We woke up the last morning in Kopan with heavy hearts. Our first home stay posted plenty of daily challenges, but we had all grown so close to our families and were just getting comfortable in the little town. Annie and I had to wake up extra early in order to meet the group at 6:15, but our incredible host mom, Binita, still had a delicious breakfast waiting for us, as usual. She didn’t speak much English, but her kindness was felt through the food she prepared for us and her beautiful smiles. On our way out of the house, our family draped gorgeous, traditional red khatas over our necks and snapped a few pictures before saying goodbye.
As we walked to our meeting place, one of the girls we met at the school, Arlin, adorned us with even more farewell scarves. It was interesting to see all the ways that our different host families said goodbye. Some members of our group were given red tikas between their eyebrows, and others were given traditional hats and Nepali snacks that we would all enjoy on the bus. A two hour bus ride became five due to the heavy traffic that kept us at a standstill, but our group found ways to make the time go by. We talked, played games, napped, and sang an ungodly amount of Mamma Mia songs before finally arriving at the rafting place around noon.
After our guides prepared an on-the-spot lunch for us, we strapped on our life jackets, secured our helmets, grabbed our paddles, and headed down to the water. After five hours on a hot, cramped bus, we were more than eager to dive into the chilly Trisuli River and cool off. We must’ve looked silly bobbing around in our bright blue helmets, but it was so much fun.
Our rafting guides gave us a quick talk on safety before we split up into two rafts and began our adventure. The first huge rapid caught us off-guard and almost knocked Hayden into the water, but after that, we knew what to expect and were ready to face the waves. Our rafting journey alternated between more peaceful times when we were able to relax and enjoy the breathtaking scenery, and times when we had to secure our feet under the seats and pray that we wouldn’t be flung off. Sometimes our guide let us leave the raft and swim in the river, and it was always hilarious watching each other struggle to climb back into the raft.
After two hours, we made it to the end, and we thanked our guides and changed out of our wet clothes before returning to the bus. The remaining three hours on the bus were a lot quieter and calmer because we were all so exhausted from rafting, but we perked up a little when we reached the exciting city of Pokhara. It was a lot different and more catered to tourists than Kathmandu, with brighter streets and buildings that were more spread out. Cows strolled the bustling streets like pedestrians. We went out for dinner as a group and stuffed ourselves with food before returning to the hostel.
We had the entire next day to explore and get some much needed rest for our upcoming trek in the Himalayas. Some people went kayaking on the lake or checked out the trekking museum, while others decided to take it easy and stroll around the shops. I decided to go on a little walk by myself to take some pictures for the blog, which I quickly realized was a bad idea when I looked around and had no idea where I was. But I made the best of it and ended up finding a cool mini market and meeting some new people. It didn’t take long for me to find my way back to the hotel, but I couldn’t help but feel relieved when I heard the familiar voices of my friends in the courtyard. We only had one day in Pokhara before leaving for our nine day hike to Annapurna Base Camp, but the down time was greatly appreciated. -Mia