I’m back from my trek through Mustang, Nepal. Since I blegged here for toys, books, and laptops to take to rural schools along my route, I thought readers might want to learn what actually happened on the trek. I’ve begun posting installments from my travel journal on Skating on Stilts. Since the Volokh Conspiracy isn’t exactly a travel blog, I don’t plan to post them all here. But for those who are interested, here’s a link, and a taste, from the first installment. More to come soon.
The Royal Audience
It’s time for our audience with the raja.
There’s just one problem.
“What else can I wear?” I ask my son, Gordon.
I mean it literally. The raja and his remnant kingdom are tucked high in the Himalayas between Tibet and Nepal at an altitude of 12,000 feet and more. And with the shadows growing long, I am cold.
So, protocol can go hang. What I want to know is whether there are any more clothes I can put on before we meet the Raja of Lo. I’m wearing a watch cap, a rain jacket, cargo pants, and long underwear. Not enough. After walking four days to get to Lo Manthang, the kingdom’s ancient capital, we’ve already got on all the clean clothes we brought with us. And most of the dirty ones.
I feel a little guilty. I spent nearly four years representing the United States in meetings with foreign officials — meetings where it was a major faux pas to wear the wrong lapel pin. The kingdom of Lo has can trace its roots to 1380; it has had a king about three times as long as the United States has had a president. And I am going to sit down with its king wearing dusty hiking shoes and a watch cap.
I am pretty sure our protocol officer wouldn’t have approved.
Our guide entered the room. “Quickly please!” he said. “The raja will see you now.” I rise to my feet and head down to the street, stopping only to tuck a small bottle of local whiskey into my pocket.