I was eager to get back into the warm bath, so I jumped up and pulled on my swimming suit hastily. It was a most remarkable coincidence that I had a suit with me at all. The day before I packed for Nepal, a friend had sent me a box of books to donate to the children at the village school. She included pencils and stickers, which came in very handy, and surprisingly, she sent me a new swimming suit that she had bought in the wrong size for herself. I would normally never pack a swimming suit for Nepal. Pools are hard to come by and I am suspicious of the water quality. But the suit was there in my hand, and so I threw it into the case. I had no idea that the my adopted family would be taking me on a trip up to the hot springs at Tatopani.
Tania needed a little extra time for her morning ablutions, so the boys and I went ahead of her to the baths. As we approached, I heard the deep, sonorous harmonies of "Om mani padme hum." At the far side of the tub, beneath the spigots, were three monks each with a sacred white head covering. They chanted all the while as we disrobed, the boys stripping to their underwear. I was a little concerned that my feminine flesh would be disturbing to the monks but the boys didn't appear to have any reservations. Tania followed the chants and soon found her way to the tubs well. She peeled down to a bikini and entered the water as discreetly as possible. We stayed very quiet so as not to disturb the morning meditation. I settled in on the right side of the tub and watched enraptured as the sun, rising in concert with the melodic chants, began to lighten the sky behind the mountain peaks. As our surroundings brightened, to my amazement, I watched the monks transform completely. It was soon clear that these were not men at all but women with very deep voices. Nuns, perhaps, I thought. A few moments later I could see that the sacramental vestiments they wore on their heads were actually white plastic bags meant to keep their hair from getting wet. Sacred and holy all the same, but still a very good reminder that events are not always as they appear, especially across cultures.
|The View from the hot springs|
|Looking at the View|
|I'm sitting outside our guest house in the early morning after our bath. We are having milk tea and waiting for breakfast. Here you see me writing the Lyrics to 'A Froggy Went a Courtin,' for JR to teach his students.|
|Our gear is packed and ready for the hike back down. Tania and JR are standing in front of the kitchen building.|
|This is what it looks like inside the kitchen. Actually it was very dark inside, but my camera has illuminated the view for you.|
|Goodbye, Tatopani. Goodbye, Spectacular View. I hope I will come this way again someday.|