Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Everest Base Camp Trek - Journal (Part 2)

For our EBC Trek cost-cutting tips, go here.
For part 1 of this EBC Trek journal, go here. It covers days 1 to 3, from Lukla to Namche Bazaar.
For part 3 of this journal, go here. It covers days 7 to 9, from Dingboche to Lobuche to Gorak Shep to Everest Base Camp.
For part 4 of this journal, go here. It covers day 10 to 13, from Gorak Shep to Everest and back down to Lukla.

Day 4 : Lost to Rain and Snow

We woke up to very bad weather. It was a mix of rain and snow. Our outlook on the remaining 9 days of trekking grew bleak. If the weather remained like this, it was going to be a cold, wet, miserable journey. We depended on the sun to warm our days and more importantly our spirits. When the sun was out, anything was possible and no challenge seemed too great.Because of our apprehension, we decided to go buy a local-made wool jacket in town for Squid, and we got scammed because we didn’t follow our rule. Never accept the first price offered. But we were in a hurry, so I caved. At least the snow and rain stopped soon after. It was too late to embark on the hike to Tengboche, but we had new hope for the morrow.  Yes, "the morrow". I’ve been to Everest (or a camp reasonably close to Everest, no need to squabble), so I’m qualified to talk like an arse. Please keep that in mind.

Setting off from Namche.

Day 5 : Hallelujah

It was a gloriously not rainy day, and it turned out perfectly.    

We bumped into Iva again, and we even had lunch with Mark, whom we met in Ghorakpur and took the bus to Kathmandu with, and his friend Catalina. The landscapes were amazing. I was particularly awed by the trees with ghostly green cobweb-like vines.

I was a kid again, remembering running in the Pyrennées with my brother, my parents far behind. Once more I was made to appreciate my privileged childhood. Every turn brought a new reason to marvel. Arriving in Tengboche, we were treated to not only a beautiful monastery between sun and fog, but the Mani Rumdi Dances Festival. Whether at a wedding, or a special event like this, I highly value moments where I can be surrounded by unguarded joy and share in it. Here locals, old and young, monks and foreigners, all gathered within the monastery's courtyard to watch and laugh genuinely at two masked jesters who sang, danced and used props to amuse the crowd. Two of those props were "poor" foreigners « "invited" to participate in the jesters’ plays. They danced, they drank beer and stranger brews, they dressed up. The locals loved the foreigners’ confused but obviously unrehearsed and unpredictable behaviour.

After an hour or two, I went back to the lodge to warm myself, but Squid stayed out. She saw slapstick turn into a symbolic confrontation between good and evil, with the monks bestowing a sword (buddhism) to the jester turned hero, empowering him to slay the beasts of ignorance and desire. At the end of the show, people threw down money but also beautiful silk. This allowed Squid to finally understand the origin of a Chinese proverb which says: 博得滿堂彩 (“I got the entire room's clothes”) and means that a performance was a great success.
So no rain, not one but two fortuitous meetings, harsh landscapes, eeries landscapes, charmed landscapes, comedy and drama, happy locals, it was just a perfect day. 

Day 6 - Winter Is Coming

We woke up to blue skies in one window, and clouds in the other. As we descended into the valley, the clouds took over temporarily. A snowfall during the night had put a menacing mask on the terrain. 

The ghost trees had lost their magic glow, the mountains looked fiercer, and the cold was threatening. Luckily, good weather was sticking with us. As the sun peeked over the mountains the sombre scene was transformed into a winter wonderland. I even found myself humming the tune unwittingly.

Near Pangboche, the valley opened up onto a plateau patched with farms. We began to leave the winter behind us, the country here was free of snow. After that the trail wound uncertainly through brushland. We had come too high for trees. Navigating around the remaining fire bushes and some boulders, we chose our own path as the trail branched off or disappeared over the flat ground. Finally, rounding a hill, there was Dingboche, ready to feed us.    

Eat, walk, eat, sleep, repeat. Don’t rinse because it’s too bloody cold. We hadn’t had a shower in six days, and we didn’t plan on having one either. We didn’t want to pay for one, we didn’t want to suffer through one because it was damn cold, and we didn’t smell that bad yet. We weren’t making the paint peel off the walls at least. We had wetwipes, soap and dry wash; that was enough for us.

Near Namche.

Our guide Ngima entering the hotel in Tengboche.


The common area in our hotel in Tengboche, with the precious lifegiving stove on the right.

No comments:

Post a Comment