All this week here at Campfire Collective, we’ve been doing an in-depth dive on the merits of various Nepalese watercraft. Lemme tell ya: it has been thrilling.
In the last two features, we’ve covered the “rowboat” and the “tube.” Those are, admittedly, watercraft for beginners. So today we’re going to focus on the more experienced sportsmen out there and tackle the best boats on the lake. Yes, it is time for the “rusty pontoon.”
Since the little town of Pokhara is paradise for all manner of outdoor activities and adventure travel, we’ve gone to both lakes around town to find the finest boating experiences for your trekking holiday at the top of the world. Aside from being a great name for an adult film star, rusty pontoon is the height of luxury in your Nepalese boating holiday.
Since sometimes the water gods bless broke writers with beautiful stories, you are now traveling with some acrobats and entertainers from a certain circus which shall remain nameless, to protect the innocent and the guilty. This has given you a unique perspective and a potential target audience.
So, if you are a world class high diver and can swim like Aquaman (the Jason Hartley version from the unseen Aquaman television pilot for the CW, not the big screen Jason Momoa version) here are some fun activities you can try while out on a rusty pontoon.
Because money is like water and the boat is only half full, hire not one but two Nepali pilots. They aren’t called boat captains or boat drivers, they are called pilots. But only the divers and the acrobats are flying: the moment they reached an appropriate depth, and not a microsecond before or after, they begin back flipping and front somersaulting and side twisting in.
Have one of those pilot’s swim back to shore and bring you a monkey wrench and a screwdriver, so you can disassemble the cabin and refashion it into a scaffold with a makeshift diving board on top.
One of the acrobats is at the top of the scaffold and does a half gainer into the blue green water. It is the most graceful thing you’ve seen a human doing in ages. The dragonflies around the boat, hovering just above the surface, are more graceful every second, but that is not a fair thing to do, comparing a human to such a marvelous insect.
If you are an endurance swimmer with otherworldly cardio, you can hop in and push the whole rusty floating vehicle into a bay and jump like a salmon from the water, grab an overhanging branch, and climb deep into the jungle canopy. You can triple somersault down into the lake and not even leave a splash, just a little ripple and a quiet gulping noise, like a fish had surfaced and decided this world just wasn’t for him.
If you are a writer who swims pretty well for an old guy but has a bad back and a belly full of fizzy Sprite, the good kind, straight from the bottle and with real cane sugar, here are some things you can do on rusty pontoon:
Turn your back on the entertainers, who are all swimming underwater or flying through the air anyway, and cry like a lost and broken fool because your daughter got so homesick she went back to Cambodia, to go to boarding school with her old friends.
Cry like your toddler does when you tell him he can’t jump headfirst from the top of the boat into shallow water, as your new companions and his first role models are doing.
Cry a shocking amount more than your wife does. A shocking amount. Cry like the proud redneck you are, dammit. Stop crying when your son shouts “water!”
Appreciate his consistency. Appreciate his daring: he started walking six months ago and is now attempting a handstand on the bow. Appreciate how he makes you understand that homesickness, longing and loss are like dragonflies darting just above the lake: fast and fleeting and gorgeous in their own scary little ways.