We finally got out of the city this weekend. Latham and I managed a short hike in the Shivapuri hills, just North of Kathmandu city. I am frequently told the area is covered with a labyrinth of footpaths and trails, but getting out to explore has been frustrating. And now it is the rainy season, the weather can turn bad unexpectedly, so to be on the safe side, we committed to a short walk in the forest to a small waterfall.
It was so wonderful to be able to just walk unhindered along a trail. No noise, no traffic, no horns. And the first outdoor exercise I’ve had in a long, long time. Here are a few photos from the trail – full of greenery, lushly blanketed forest floors, flowers and not too many bugs:
Before we set out, we were warned about avoiding leeches in the rainy season. I remember the same warning in the Philippines but we never did make it into the jungle during the rains, and I never got to experience them first hand. So, naively, we kept a look out for leeches. I’m not sure what I thought would happen. I guess, I thought if we could avoid brushing up against long grass or bushes, we’d avoid the leeches. But these aren’t ticks…. Little did I know that the little bastards live in the soil. They can lie there dormant for very long periods of time, and when it rains they rise out of the dirt..standing upright with their heads hungrily thrashing around for a blood meal, which they spot by heat and vibration from the victim. The hapless hiker stands a moment to admire the view and the well camouflaged leech makes his move…..
Latham stopped a moment and pointed at his shoe. ” Is that one?!”” We both recoiled in horror when we realized it was. It was tiny and thin, more like a threadworm that the slug-like creature I had imagined. (It turns out they only look like slugs once they are full of blood.) He kicked and squished it. It broke the spell and we couldn’t get off the trail fast enough! The initiation could have been worse…we could have been bitten….
And for the truly brave….here are a couple of leech pictures (from the internet I might add)…no way were we going to stop and take a picture!