Monkeys on the Runway

30 May

I am fortunate to have travelled quite a bit in my life.  I have napped on beautiful white sand beaches, navigated through the back streets of Europe, seen the ruins of Machu Picchu, drifted along the Amazon.  I have seen the Andes, the Alps, the Rockies.  But none of these compares to the Himalayas.

We took a short 25-minute flight from Pokhara to Kathmandu, flying along the mountain range.  The Pokhara airport is tiny, and the metal detector in the “security” section was broken.  The flight announcement we were told would be made was actually just a man running around telling passengers it was time to go through security.  While waiting for our flight, we saw a small Buddha Air plane take off.  We were told that was our plane.  The small propeller plane made its way to Kathmandu and back in one hour, getting us in the air just in time to see the Himalayas peaking its white tips high into the sky.

The two curtains behind me block off the security rooms at the airport.  There are no x-ray machines and the metal detectors weren’t working, so the men and women were taken into the separate rooms for a pat down.

After we landed in Kathmandu, someone pointed to small figures running across the runway.  I turned and saw dozens of monkeys running from one end to the other and over a high fence into the trees.  I shouldn’t have been so surprised to see them.  Animals run free all over Nepal.  In fact, Chitwan, in Southern Nepal, has a large National Park that houses Bengal tigers, leopards, pythons and the second largest population of Asian Rhinoceros.  In Kathmandu, large cows with fresh marigold wreaths around their necks sleep unharmed like center dividers in the busy streets.  But for some reason, the monkeys on the runway completely caught me off guard.

Dozens of monkeys ran across the runway and climbed over the fence.

We arrived back in Kathmandu around noon, and seeing the drive to the hotel in the daylight gave me a completely different perspective of the city.  Our first time there, it was pitch black when we arrived, and my mom joked that it was a good thing I couldn’t see where we were going.  This time, I saw the back alleys, the rubble on the side of the road, the pothole-ridden street that led to our hotel.  I was thankful that I had already seen Kathmandu in the daylight, because if this were my first impression, I would have asked the driver to turn around.

The Kathmandu baggage claim.  The men stand on the carts waving the luggage until someone claims it.


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