A quick update with a moment from yesterday that I forgot to mention:
There are 365 steps leading from the street to the top of the Buddhist stupa at the monkey temple. One for each day of the year. On our walk back down to street level, the man who has been showing us around stopped me and pointed out a tree a ways off the path. Perched on its branches we're over 20 golden eagles with the Himalayas in the background through a layer of smog. Such big beautiful birds. The contrast between the dirty streets/air and the mountains and animals is the hardest thing to fathom here. The poverty of the city contrasts with the rich views and landscapes. The thought that it is taken for granted definitely crosses my mind, but so many of the people here never leave, so maybe they don't know that the rest of the world doesn't look like this and therefore have no qualms about blocking the surrounding mountains with a cloud of pollution. Regardless of the pollution and poverty, Nepal is a magical place full of wonderful people and I feel very fortunate to be experiencing all it has to offer.