After a year of anticipation we were off to a holiday in the Himalayas. For a while we could forget the pandemic. We had tested negative the day before the flight, and we were due for our first shot of vaccine the day after we were to come back. Just enough precaution during travel, and we would be on the home stretch. It felt good to be in the air. Our familiar aluminum tube was half empty, full of masked strangers. But that old sense of exhilaration, endless horizons was back.
A full day of travel! The airline had changed schedule. Our two hour flight became five with a half hour layover. The check in process has expanded, from one hour to three. After the flight there was an exhausting drive from sea level to 2000 meters. The roads have not exactly improved in the last year. But by the time the sun set, we had reached our destination. A tiny village in a horseshoe of mountains around a deep valley in the north of the Bengal Himalayas. Off on one side we could see Sikkim. On another side, three ridges across was the border with Bhutan. Around us lights twinkled from villages sprinkled among the cliffs. The night was crisp and cold. The wooden cabin was unheated. I stepped out to take a photo, then went back inside. It was time to curl up under a thick quilted cotton comforter. By morning the cabin would be warm.