Monthly Archives: November 2013

tired but happy

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Hello everybody,

please excuse bad writing and errors. i have 20 minutes to get this done. We are well into our trek and it has been great. the weather has been our friend. apparently a week ago there were storms and snow but we have had comfortable sunny weather every day. the nights have been cold but we expected that.

we are passing little villages as we go and this one has an internet cafe.  yesterday we stayed at the tengboche monestary and we went to the morning prayers. it was very neat. i wish i could remember the chanting to help me up the tough bits. it is one of the highest monestarys  in the world.

today we have had a acclimatization day. they call it a rest day. i suppose if you consider hiking up a 45 degree angle to 5000 meters (not sure what that is in feet but its high)  and then back down over 5 hours a rest, then it was a rest day. it was a hard day but the scenery was stunning and and we saw eagle soaring, mountian phesants, and frozen glacier lakes.

our group is great. there are ten of us and our guide who is also awesome. everybody is in thier twenties except one lady and jim and i. there is a wide range of ability but we have a great group dynamic and everybody is very supportive.

we stay in tea houses each night and they are rudimentary but adequate. there is no hydro or heat of course but eahc one has a yak dung stove in the dining area and we can huddle around that as long as we want.  the main thing that we have been eating is something called Dal blat. it is a rice dish with lentil soup and curried vegatables. it si filling and good.

i hadnt been feeling well the last couple of days. i wasnt sleeping, had a headache and explosive bowels. ( i think that it was from the slab of yak cheeze that i bought from a lady in a stone house on the mountain) but i am feeling better now. i slept last night. i am going to close now as i have done this a few times and the internbet has gone off. so far so good. we are well and in good spirits. the weather is getting colder as we acend but god willing all will be well.

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Everest Bound

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0270495:15 am

We fly out at 6:30 this morning to Lukla to begin our trek. We met our guide last night but have met none of our climbing comrades yet. I guess we will meet them on the little plane. Our guide doesn’t speak as much English as I would have expected. There is a weight restriction of 10 kilos per big pack and 5 kilos per hand luggage. And apparently they are strict about it. I am feeling surprisingly calm. It’s like, I have decided to do this, I have prepared what I can, and now it is time. Jim is having his last shower as I write.

The only sight of the Himalayas we have seen so far was a peak through the window on the opposite side of the plane when we were arriving. I will see them this morning I think J.

I don’t usually take pictures of people unless I ask them and it is a very mixed response. Occasionally I take them from the waist surreptitiously and hope I get an image. Sometimes the children like their picture taken and so I am sharing a couple of them.

I am taking a cheap phone that I bought. In a couple of places apparently there coverage and wi fi. If I am able I will go online with my phone and try to post something fast. I may also be able to call Sabrina and she can post an update.

I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for reading. That you have taken time out of your busy life to read about my little adventures makes me feel warm inside. I like to share the experience; it makes me feel that I am getting a better bang for my buck. And if it gives you a smile, that is the cream. It’s time to go. Thank you again my friends, I will be in touch when I can.

A Day to Remember

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Our desire to get out of the city prompted me to ask the owner of our small guest house for suggestions.

“Would you like to go on raft?” he said.

“That would be lovely,” I responded.

He made a call while I sat there.

“Is forty dollars per person including transportation. Be down here at 6:30 in morning. I not be here. You pay boy in morning and he take you to bus. You go on raft and when finished you take local bus back. Pack your stuff before and I move it to other room. This room booked. Is good?” he said.

“Yes that’s good but how will we know where to go,” I said trying to get specifics and details of the plan.

“Is ok, boy take you,” he responded tamping both his hands down in a gesture of don’t worry, everything will be ok. “Other man will meet you, will take you to raft, is ok,”

“Where will the other man be? How will the rafting person and the bus know that we have paid?” I tried to confirm.

“Yes, yes, I tell,” he said. And that was that.

And so at 6:30 yesterday morning we paid the $80.00 cash to a boy we had never seen and followed him through the maze of awakening streets. He put us on a bus; spoke to the fare collecting young man, and left. Half an hour in we asked how far it was to where we were going. “2 ½ hour,” the boy told us. Shortly after that he also got off the bus.

With no paperwork, receipt or knowledge of where we were going or what the day would bring we let go of any expectation and enjoyed the ride. Our mouths hung open in amazement at the complete utter chaos of the traffic, changed to astonishment at the beauty of the mountainous cliff road we descended and changed again to terror as we slowly, carefully navigated around multiple hairpin turns with other buses going the opposite direction with not a pencils width between them. It was a sheer drop on one side and straight up the other. To try to explain the actuality of the situation would sound overly dramatic. For four hours we slowly descended. We had long since given up any thought that whoever was going to meet us would still be there when suddenly the bus stopped and a boy told us that this was our stop.  We got off the bus.

A smiling man immediately approached us and introduced himself as our guide. It was then that we realized we had a legit white water rafting adventure waiting for us.  We paddled down 25 kilometers of fun, fast-water fare similar to Cobden on the Ottawa River (except that we were heading towards India and the Ganges River) down some class 4 rapids, some of them 200 meters long. We could see the highway high above us (it was a sobering sight to see an old bus nose first in the water).  At the end of it all we were given a delicious lunch and our guide led us back to the road and flagged down a bus. I couldn’t understand the conversation but it was clear that he was insisting we not be put on the roof with the other overflow of people. The crush inside was so tight that it made the airplane space feel like my living room. One of the three men hanging out the open door decided that it would be more comfortable on the roof and swung himself up en route. We arrived back in Kathmandu safe and happily embraced our deluxe room with its double bed and ½ ply toilet paper.

The Streets of Kathmandu

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Jim and I were each blessed by a holy man on the street today. Mine was very small, robed in red and cheerfully beatific. He put marigolds in my hair and a red dot on my forehead. Marigolds here are hung in strings, float in large flat bowls and burned in the little temples that are scattered everywhere. They seem to be the sacred flower. We donated to the monastic cause and kept our karma intact.

We have spent a lot of time walking the streets of Kathmandu through areas of relative prosperity, unimaginable slums, and tourist regions and it is the same everywhere – I can’t figure out why more pedestrians aren’t laid flat and maimed. We saw two women clipped by the mirror of passing motorbikes whipping by and Jim has pulled me out of harm’s way more than once. But nobody gets riled about it; they just go about their business, constantly dodging while on the street.

I am enjoying the food. Yesterday it was chapatti hot off the pan dipped in a delicious green potato curry and noodle soup with roasted garlic and jalapenos. Tonight it was fresh small dumplings stuffed with some sort of meat and smothered in fiery reddish sauce served in a woven leaf bowl (recyclable material at is finest).  It’s all intestine blistering street food costing between 40 and 80 rupees (equaling 40 and 80 cents). And so good!

It is late evening; I must pack and get to bed. Tomorrow we are leaving at 6:30 am for a rafting trip. When we return tomorrow night we will be moving to the $25.00 multi-windowed deluxe room on the roof with a double bed and a view.

3:30 am

Can’t sleep.  My stomach is a little unhappy. It’s taking a bit of concentration to ease it. Nothing major but the dumplings were the first meat we have eaten since arriving in Nepal. I think that holding off on meat until we leave for the trek is a prudent choice.

The Adventure Begins

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The adventure begins!

Monday morning Jim’s folks drove us to the Syracuse Airport where we caught our flight to Chicago and Istanbul before arriving in Nepal today (Wed.). We have gained 11+ hours and we are seriously sleep deprived. Sleep eluded me en route – probably system overload. After sorting out visas and customs in the small Kathmandu airport it was a hair-raising taxi drive (not going to lie – I almost pooped my pants when we came within a few feet of a toddler playing on the side of the busy, narrow, dirt road we were careening down) to one of Kathmandu’s many 1 star guest houses in the bustling heart of the Thamal district.

Our large, very yellow room has three single rock hard beds with matching pillow rocks and 2 five watt lights and one nine watt. My headlamp is brighter. The toilet stall is a combination shower room that spews brown water. I desperately need a shower but I’m still working up my nerve. Hot water is doubtful. For $16 a night you don’t get the Hilton. But it does have a lovely roof top garden.

Kathmandu is a wild, busy, intoxicating city full of smells and sounds. The continual beeping of horns is constant background noise. The only rule of the road seems to be – try not to hit anything

I had a few alarming minutes this afternoon. The constricted streets are a mash of odd angles, people, scooters, cars and vendors. I was out and I lost my way back. Do you think I could remember the name of our small hotel – complete brain blackout! I plunked myself down in a random store realizing that I was in a pickle. “It has a lovely roof top garden” I inanely tried to explain to the clerk as I looked out at a sea of roof top gardens. Then it hit me that I had the room key.  I yanked it out of my pocket and can’t even tell you how happy I was to see the hotel name written on it. The store clerk directed me and all was well. An embarrassing rookie mistake.

Keeping in contact is going to be harder than planned. Until tonight, we have had no internet access since Syracuse and the internet here is spotty at best. I don’t seem to have phone coverage as the texts that I sent to the kids haven’t gone through and I have received none, and now my phone charger has broken-down. My solar powered charger also needs my phone cable and so far, I haven’t found one that fits.

We don’t meet up with our group and start our trek until Nov. 24th. Until then we will rest, hopefully sort this phone and charger stuff out and explore Kathmandu and the surrounding valley. Today’s weather was beautiful, sunny and 8 degrees.  I will try to post a couple of pictures tomorrow. And now I bid you good night.

Everest Base Camp – the cold facts

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As I pack I look at snowy, grim pictures of the Everest base camp trek in deep winter and read about the unforgiving -25 degree nights. I remember the cold and the lack of oxygen at that altitude on Kilimanjaro. I meditate to calm myself. We decide to rent the expedition sleeping bags and down coats because, honestly, in that place and in that weather you want the best down that money can buy and my gear doesn’t qualify.

So, after months of indecision, I finally buy bigger hiking boots to accommodate thicker wool socks.  I am nervous to leave my well-seasoned boots at home but I don’t want to sacrifice even the smallest increase in warmth. It’s late in the day to break in new boots but I will only take them off to shower and for bed and bed isn’t a given.

Have I trained enough? I think so but my recent eating orgy has resulted in my trusty hiking pants working harder than they were ever intended to house my reubenesque glory. S!#t! What was I thinking when I gorged myself on Kathy’s most awesome fudge and that box of discounted Halloween chocolate two weeks before I leave?  I meditate again.

A friend said, “You must be in kick-ass shape” hmmm…not so much. I would be in better shape if I had just a wee bit more time to train and didn’t have an abiding love for all things edible. As my dear sister says, we have bodies that want to be round. Hopefully mental grit will take over if the roundish body fails.

I am deeply excited for the adventure. Except for the cold – I’m not excited for the cold. It’s part of the experience, just not the enjoyable part. A week and a half to go and counting. I will keep you posted.