35 days of walking in Nepal

First off. I’m pissed. I just got back to Kathmandu a few hours ago. Happy, relieved and grateful for the past three weeks of walking. I’m at my hotel, picking up my stuff that was sitting in storage. “Where’s my tent?” – “Your tent? It’s missing?” – “Yes.” – They watch me search for a long time for it. – “Oh, was it black with one pole?” – “Yes.” – “A tourist took it. Don’t worry. I’ll call him and it will be back in few days.” – “What?! You let a tourist take it? How do you know it has one pole? How do you know what color it is? It was in a stuff sack.” Obviously, they are lying and something is fishy. But really, all that I care about is that I GET MY TENT BACK. The dude looked kind of worried when I totally poked holes in all of his lame theories that it was a mix up. And he made some major slips. Like letting it be known that he was present when the tent was set up in the yard. That he was present when a “tourist” “borrowed” it. And letting it be known that he could (and did) call said tourist on his personal cell phone to get it back. He definitely got concerned when I pointed out that it was a “special” tent that couldn’t be bought in stores, that it costs $250 and that the police would be called if it didn’t come back. The guys of the hotel are nice dudes (I’ve stayed there for about five nights so far), and this pisses me off. I don’t know exactly what happened, but I’m 30% hopeful that I’ll get my tent back and 0% hopeful that I’ll get money for it if it’s not returned. ARGH.

ANYWAYS………. Again, hiking has been excellent. I did a mishmash of treks. Flew to the tourist hub of Lukla, hiked to the Everest region. Got really sick (vomiting, dehydration, diarreah). Got snowed on. Went around the first pass due to snow and weakness. Hiked to Everest Base Camp and up the Kala Patar view point. Hiked off the Everest superhighway over Cho La Pass. Hiked up the Gokyo Valley, across the glacier, up to the many lakes, Cho Oyu Base Camp, and Gokyo Ri view point. Hiked over Renjo Pass and got further off the superhighway. Back to Lukla. Then from Lukla to Tumlingtar, fully off the beaten track.

Nepal tea house trekking can be quite nice. It’s nice to dodge out of storms in to hotels. It’s nice to sit around fireplaces and socialize with other trekkers. It’s nice to have a bed and someone else cooking. And it sucks to be in the bubble of tourism. I spent most of my time in Nepal in the bubble and had little nepali food and even less contact with normal nepalis. It’s trekking, not traveling. But from Lukla to Tumlingtar, it’s been a perfect mix of the two. Only one hotel that we stayed at had had another tourist within the last three weeks. The villages are really inhabited! Locals going on about their lives! Even at a guesthouse you have to get them to open up operations. And there is no pasta to eat, no snickers to buy, just Dal Bhat all the time. One night we were even invited over for a homestay. Slept outside on a box bed on the second story overlooking their fields. Everything but the sugar and spice was grown on their land. Even the flour for the morning pancakes was made on the spot. Talk about fresh and local. I was invited in to numerous other houses as well. Simply by virtue of being a tourist. And the fact that it rained lightly almost the whole week so people were gracious to take me out of the rain. It was the “middle hills” region and we lost and gained a ton of altitude. Up a valley side, down a valley side. You can look across the valley at the next tiny village. It looks not far, but might take four hours to get there.

The Everest portion of the trek was quite different. High altitudes made me sick from the dry air. The walking was sometimes laborious. The views when the clouds parted were epic. It’s obvious and yet doesn’t strike you until you experience it. The mountains are huge. And there is a higher density of big mountains than in the Annapurna region, so it was more dramatic. And it was nice to have the snowstorms. A dusting of snow on everything made it all the more beautiful.

I should write more. But I just got off the plane from the boonies and don’t feel like it. Next up… getting an India Visa (which may take over a week) and trying not to get pissed about my tent and the touts selling me flutes, rugs and drugs.

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