After waking up to purple sunrise views the next morning, we pushed ourselves upwards on the final stretch to Gosainkunda. We had run out of personal things to talk about, so the subject turned to politics. We compared the histories of Nepal and Colombia, and realised that both countries not only have mountains but also violent pasts. We acknowledged that the same mountains we love, the Himalaya and the Andes, have also witnessed the cruelty of civil wars on opposite sides of the world. There are decades of wounds, scars, stories of courage and sacrifice that are still alive among our peoples.
Nepal went through a 10-year war between the government and Maoist guerillas (1996-2006) and ended with a comprehensive peace accord that enabled their political participation and the induction of a part of the rebel militia into the national army.
Colombia has faced 60 years of armed conflict between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), other smaller communist guerrillas, paramilitary groups and political elites that have been fighting over land, political power and drug trafficking routes. Colombia also signed a peace agreement in 2016 with FARC that brought relative stability. However, in Colombia’s case, remote areas which are strategic for the drug trade will continue to be unstable as long as there is a global demand for cocaine. The white powder is stained with much bloodshed.
Our childhoods in Nepal and Colombia were similar – both of us grew up with daily news of bombings, kidnappings and murders of civilians and social leaders on highways, mountains and forests. For Nepalis and Colombians, traveling this freely was impossible during the conflict – this trek was a gift from history. We hoped our mountains can witness healing conversations and reconciliation among the people residing on their slopes.
We had lunch in Cholangpati, and because it was the winter off-season we were the only guests. After devouring a dal bhat we continued our ascent to Laurebina (3,920m) and looked down at a carpet of clouds to the west. And it was another two hours to the still waters of Gosainkunda, with a full moon rising over the ridge.