The Himalayas of Nepal attract people from all over the world who want to tackle the earthís tallest mountains. Many people hire a trekking guide to take them on a day, week, or even month-long trek. There are numerous regions to trek in, each offering unique scenery and terrain. You can bring camping gear and make camp every night along your route, or you can stay in one of the many teahouses perched along most of the larger trails. With all these choices, a more simple choice is often overlooked. Should you hire a male or a female guide?
The bottom line is that it depends on who you would feel the most comfortable with. Iím an open person, and sometimes my interest in others is taken as sexual interest, and I worried about being alone with a man in the middle of nowhere. With a woman, I could get to know her and learn about Nepalese culture without any worry of that.
I met Madhu for the first time the morning we left for my trek. She was a tiny woman, probably less than five feet tall. But she stronger and older than she looked, with a smile that took over her entire face. And she loved to laugh. She sang Nepalese folk songs as we hiked up steep trails of step-like rocks, and again once we settled into our rooms for the night. The first night on the trail, Madhu sang while the owner of the lodge played hand drums and the rest of us danced. She watched out for me when men hit on me, but she also taught me a phrase in Nepalese, and then told me it meant, ďI like Nepali boy,ď before roaring with laughter. She invited me to her home for lunch when we returned from trekking, and she brought me a tape with songs that she had sung while we hiked. She became a friend that I still email to this day. I donít think that I would have had the same kind of experience with a man. We were able to break down the barriers of language and race and bond over our similar experience of being women in a male-dominated world. In the end, hiring a woman guide not only made me feel more comfortable, but it allowed me to get more inside of a culture that I might have only scratched the surface of without Madhu.