18 aug,2023 I am Shabtai, a strong man in his 80s making the most out of life and breaking the stigma that comes with age. I have been traveling to Nepal frequently since 2012 AD. This country has everything to offer; elegant landscapes, welcoming people, great food and inspiring heritage. I like being around nature, rivers, butterflies and snakes. Every aspect in the ecosphere makes me feel nurtured. What amazes me the most about Nepal is its people, they are very sweet and take pride in their glorious culture. They are well informed about the world and have remarkable wit. We assume locals wouldn't know much about the treks but they have mastered their lands.
Travelling in Nepal is different from other countries - In a foreign setting I have no worries about arrangements, there is always a tour guide who looks after all the arrangements - In Nepal you have to be responsible; from buying tickets, to renting a vehicle, to talking with directors, you do it all yourself. The diverse landscapes are another unique thing about Nepal. Did I mention people? They are gentle compared to other places. They always know when to help you; even if you do not ask for help they just know and are always there to support you. They are empathetic.
I started with the known treks like the ABC trek. Since I am 86, I can not take difficult roads like young travellers. If I could, I would travel every part of Nepal, the highs and the lows. However, at 86, I am aware of my limitations; my strength and my capability to endure physical strain is limited. But I train and maintain healthy eating habits, I am mindful of what goes in and out of my body, and hence, I can do much more than others my age. I hope to continue moving and traveling beyond my 90s. My soul is still young, wild and free. Being 90 doesn’t concern me, it's four years away, and I would be thrilled to welcome it.
I grew up by the beach but nothing beats the ecstasy of the mountains. The ocean is magnificent, deep and blue but my heart lies in the snow, big rocks and the foggy mornings. It is ironic, my mother grew up in the mountains and she prefers the beach, for me it's the reverse. I think it's in our nature to desire things we do not have.
When you are climbing a mountain, there's this fear of uncertainty lurking in the background, but once you reach the peak, although the fear never leaves, you experience a strange sense of safety. You feel powerful and safe. I feel the same safety when I am home, when I walk the streets in Israel; I feel like jumping, I greet strangers with a smile. I share my experiences with my grandkids, I feel the learnings should be passed down to them. I am quite disciplined when I am with my children and my grandchildren. One of the biggest pleasures in life is hanging out with them. One of my grandchildren once said, “we admire you”. They take pride in me and I take pride in them.This mutual admiration makes me happy. That is my world.
I am not always the rushing water, the old age does bring some woes. I am frustrated by my existing eye condition, I would be lying if I tell you it does not concern me. There are so many places I can't visit due to this condition. It has bothered me so much that I have run every possible eye test in Israel. The hospital there concluded I have an untreatable eye disease and I just have to live with it. I do face problems now and then but no disease will stop me from doing what I want; travel.
People often ask me, what's so special about Nepal that i visit frequently. Honestly, the answer is simple, it makes you want to explore more. Even at my age and restrictions, the beauty of this country never fails to mesmerize. Although a tiny nation, it has so many water bodies and hills that are unsolicited, untouched by modern alterations and these need to be witnessed and appreciated. Nepal gives me hope, that's why it is my favorite destination to visit.