Last year I was lucky enough to travel to the breathtaking home of the tallest mountain on earth. When I left, my parents gave me a quote that I gratefully took on board, thinking I knew exactly what it meant. ‘Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer’. Feeling very clever, I thought to myself, yes, yes, experiences make you hypothetically richer. But sitting on the side of a mountain realising my two week adventure was coming to an end, I realised that travel doesn’t just make you richer in the list of places you have gone and things you have done, it changes you. Between the time you leave and the time you get back, travel has given you lifelong lessons and ways of looking at things that will make you a richer person. Travel isn’t just a memory of a past event, it is something that becomes a part of you, stays with you forever. This is how Nepal changed me.
At the very start of the trip, my friends and I were rushing around the airport trying to find Gate 60. We were very pleased to discover we got there first. On our walks to and from the high school in the Nepalese village, we would have to nearly run unless you wanted to get left behind. We were very proud of ourselves when we made it in 20 minutes rather than our usual 30. During the trek we took part in there was always someone saying we could easily walk faster or not have as many breaks, so we could get to the campsite quicker.
It was our final day in Nepal. I was sitting in the sun, looking out at the scenery, and said to the person next to me, “I expected the trip to be more packed with activities than it was.” She replied “I guess it’s kind of the Nepalese way.” I stopped for a moment and saw how completely right she was, and was embarrassed it had taken me the whole trip to see that.
Coming from the Western World we are used to a culture of rush. One of the Sherpas once said to me – “Wow, you guys walk very fast!” I was sort of surprised, I remember thinking how on on earth could we be fitter than the Sherpas? I look back at myself and laugh, seeing that the Sherpas could have sprinted up that hill, but there was absolutely no need to. After realising that I had rushed through everything here, I have noticed how right my friend was – the Nepalese culture is not at all rushed. The locals all walk slowly around the streets, not because they can’t walk faster but because they have no need to.
I hope that if travel has given me anything to take away from those two weeks, it is the control to slow down, and not need to rush things just to prove that I can.