The Cock, the Ball & the Lizard, Not Necessarily in That Order (Bhandar to Sethe)

After thanking the proprietor of guesthouse and tipping him generously for arranging to get my backpack to us we headed downhill out of Bhandar through mossy forest and terraced farmland towards the town of Kinja at the bottom of the valley. Along the way a grinning local man asked if we would like to buy some oranges from the tree in his garden. When we agreed he delightedly picked a couple of the fruits for us and we paid him about 20 cents each for them. Emily’s favorite moment of the day occurred a few minutes later, after another little jaunt down the trail when a small child presented her with one of the many marigolds that seem to be native to the area. She reciprocated with a coconut cracker. Upon reaching the valley bottom and the outskirts of Kinja a couple of lizards scampered across the trail ahead of us, one of them taking shelter under a little overhang beside the trail. We managed to get a good picture of one of them.

In Kinja we showed our trekking permits at the police checkpoint and walked through town with a few local kids on their way to school who seemed to want to practice their English. From here we started the long, draining climb 1080 meters up to Sethe. Along the way we caught up to the fellow that we had met the day before in Bhandar and dubbed the “happiest man alive.” He always seemed to have the biggest grin one could imagine and laughed uproariously at whatever we said to him, even while carrying what must have been over 100 pounds up the steep trail in a basket on his back. This traditional method of carrying goods from village to village is conducted with a large woven basket supported by a strap over the head so the entire weight of the load is supported by the neck.

A little ways on in a village called Chimbu we came across a school with a relatively large, flat, fenced in playing area for the kids so we decided to give them the “indestructible” soccer ball donated by a friend of Emily’s grandfather. The teacher seemed so delighted she couldn’t even open her eyes and she figured it was more of a volleyball. The kids’ reactions were a little harder to read, perhaps confusion or thickly veiled excitement? Anyways, you can make your own decision from the attached picture. After several more hours we finally reached Sethe and got an awesome lunch of fried macaroni at a restaurant with a rambunctious resident rooster that had a fondness for standing on cows. We then got a room in an enormous tinderbox of a guesthouse with a lack of electricity and an abundance of candles, but thankfully survived the night without needing to make a hasty escape out the window.

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