Little Red Lentil: The beautiful struggle of travel

When the going gets tough, that's where the good stuff is.

Little Red Lentil

You've just spent four days in the Himalaya. Not a Herculean task by any stretch of the imagination. Still, you're sore and happy to be so. After a few week of solo travel around Nepal you've begun to feel at home. Father gave you a 1 out 10 chance of survival. Mother cried a few days before departure. Brother told you he loved you...just in case. But you've done it. The pinnacle of your journey is complete. You've seen the snow-crested peaks of the Himalaya at sunrise. And they have seen you.

The hot water pours out of the hotel shower as a testament to civilization. A rarified glass of scotch and a cheeseburger await you at Moondance. The indulgent expat bar fills the senses with a mix of exoticism and luxury. An oasis of Western crunchiness that uses words like "organic", "craft-brew", and "homemade kombucha". The Dhaal Bhaat and momos of local tea-houses have been fantastic. But this sacred bovine flesh tastes so good. You saunter home, full of spirits and lactic acid. A little reading seems in order.

Two hours later as you read Lonely Planet on the bed you notice it. A little red lentil. It's crawling across your guidebook. As it traverses the Rapti River on page 64 you snap the book shut for a second and open it to a streak of red. Blood. Your own. You look down to find your ankle with a few "lentil" bites. Like one of those war films where the main characters' ears finally tune in after a grenade sets off a long ringing, it dawns on you. Bed bugs.

"The Dhaal Bhaat and momos of local tea-houses have been fantastic. But..."

And so it begins

12:42am. Curfew ends at sunrise. Bags are packed. Examination of the rest of the room takes place with Holmesian attention to detail. It's not an infestation, but certainly whoever stayed in this room previously had brought a few friends along. But alas, it's past midnight and past curfew. The rest of the hotel is booked and management isn't familiar with the concept of bed bugs.

You resolve to spend the night in the lobby. With hushed footfalls you stealthily place yourself next to the front door so as not to disturb the slumbering receptionist just a few feet away. In the pale light of rationed fluorescent you lock your backpack around the base of a chair, slip off your shoes and place your head gingerly onto the cold tile. "A little sleep is better than none".

At that moment, the phone rings at the desk. Slumber is banished from the receptionist's existence. Likewise, you find yourself banished from the lobby. Ostensibly the lobby is not a suitable replacement for a room.

Bathtub banter

3am. Thank Brahma that the Wi-Fi is functional. You viber your girlfriend in the U.S. and she keeps you company as you wait for sunrise. The hours crawl slowly, but you're thankful for her digital presence. Traveling alone was a way to get in touch with solitude. Yet you've found it has actually drawn you ever closer into an intimate bond of family, friend, and romance. Facebook tells you that a friend met in Namobuddha just got food poisoning in Varanasi. You bond over your discomfort. The boasts you made of survival and comfort a few hours ago play back in your mind. Humility fills the 6x5 lavatory and you petition the Divine for forgiveness for your #firstworldproblems horning in on His more serious work. You vow to never let the pride of imperialist superiority overcome your self-awareness ever again. Almost as if an answer to prayer, the sun sends its first rays through the little bathroom window and send you out the door like a flash.

Beauty and breakfast

7am. You chew a Pain Au Chocolate at Cafe 17. Licking your existential wounds with a masala tea. The sun shines and you can see a football game beginning in the distance. Regulars begin to stop by for their morning coffee. No one is aware of the travails of the night before. In the light of day, you realize what a tremendous story this will be someday. How you singlehandedly overcame the horrors of red lentil invasion...

But wait. Your prayer at dawn is recalled. Your heart softens. You remember your family. Your girlfriend. And the sky opens up fully as if to say...

"This is why you came here. This is what you sought. Now, go...and sin no more.

You smile and chuckle at your foolishness. As the last sip of masala touches your lips you rise from your seat and head for the bus depot.

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Celebrate Endangered Species Day.

An endangered species is not a tragedy, because if a species is endangered, then they aren't yet extinct.

Sadly, there are millions of endangered species across the world, all facing threats that mostly stem from human activities. Still, it's not too late. Take a gander at these majestic animals, and then donate to a wildlife fund or environmental activism group of your choice.


Of course, nature doesn't need saving—humans do—and climate change and environmental destruction are threats to humans as well as animals, but if you need a reminder of the beauty and fragility of the natural world, check out these extraordinary species.



SPONSORED

Do Non-Melatonin Sleep Aids Really Work?

Objective makes a chocolate square.

I Can't Sleep.

I truly cannot remember the last time I had a good night's rest. Even before the stay-at-home orders, I was just a little ball of nerves.

But lately, it's been awful. I toss and turn, it's always too hot or even too cold, sometimes I make myself tea and read for a bit, but when I'm still up at 1 a.m., I reach for my phone and then I'm up until 3. My sister and I have a weekly call, and our small talk about our exhaustion turned into an hour long conversation about sleep.

I Thought I'd Tried Everything. Even Melatonin.

My sister asked why I hadn't gone for the old staple, melatonin and I reminded her about the time we traveled abroad, and it gave me the weirdest nightmares (the horrible kind where you wake up in your dream and you're still in a dream). Chamomile tea didn't work, nothing worked.

She said she had a friend who swore by something I definitely hadn't heard of.

They Were NOT Pills, Teas or Anything I'd Seen Before.

A company called Objective makes Fast Asleep, a sleep solution delivered as chocolatey treats. They're created with saffron and GABA. If going to sleep was as easy as eating a piece of these chocolatey, minty delights every night, I'd be sold.

What Exactly Was In It?

Cocoa contains caffeine, so I didn't know how this would help me sleep. After talking with my sister, I went online and saw that the calming, sleep-supporting ingredients cancel out any of the very little caffeine content.

Saffron, the spice, is apparently known to help with staying asleep, and their GABA is a fermented version of the neurotransmitter that's known to help you relax and fall asleep faster. In a study, 100% of customers saw improvement in their sleep quality thanks to saffron. One hundred percent!

Do I Try It?

A bag of 30 pieces was only $40, and they had a money-back guarantee.

They're keto-friendly and only 30 calories a piece, so not too decadent before bedtime.

They were chocolatey-minty, which is my favorite flavor, so I was sold. I ordered a bag to try.

The First Night, I Wasn't Impressed.

I took one piece (super yummy!) - 30-60 minutes before bedtime is recommended - but when I climbed in, I didn't notice a difference. I was worried I'd wasted my money.

However, once I fell asleep, I stayed asleep until my alarm went off, which hasn't always been the case for me.

I checked the site again, and noticed that many people didn't notice a real difference until the third or fourth night - it builds up in your system over time, so I decided to keep an open mind the rest of the week.

The Second Night Was Completely Different

Without doing anything differently from the first night, my second night was amazing. I felt calm and sleepy as I was getting ready for bed, and once I hit the pillow, I was out the whole night.

It had to be these sweet treats. The next day, I even felt more balanced and relaxed - Fast Asleep helps boost serotonin levels and reduce cortisol (the stress hormone), and I definitely noticed a difference in my overall mood and alertness.

I Already Ordered More.

Just In Case! There's nothing habit-forming about this product, so it's completely safe to take every night, and I honestly always want to keep it in the house. I'd also love to offer it to anyone staying over in the guest room, whenever we have guests again.

Now that I'm getting a healthy 8 hours of sleep every night, I feel more equipped during the day to tackle the things I need to do and deal with some of my daytime stressors. I finally had the energy to clean the kitchen, which had been bothering me so much for the past few weeks.

With Objective's Fast Asleep, I get real sleep and balance my levels, so I don't have to feel tired during my waking hours. Sleep in the form of chocolate squares sounds so weird, but oh my goodness, do they work.

Our partners at Objective Wellness are currently offering a 25% discount if you use the coupon code STAYHOME. Check them out here!

Food & Drink

The Best Apps for Craft Beer Delivery

Try beers from all over the world–from your phone.

With breweries and distilleries out of business for the foreseeable future, your favorite beer may feel particularly out of reach this time of year, especially with the weather changing. But don't let quarantine suck all the fun out of summer. Luckily, thanks to technology, a lot of craft beer is now deliverable straight to your door step. Here are a few of the best apps to help make sure you stay up to date on the latest trendy brews.

Tavour

Tavour

Simplistic and elegant, Tavour allows users to easily fill up a box of beer over a period of time before shipping. The app offers more than 650 different breweries both local and national and is perfect for those who like to experiment. It's easy to use, and their menu rotates regularly so you and your beer never grow stale.

TapRM

TapRM

TapRM offers a wide range of both craft beers and hard seltzers. While based almost exclusively in New York City, the app offers fast, same day delivery from some of the best beer brands in the world. They also provide a unique selection of beers to help you find your new favorite. All you need to do is download the app and place your order!

Drizly

Offering a stark variety of craft beer, Drizly allows its users to mix and match 12-packs, sixers or by the bottle. Their guarantee is that they can have whatever you order delivered to your house in less than an hour. You can even schedule your delivery for a specific time, with each delivery taking around 20-40 minutes.

Saucey

Saucey takes delivery very seriously. When you order with them they guarantee that they'll deliver in 30-minutes or less, or they guarantee two day shipping. Also, beer aside, their entire liquor cabinet is also up for grabs. From tequila and whiksey, to vodka and wine, nothing is off the table for Saucey.

Beer Menus

BeerMenus

For those who enjoy strictly local beers, BeerMenus features a tap list from local bars and a broader stock list from your neighborhood beer store. With that, you can make sure to create a list of your favorite beers in your neighborhood, so that when they're in stock you can be ready to go.