The general strike in Nepal was brought on because the government couldn’t agree on a Constitution and had missed several deadlines over a seven year period. A new deadline was fast approaching and the people were angry and on strike, warning the politicians of trouble to come if they didn’t get their job done this time. It began while we were leaving Kathmandu. The roads free of traffic except taxis and vans serving the tourists. All businesses were closed except, again, those related to the tourism industry. We caught our (late) flight to Pokhara and found the city totally shut down. The strike meant there were absolutely no motor vehicles in use, and all businesses were closed except hotels and restaurants.
There was no choice but to walk to the hotel. We each had about 80 lbs of camping gear, food, and clothing, so the hike to town in 95 degree heat was daunting. We tried to borrow a luggage cart at the airport to push to our hotel but were denied. Hem just said, “It’s not far.” I pictured “not far” as a five minute walk. Without traffic, the city was quiet and charming and assumed an almost festive atmosphere. Pokhara is not only the second largest city in Nepal, but is also the main jumping off place for treks to the Annapurna circuit and a host of other Himalayan treks. That means that this town is home to a legion of porters. Fortunately, a couple enterprising porters were waiting at the airport, knowing everyone who flew in would be walking to town. Hem made the arrangement with the porters to carry our stuff and we followed them for the one and a half hour hike to town. Not far! Compared to what, Brother Hem?
I was excited to be in Pokhara, so none of the logistics really mattered. We would get to the hotel eventually. I was like a kid, taking photos of guitarists, kids on bikes, and brightly painted trees along the road. I chatted with the locals, then had to run to catch up with John, Hem and the porters. We were hot, sweaty, and hungry by the time we reached the hotel. It was 2:00 and finding water and food topped the priority list, followed by a shower, nap and then a massage.