By: Seraphina Mallon-Breiman
We proceeded down the mountain the next day. Still moving slowly, I had the opportunity to get to experience the villages we passed feeling less like a tourist traveling with such a large group, as well as getting to further know Akal. He told me his story.
Forty-four years old, he lives a four-hour bus ride outside of Kathmandu. He and his wife grew up in the same village and when they were fifteen years old they ran away for two months so that they could be together and declare their love. When they came back, their families figured there was nothing they could do about it, so they were married on the spot. Now, he lives happily with this woman and has three sons.
We began humming together as we walked and he even taught me some Nepali words. ‘Tato’ meaning hot, ‘tiso’ meaning cold, ‘pani’ meaning water, etc. Every time he saw me faltering a bit, his words of encouragement came so respectfully after seeing my struggle. “Walking with Akal and Padam is almost a more interesting way to trek here. The difference between trekking with two people in comparison to twenty is extreme. I’ve been noticing so many more details, taking advantageof having the time to look around for longer. And all this due to the fact that I was literally forced to slow down. Passerbys treated me a bit differently walking with two Nepali men as opposed to twenty young Americans.”