What an astonishing country this is. I've made it from Kathmandu to Pokhara, and from there up into the mountains. (Those of us from the UK or flatlands of Europe and America know that I went up a mountain. Tika insists that mountains must have snow on the top. We agreed to differ.)
Anyway, after a couple of days pottering about the nooks and crannies of Pokhara, seduced by whiffs of incense in odd corners and the rhythms of 'om mani padme hum' drifting from every music shop, we took ourselves off to high places. To a little eco-village, sustained by solar power, with safe, sand-filtered water and all vegetables home-grown. And at six in the morning (one of the very few times I acknowledge such an hour exists) I woke to watch the sunrise over Annapurna. With the valley still shrouded in night the mountain top appears, stark against the lightening sky, and the snow crisp and clear and sparkling. There can be few better ways to start the day. (I shall blog about this place another time - it deserves a post all to itself.)
Could I have stayed there forever? Possibly. But I am here with a job to do, to remind you all how wonderful this place is. So down we can - on the day that Nepal herself was celebrating her wonderfulness.
For this was Constitution Day! After five years of wrangling, of infighting and outfighting and sometimes sheer unpleasantness, the country has agreed a new, federal constitution. And we returned to Pokhara on the day the President added his signature.
At last. Although there is bound to be a little residual unhappiness, it looks as if Nepal can now put years of unrest behind her.
What better way to celebrate than to ride motorbikes up and down the street waving flags and cheering. Or filling the pavement outside your shop with candles? Or marching down the street with flags and music?
This was a day of uncomplicated joy! As a tourist, it was a privilege to be here. And, for those wondering whether to come here or not, I can promise you that the Nepali know how to celebrate!