The Tribhuvan International Airport was brick, and the international terminal seemed to consist of only a only a couple of rooms. The Visa process went flawlessly, and I easily found a baggage cart and retrieved my bags. “This isn’t too bad,” I thought. Sure, it only had the bare minimum for an airport, but I did not feel confused nor endngered and I walked confidently through customs and outside.
I had spoken too soon.
My cart and I were whisked away by someone saying “Kathmandu Guest House.” “I need to know who you’re here to pick up,” I insisted, to which the man replied, “My friend has the list at the car.” I refused to let him take the cart, but followed him, vowing absolutely not to get into a car unless the driver produced my full name. Sure I enough, a man in a suit pointed out my name on a list, so I nervously hopped into the passenger seat (on the left side of the car) and the van took off.
We wound along undivided roads, hopping over blemishes and potholes. The driver, along with all others on the road, utilized his horn liberally whenever a car whipped past in the opposite direction. We barrelled down small alleys and semblaces of highways, past bikes and bike taxis, and swerved around pedestrians, almost hitting them with our sideview mirrors.
Haunting shapes of dilapidated buildings lined the road in the dark. We passed a hollowed-out parking garage with rickety scaffolding creeping up the front, though there were no signs of construction. Trash lined the sides of the streets like bumpers on a bowling alley. Each house and building remained guarded from the road by a corrugated metal garage door. Groups of people stood and sat in front of houses, mostly just chatting, but some dancing.
As I lay down in my bed at the Kathmandu Guest House, the echoes of honks and yells from my ride in still rang in my ears. I went to sleep, completely exhausted, past midnight.