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Nepal Chapter 7

Namche to Lukla to Kathmandu to Pokhara


Holding patterns

After convalescing at my teahouse in Namche, I was finally feeling well enough to hit the trail again.



From Namche I continued south toward Lukla, where I'd catch a flight from the notorious Tenzing-Hillary Airport back to Kathmandu.



I stayed a night in Phakding and stopped the following day, midday, to enjoy a pot of ginger tea and savor the remote Himilayan views one last time.



There I met Tomme and Nate, from Minneapolis. Tomme travels to Nepal a couple times a year to volunteer as a dental hygienist with a philanthropic organization.



They are a really lovely couple! Tomme and I bonded and the three of us ended up hiking the rest of the day to Lukla together with their porter.


We ate dinner and bid adieu as they had an earlier flight the next morning.


In the morning, weather in Ramecchap delayed flights which created a contagion of passenger backlog—including me.


There was a rambunctious group of Ama Dablam climbers also staying at my teahouse; also impacted by the delays.


At 9:00am, we had all ordered a round of beer, cranked up some Nepalese dance music and were dancing our stress away.


It was hilarious!


Unbeknownst to me, their main sherpa guide was one of the stars of a recent Netflix documentary called 14 Peaks: Nothing is Impossible.


He and I were on the same flight and even though I didn't really know who he was, I sheepishly asked for a picture, thinking I might end up regretting a missed opportunity, later.



The flight was delayed about three hours, but eventually we boarded.


I motioned the sign of the cross, ignored the duct tape holding things together inside the plane and promised myself if I made it home, I'd all but join the nunnery.

It was a nerve-racking flight in an old, tiny prop plane that gyrated up and down and drifted side to side as we flew through the mountains.


Kathmandu

Safe on the ground in Kathmandu, I took a taxi across town to my hotel in the Thamel neighborhood.


My room was on the third floor of a seven story concrete and rebar building—the most common type of construction in the city.


My room had no outside-facing window, but it did have a bluish fluorescent light that softly buzzed and randomly flickered.


Its only redeeming factor was a private bathroom and shower!


Immediately after dropping my backpack off, I went around the corner to buy shampoo and soap.


Oh shit

There was a bin of assorted bar soap. Naturally, I started sniffing them to decide which one to take.


They didn't smell like anything. Or perhaps there was something wrong with my nose!? I frantically started opening bottles of shampoo and grabbing at boxes of incense.


Nothing.


Oh my God.


I couldn't smell a thing.


In that instant I knew my illness earlier that week was covid.


I don't know why I didn't consider it before. Not that there's much I could have done besides holing up in my room like I did, but still.


I managed to evade it for nearly three years and I ended up getting it while traveling abroad. I had a lot of mixed emotions. Should I have done things differently? Did I inadvertently infect other people? Was there something I should be doing now?


I bought some soap and shampoo and bee-lined back to my room where you bet your britches I took the longest, hottest shower of my life.


I scrubbed every inch, scraping off three weeks of sweat and dirt and grime, and shampooing my hair at least three times over.


I felt like a new woman.


But despite being squeaky clean, that night I couldn't sleep.


The air was so heavy with smog and traffic outside was insane with incessant honking.


Between feeling claustrophobic in my matchbox room, the city noises and the rubble-filled images of post-earthquake Kathmandu flashing through my head, I couldn't relax.


I just kept thinking that if there was an earthquake that night, I'd be a goner. I'd seen the fragility of buildings across the country and felt excruciatingly vulnerable in the middle level of the big hotel.


I also couldn't get past the insane (insanely dangerous!?) power rigging across the city...



I knew I couldn't spend a whole week there. I consulted my friend Sophie, who's lived in Nepal for a few years while in the Peace Corps. She suggested I go to the nearby town of Pokhara; a lovely resort area nestled on the edge of picturesque Lake Fewa.


I ran some numbers and contemplated the benefits, but it was no contest; I was going to Pokhara!


So the next morning I headed back to the airport and hopped the short twenty five minutes from Kathmandu to Pokhara.


A familiar face in Pokhara

Wow what a difference!


Sophie put together a whole Google doc for me, including recommendations for a hotel, restaurants, things to do etc.



Literally upon landing, I exhaled and felt my body and mind relax.


Mike, who I met on my first day when we shared a helicopter ride, had finished his Ama Dablam summit trip and also had a week to kill before going home to Australia.


I somehow convinced him to leave Kathmandu and join me in Pokhara! So the next morning he arrived and it's been fun having someone to explore and be a lazy tourist with.


However, it's been so strange navigating this place sans the intense aromas of street vendor BBQ, brewing coffee and smoldering incense... or taste the explosive flavors of curry and pan-fried momos.


One night we went bar hopping along the southeastern shoreline. We ordered colorful drinks and random food from the menus.


It all might as well have been the same thing. Or it might as well have just been paper. I couldn't taste anything. It was so sad.


We were sitting al fresco at one place when this pinto horse just randomly walked by.


We saw it wandering a different part of town the next day so I took a pic:



Post covid, I have this intense exhaustion. Literally, Mike and I meet for breakfast in the mornings, go for a little walk and then I have to retreat back to my room for a two hour nap.


I'm not a napper. But I literally can't stay awake all day. I'm really hoping I get my smell and taste back soon—and my energy!


Mike flies home tomorrow morning, so afterward I'm going to treat myself to a manicure and pedicure before I fly back to Kathmandu where I'll be a day or so before flying home, myself.


More than ever, I am so excited and eager to go home! I miss my friends, have a new bike to finish building, a thriving business to get back to, holidays to look forward to, and my beloved mountains.


To quote my Becca, "My heart is full!"


Wanted to get an update out; I'll come back and fill it out more later :)


A mini update





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