The weather got warmer as we descended. I enjoyed passing through the villages, where we would stop for tea, lunch, or to stay for the night. It seemed that the villages were quite self-sufficient in many ways.
As I mentioned earlier, they got their water from the mountain rivers and streams, and their power from hydroelectricity. (In fact, while Nepal’s two largest cities, Kathmandu and Pokhara, experienced daily power cuts — called “load shedding”– many of the villages boasted of “24 hour power”).
They grew rice, millet, corn, beans and vegetables like mustard greens and cabbage. They grew some lentils (for the Nepali staple of dal bhat) but Mane said most of the lentils grown in Nepal came from the southern Terai region. They also kept chickens, buffaloes and cows. And of course, these villages on the trekking routes generated a significant amount of revenue from providing food, lodging and other amenities to trekkers.
From the beginning of the trek, I found one of the biggest challenges to be Dodging Donkey Dung. The donkeys on the trails had managed to spread their “fertilizer” left, right and center, so that it was impossible to walk a straight line on certain portions of the trail. Why were there so many donkeys on these trails?!
Only later did I become aware that it was because of the donkeys (and horses and mules too) that I was able to enjoy certain amenities at the restaurants and lodges. Since in the mountainous terrain wheeled vehicles were of no use (and indeed there were none), everything had to be transported by people or beasts. So these animals made their living transporting lentils and potatoes, toilet paper and soda, soap and towels, biscuits and chocolate, batteries and bulbs, and so on. I felt more compassionate towards the donkeys (and their dung too) once I developed this awareness.