Friday, July 8, 2011

Actually, Yes. Mexican Food in Nepal? Same Same but Different. (Annapurna Circuit Day Five)

Stupa in Upper Pisang
Date: April 26, 2011
Start: Lower Pisang, Manang
Finish: Manang
Distance:  19 km
Elevation:  3550 m (climb 530 meters)

With a long day ahead of us we started early, and after 45 minutes of relatively flat walking we had a hard 2 hour uphill hike.   Switchback after switchback after switchback.  Finally, we reached Ghyaru and took a well-deserved snack break.  Snickers, almonds, peanuts, and even Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookies were broken out to celebrate the successful 470 meter (1542 ft) climb.
The Marshyangdi river from our new, and much higher, vantage point. 

This young Nepali can't believe that we hiked all that way before 8 AM!
After the switchbacks come the steps
Nepali woman.
I know how she's feeling, and she does those steps every day.
Ghyaru flying its colorful prayer flags.
Snackbreak Ghyaru.
Look at me eyeing the backpacks with our bounty of snacks.

Ted and Charles get artistic in the high altitude. 

The view from Ghyaru
As we cruised the high plateau we stopped for a long lunch at the Peaceful Hotel in Ngawal.  Of note was the freezing cold dining room, exceptionally slow service, and surprisingly delicious carb-on-carb action.
My and Charles's lunch of swiss rosti (pan-fried mashed potatoes
with a sprinkling of yak cheese) and a heaping plate of mashed potatoes.
The remainder of the day took us through the "flat" plains leading to the slight rise into the “city” of Manang (pop: 250).  Excitedly, we pushed for the last hour into town, with its promises of fresh baked chocolate croissants, cinnamon rolls, and apple streusel.  (Good tip Poncho!).
A little uphill
A little downhill

And rarely, but gloriously, flat 

Outside Manang, Nepal.
And I immediately demanded the entire group stop for these fellows
(after a brief investigation of all three of the town's bakeries)
Not pictured: the delicious Illy latte that accompanied the pastries.

And did I mention that our hotel served Mexican food?  It did, and serves it up in a Chili’s-style cast-iron skillet!  The sizzling platter was filled with onions, potatoes, and canned mushrooms along with a fresh flour tortilla, and Mexican rice (a somewhat surprising concoction of rice, diced carrots, and ketchup).  The food tasted good and slid down easily.  Less excitingly, it slid out even easier.
Double less excitingly: All things had to slide into that.

At the end of the night, and with the next day a hike-free acclimatization day, we celebrated Danny and Darren’s 30th birthdays.   We headed to the local bar, where, to my great surprise they sold Red Label, Black Label, and most shockingly, Green Label.  The prices were equally surprising.  Red, $5.36, Black $5.64; and Green $6.43.  Needless to say, the Green Labels were especially delicious.

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