I am a dive instructor and had lived on tropical islands in Asia for 2.5 years when I decided that I would like to do my Yoga Teacher Training. I had a month between when my last contract ended and the start of a Yoga Teacher Training programme in India. I decided to spend some quiet time in Nepal for a while, fell in love with the country and ended up doing my training in Kathmandu. But that is a story for another day.
So after many months of sun, sea and sand, socialising like the best butterfly out there, and diving the days away, I found myself in a tiny cottage in the Himalayas, overlooking the lake at the edge of Happy Village.
Pokhara is a quaint little tourist town in the foothills of the Himalayas. That offer some truly magical experiences.
Fireflies in the garden
The cottage that I found to stay in for a while was a short distance from the centre of Pokhara, with amazing views of Phewa Lake and the Himalayas. It was the perfect place to catch up with myself and do some reading and writing. I would get out of hibernation and go into town every now and then for some amazing Nepali food and cocktails – because like Hemingway said ‘Write drunk and edit sober’.
Most nights, though I would have dinner at a small restaurant across the road from where I was staying. My favourite part was the short walk home, through the little garden gate and up the pathway to my room. There was absolutely no light pollution. The stars were shining brightly each night, sparkling in a clear, midnight blue sky.
Walking through the garden I spotted a little light floating amongst the leaves of one of the bushes…For someone who has always been enchanted with anything that might remotely resemble magic on earth this made me stop in my tracks. As I stood transfixed in this tiny garden in the Himalayas I saw another tiny light floating between the branches… and another one… and another one. After a few minutes of soaking this all in I slowly made my way upstairs and looked out over the garden and neighbouring cornfields, all alight with tiny specks of magic floating in and out of view.
Snow on the mountains
I met a fellow traveller in Pokhara and he convinced me to drive with him up Pokhara hill. We rented a motorbike and we snaked our way up the twisty road towards the lookout point on Pokhara hill. Along the way we were blessed with spectacular views of the mountains and rice paddies. We had a glimpse of life on the hill as we made our way into the clouds.
We were hoping to see the snow-capped mountains once we got to the lookout point but it was a cloudy day and, although the view was impressive we had no luck in seeing snow. A little deflated we made our way back down to the town, stopping along the way to take in the beautiful rice paddies and visiting a weaver who made beautiful shawls.
We were nearly at the end of our trip when we rounded a corner. I looked over my left shoulder and saw the magic I was hoping for! In the distance, perfectly framed by the vegetation and clouds rose a perfect, snow-capped peak of the Himalayas, quietly sitting in majestic glory. A mermaid by heart and a South African by birth, seeing snow-capped mountains reminded me how much of life I had not experienced yet, that the world is a huge and wondrous place and that taking a moment to say ‘Yes’ always leads you to the most magical moments.
The hospitality of Nepali people
After a period of hibernating in the little cottage in Happy village I moved to Pokhara town. I found a room in a homestay with a beautiful garden, close to the lake. I became friends with the owner’s sister. Although I could speak no Nepali and she had limited English, we instantly formed a bond. I admired her nail-art one day and she promptly fetched her nail kit and proceeded to add butterflies and flowers to my finger nails, laughing at me as I tried to photograph the whole thing.
A few days later there was a woman’s festival at a nearby temple. I expressed excitement and she told me how the ladies would dress up and put henna on their hands. That afternoon she knocked on my door and invited me into the room next door where she painted my hands with elaborate henna art.
On the day of the festival she presented me with a little package- a set of green and yellow glass bangles. I was enchanted with the comforting weight of the bangles on my arm and the gentle tingling they made whenever I moved. I was touched by the hospitality she showed me and how an instant friendship could for between two women from such extremely different backgrounds.
My short stay in Pokhara showed me that a bit of magic can be found in the most unlikely of places like your garden, a spur of the moment drive or even, and most often, in the souls of strangers who welcome you with a smile on their face and open arms.