A night in Hockville – accommodation in Nepal

20 12 2010

Not getting the runs or the voms is a major daily target for us. We are running quite a tight and physically demanding schedule that wouldn’t take kindly to internal battering. Thus far the bodily hatches have breached only once each; once in Turkey for Catherine and once in Azerbaijan for Liz. Since then we have introduced a new little friend to our travelling family – hand sanitizer. This pocket sized GI (guttural integritizor), along with the usual checks re restaurant/stall busyness, food freshness etc has provided us with a robust front colonic line. So, hesitantly and amidst a flurry of wood knocking and toe crossing, we are glad to report that Iran, India, and Nepal have passed through us with gut-ular security.

Long distance touring will always impact on internal tick-tockary; some report loss of appetite – which is a problem when calorie intake is critical; some report constipation – though we suspect this is partly due to a reluctance to relax in crude and often repellent lavatory provision. Though we have found one of the great blessings of this particular region it be its culinary monochrome-ary – Iran with its clean and simple bread, meat, and salad dishes; India with its curry (a wide variety but mostly curry nevertheless) and breads, and Nepal with its staples of dhal, noodles, momos and fried ‘stuff’. Our guttural lives in the UK would regularly spin between dishes from all over the world through a perversion of them all: for the past 4 months variety has been a rare visitor.

It is against this backdrop that Liz woke one night in state of mild panic. We were staying (yet again) in a small Nepalese guest house; a basic spare room running off the back of a little food joint on the highway. These simple rooms offer a thin mat on top of a wooden base with a light blanket covering. The dirt tinged sheets are rarely washed between visitors and more often than not the room is already occupied by a scratch of baby (and not so baby) cockroaches or mice. Maybe the floor is swept clean, maybe the ash tray is emptied, or maybe not. But this was a good one; this one was small, simple, and quite clean. The windows shut and the door locked. There was a little family balcony that looked out over a beautiful mountain vista. There was a little family.

The roost was well and truly run by Rita. Cocooned in multiple layers of shawls and blankets this tough little skittle bustled about us, and bustled us about for the duration; she cooked for us and watched us eat, she swept us into our little room and watched us settle, she sat with us as we relaxed on the balcony. We slipped each other congratulatory looks at our good fortune in finding this place. Until about 2am.

With no electricity or heating and exhaustion weighing heavily we usually go to bed by 8pm. And so we did. Until 2am when Liz woke in a panic to the violent sound of screeching and retching apparently emanating from within her bed; is Catherine sick? She panicked, Oh my god what did we eat? … no it’s not Catherine… it’s coming from outside… Rita! What is wrong with her??!!! It took Liz some minuets to realise that it wasn’t Rita being sick it was Rita hocking. Spitting and hocking are a national institution here (and in India). The art of the great retch that pulls all manner of detritus from the core of the earth up into the hockers mouth to be launched at high velocity and in unimaginable volumes outwards. And Rita was the hock champion and tonight was a prime training session. It was the good 25 minutes of constant unfettered retching followed by the final chunky eruption that made this a truly nauseating, yet potentially award winning ritual. And it went on… for most of the rest of the night. Don’t get me wrong, we are quite immune to a general and constant level of flobbery that serves as a soundtrack to our travels but this was something else – this was in a first class, top notch, hock-tastic, queasy class of its own.

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