 8:20 pm, it was pitch black. The adjacent houses provided no light at all. I thought the flash light was on our packing list to be used up in the mountains, but it will be a permanent fixture in my day bag.