Annapurna and the Importance of Saying Hello

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in a beautiful place called Yogyakarta. It had been 2 weeks since my friend Jorge left. I was traveling by myself then amidst my journey through the island of Java. As I walked into my hostel dorm after a long day of walking around, I saw this new girl unpacking. I said hello. She looked at me and replied back. I noticed she had an accent and asked her if she was British, to which she said: “Oh no! No no, I’m German”. We laughed and after that, we struck a conversation. She told me about her travels and that she was on a year-long trip around the world to learn, work and explore. She was only 20 years old, but even then, she had done and seen way more things than me (me being 8 years older than her). She then started talking about her trip to Nepal, and how she had hiked over 100 miles in the Himalayas for two weeks, completing a circuit called Annapurna, which stands at an altitude of 5,400 meters. To say I was impressed is an understatement. Here she was, this young girl, that had done a hike by herself in a country I always thought was too dangerous to visit. She told me: “It was amazing, you have to do it!”. I replied: “There is no way. The longest hike I’ve ever done has been about 3 hours long. I don’t think I can do over 100 miles in 2 weeks, let alone in that attitude”. She convinced me by saying: “If I can do it, you can do it too”. So that was it! I was changing my plans and I was heading to Nepal. I couldn’t let my new friend Mona down. I was very excited but also very scared since I had no idea what I was getting myself into. We became friends and ended up traveling together through the rest of Java, having many adventures and great times, she even taught me how to play Sudoku.

At 5,416 meters

4 months passed and I was 2 weeks from heading to Nepal. I was in my first stop through Myanmar, where I was going to be for 2 weeks (a place where I also ended up going after two people told me I had to go, yup I guess that’s how I work…). At the hostel I was staying at, they provided breakfast, so I went down to the kitchen, got my food and sat down to eat. At my table there was this girl eating as well. I said hello, she replied, and we starting talking. We talked about our journeys so far and where we were heading next. Then I said, “After here I’m going to Nepal, to do the Annapurna circuit”. She got excited and said “Oh! I have a friend in Katmandu (capital of Nepal), here is his name and phone number, you have to go meet him, he is a great guy”. I didn’t know anyone in Nepal and had no idea where I was heading, so her recommendation was perfect. In Katmandu I looked for her friend Keshab, he ended up being a great guy; the owner of a hotel and travel agency that organized trips to the Himalayas. The coincidence was impressive. We ended up becoming friends, he introduced me to his friends and he showed me around his city. We ate some great Nepalese food and had a great time. He helped me plan my trip, told me what equipment I needed for the hike, and even got me a guide (sorry Mona, I was not as adventurous as you). My experience hiking the Himalayas was amazing, it will be something that I will never forget, and all of it because I said, “Hello”.

Lesson: you never know where the next “Hello” will take you, be friendly and talk to people, you never know what you can learn from them.

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