High Above the Trishuli River

MAJHIMTAR, Nepal — One of my earliest travel memories was of a bus trip through Cuzco, Peru, with my mom, my aunt Elsa and my paternal grandmother, Mama Rosa, when I was five years old. I remember looking out the side window at the river far below the mountain road, the water glistening in the light of the full moon.

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Carrying a harvest, I think.

The driver was being reckless — either drunk or driving too fast — and several passengers were pleading with him to slow down. A few people were crying.

“We could tumble down the mountain and into the river,” I remember thinking.

We didn’t, and arrived at our destination just fine, to meet up with my dad, who had traveled separately.

Although I was old enough to recognize the danger, at least abstractly, I wasn’t scared, though I can’t say why.

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The southern route to Kathmandu zig-zags through the mountains.

Maybe I knew, somehow, that we would be all right.

After leaving Narayangarh, our bus climbed through the mountains on Privthi Highway. Soon, I looked over to see the fare collector, or bus manager, standing in the bus’s open doorway, from where I could see down the few hundred meters down to the emerald-green waters of the Trushuli River.

Surprising, sure, but somehow I wasn’t frightened this time, either, despite having seen the aftermath of a minor traffic accident on a far less perilous road.

Every now and then, the rough pavement narrowed to a one-lane stone bridge over a crevasse or small waterfall. Whichever vehicle arrived first had the right of way, making for a slow journey, but at least it was safer than trying to squeeze two big Tata trucks or buses over them.

As scenic as this bus trip has been, I’ll breathe a sigh of relief once it’s over.

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The valley seemed to go on forever. (Photos by Bruno J. Navarro)
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