It has now been 6 months since my return. My writing has been coming in drips and drabs. I’m sorry to have abandoned you for so long but sadly ‘normal life’, work and exams have got in the way. Thankfully, a little Nepal reunion awakened my senses and brought those memories back (it does also provide a little exam distraction, but what is life without a little distraction now and then?).
Let me go back, right the way back to Wednesday 10th April 1140am:
‘We (Roomie and I) are sitting in the most beautiful garden park in Thamel. The sun is out but we have a perfect shaded area. The birds are cawing and chirping, there is a gentle rustle of the trees, a faint hoot of traffic behind me and a water feature in front of me. It’s bliss. We are meeting the gang here at 2pm. A few hours of chill and bliss until then, time to write and time to think…’
With the party over, it was another early start for the flight back to Kathmandu. Somewhat more deflated than the first one to Lukla all those days ago, we packed up for the final time and said our goodbyes to the wonderful porters and sherpas. For me, Pemba will always be close to my heart. His steady pace (Pemba the Pacemaker), his Nepali charm, his music and story telling, a man who had travelled and had lived in Austria, a man who knew every Bollywood song since the 1950s, a man of few words when you first meet him and who blossomed under the infective trill of a tune. I really hope our paths will meet again.
Milan-such a young boy in such a high position. Like all guides, he started as a porter and worked his way up. At 22 he was already married with talk of family. Such responsibility, so different from our otherwise ‘privileged’ lives.
Ram-at only 40 he looked almost double. I say this not to be harsh but to highlight just how difficult the porter life can be. It was interesting, when GP lady and I had to descend we had the chance to chat to Kamal Thama (another porter) who told us that they all race to get to each destination first, it’s like a game for them! My favourite story with Ram was that every time he went home to see his wife she fell pregnant! Poor guy!
Kamal Thama-deserves a paragraph for himself. I’ve mentioned him already, but it would not be wasteful to mention him again. When GP lady and I fell ill, it was Kamal Thama and not us who carried our heavy bags back down the 900m we had just ascended. And he did so without even a hint of complaint. Thank you.
Nima-Our other guide, quieter, younger, a little more inexperienced but give the boy a beer and he goes wild playing foozball! Great bonding and banter with the boys at Namche (although I don’t think my down jacket appreciated the beer spillage!)
The rest of Kathmandu was relaxed and actually very much needed before the onward leg (or for many others, the return). I did buy myself some traditional Nepali clothes in the end, thank goodness for a hot shower and mmm what yummy food at A+P’s anniversary dinner at OR2K (tip-don’t wear white, everything goes neon!).
”Someone asked me whether I’d trek again and to be honest my first impression was, ‘Not any time soon. Ask me once I’ve recovered’. Now that I’ve had a few days of chill in Kathmandu I think the answer is definitely. I’d love to do the Annapurna Circuit because it’s supposed to be beautiful. I’d love to do Machu Pichu and also the Great Wall of China. A big part of me feels like I should avoid altitude for a while but then I wonder if I had just ignored GP lady and continued on Paracetamol and Ibuprofen maybe it would have been better? Then I remember my sats were 66% despite all that and figure, ‘Ok, so perhaps the altitude sickness was real!’ Then I remember what the lady in the Rescue clinic said about sats machines being inaccurate and wonder about E’s comment of ‘You were still able to argue’ and my own comment of ‘As soon as they said I could go down I felt better’…so maybe it wasn’t real? Maybe it was all just fabricated. A thing in my mind.”