27 January Sunday
Ghasa, Mustang
National Guest House

First course for breakfast was milk tea made with buffalo milk. After Ghasa the Kali Gandaki goes into a narrow gorge. I walked out on a suspension bridge at a place where the steepness of the river upstream probably qualifies it as a cascade. I explained to Lal the difference between “cascade” and “waterfall”. Downstream, the river went under huge boulders.

We got off the road to let a herd of yaks pass. The herdsman told Lal that they were from eastern Nepal, but Lal suspected he was lying, that they might be from Ghorepani, where a yak goes for rs. 40,000-45,000. They were perhaps headed for Muktinath or Manang, where a yak will fetch rs. 90,000.

We took a tea break at a place near a sign that said “Heartily welcome to Open Defecation Free Myagdi District”. Lal was unsure which sense of the word “defecate” was intended: either the sign meant that one could crap in public toilets, or could crap anywhere, or that one was welcome to purify oneself in the hot spring at Tatopani. It was warm, so I unzipped my pant legs and put on sunscreen. Lal bought a bag of oranges.

We passed a small water powered mill used for grinding all kinds of grain. A huge stone disk was rotating, rubbing over a stationary stone disk. A large wicker funnel was full of corn, which fed into a sloped chute, which dropped the kernels 1-4 at a time in the hole in the center of the disk. The kernels get caught between the disks and ground up; centrifugal force carried the meal to the trough surrounding the disk.

From the tea break a man had followed us for about half an hour to the Dana River Side Lodge & Restaurant, Dana, Myagdi, mumbling and jabbering. He sat on the stone wall across the road while we ate lunch. Lal said he was saying something about the Indian army should come; he thinks he is a half-wit.

The proprietress told Lal that yesterday three guys, one from Austria, had stopped here. We never saw Tim, Johanne, and Eduardo again.

Dana is supposed to be the point at which the gorge of the Kali Gandaki, the deepest gorge in the world, is at its deepest. It must be close to the line between Annapurna I and Dhualagiri, but from Dana the view of either peak is blocked by nearby small mountains, by the walls of the inner gorge.

Checked in to the Himalaya Hotel, Tatopani Myagdi elevation 1190. Chose a corner room with attached bathroom for an extra rs. 250 a day. Four stories, taller than the Dhaulagiri across the alley, which from the sign caters to Germans. Nice restaurant seating on top of third floor looking upstream at Nilgiri South, clotheslines on top of fourth floor. An inner courtyard contained orange trees with ripe oranges.

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Went for a walk to the hot spring. A friend of Lal’s was there, a woman N__ who had been soaking because of some cold or illness. She runs a small lodge a few doors down from the Himalaya. We went there and ordered a Tuborg, split it; in Nepal beer only comes in large bottles. Tuborg is Danish manufactured in Nepal. Lal said “Sundar keti (beautiful woman), eh?”, I said yes. Was he trying to set me up?

Took a hot shower, borrowed Lal’s bar of soap, shaved. Then we went back to N’s and had a rakshi before ordering dinner at the Himalaya; they would have been upset if we didn’t buy dinner there. Lal said N is married to a German guy and has some kids.