Asia | Nepal | Kathmandu Valley | Kathmandu – The night of the killer mosquitoes.
How does a person even begin to tell the tale of a week like the one I have just endured? I suppose I should begin with the night of the killer mosquitoes.
Suffering from a severe headache, I went to my room to lay down and relax to some quiet music. Suddenly, I was awoken from an unexpected sleep. The clock said it was almost midnight and I was under attack by battalions of blood thirsty mosquitoes. I jumped out of bed, opened my door and literally pushed a handful out into the hall. I then spent about 45 minutes engaged in a thorough search and destroy mission. When the enemy was apparently defeated, I stopped to assess the damages. After counting the 35th bite on my arms and legs, I gave up. Never before, nor since, have I seen more than one or two mosquitoes in my room.
A couple of days later, I became the victim of thieves. Throughout my 11 years of international travel, I have had excellent luck in protecting myself and my belongings. Never once has anything been stolen from my person. On this particular day, I guess my number was called, ‘Now serving number 32.’ ‘Hey thats me!’ I was sitting in a jewelry shop having tea with my acquaintance the shopkeeper. Three finely dressed Tibetan women and a girl of about 3 years came into the shop. My daypack was on the floor next to my feet. An elaborate version of the old bump and pick method of pick pocketing ensued. The first woman distracted the shopkeeper by asking to see multiple items from his case. The second woman, pregnant or perhaps hiding a mass of ill gotten goods, stood in the narrow doorway. I did not find this odd as the shop was very small. The third woman stood beside me while the 3 year old waddled around behind me. The third woman then began poking me in the arm to get me to look at something in the case. I thought this a bit strange, but as I could see all the women, I didn’t think much of it. Little did I suspect that the cute 3 year old with a winning smile was fishing in my bag and removing my small money purse. She then jumped into her mother’s arms, a blanket was tied around to carry her and all the women stood and left. As obvious as the circumstances of my loss are now, at the time I had no idea what had happened. I finished my tea and left the shop. My next stop was an internet café to send out some e-mails. As I went to pay for my time, I was hit in the face by a big dose of reality. My money bag was gone and 3 year olds can not be trusted!!! I agreed to return later to settle my bill and set off back to the jewelry shop. The shopkeeper and I went over the events and came to the above conclusion.
My losses were not so devastating. I had less than 50USD worth of Nepali rupees, my insurance and medical information and most important of all my photos of my husband and our families. The photos are what hurt me most since they were a great source of comfort when I missed my love and family. Normally, I would not have been out with more than 500 rupees in my bag (about 7 USD) but I had planned to buy a rain jacket that day for the coming monsoon season. As fate would have it, I was standing in the street angry, sad and without money (or a rain jacket) when with the speed of the robbery itself, the weather shifted and I found myself being soaked in a hard pre-monsoon rain. I began to laugh at the irony of it all I missed the next day of work as I had to go to Interpol along with the shopkeeper to report the incident. I also made a futile attempt at the Danish Embassy to get help replacing my documents.
Foolish as I am, I figured this must be the end of my run of bad luck. I decided to just wait for my husband to get home to Denmark to send me a copy of my insurance policy numbers. In the meantime, I thought I would just be fine as long as I didn’t get sick or hurt until his return. Oh how those thoughts would later haunt me!
The scene is now a couple of days later, yesterday in fact. I decided to take a nice morning walk to the news stand for a copy of the Kathmandu Post. Along the way, I found myself on the ground having been run down by a motorcycle. Before I could even register what had just happened, a crowd had gathered and a policeman was asking me if I wished to be taken to the hospital. Suddenly remembering my lack of medical insurance documents, I declined the offer. Refusing to be beaten by this city, I hobbled along with my sprained ankle, broken toe, probable broken metatarsal and a tire track running down the back of my leg and victoriously procured my morning paper. I then limped back to the safety of my hotel and sent out for medical tape and stretch bandages and administered the best first aide I could manage. After the adrenaline wore off I felt the pain of not only my leg, but also my wrist and my back having been twisted as I landed half under the motorcycle during the accident.
My mother has always warned me never to ask ‘what next?’ and I am trying desperately, but not successfully, not to even think those words. As is my natural response to hardship, I find myself laughing at the absurdity of it all even now as I type these words to you.