We flew into Kathmandu yesterday from Kunming, China. It was trip of over 3 hours and uneventful to me. I had an aisle seat and only later heard about the views of Everest and Lhotse from Lonnie who had nabbed a window further back in the plane. It was cloudy and the descent into Kathmandu very hazy. I’m old enough to remember when the term smog was a new addition to our vocabulary but it could well have been invented here. The city is located deep in a valley thus trapping all of the sins of the city in its bowels. As Lonnie and I were working our way through immigration and security in the airport, purchasing our visas and picking up our bags, we remarked on the startling differences between Kunming and our new environs. Though the processes to complete were essentially the same, we now were greeted with friendly faces and obliging officials to guide us along. We had gone through three full security checkpoints just trying to get to the to our gate in Kunming. We were just trying to leave China, not get in. Entering Nepal was an inviting breeze compared to that chill.
Elias met us outside of the airport. He is a tall, remarkably fit man in his mid- thirties. Originally from Spain, he is a well-known guide and supervisor for Ranier Mountain Inc. He met his Minnesota born wife, Bridget, in Spain while she was vacationing there. Near Elias’ age, she climbs with him in summers and has a office job in Ashford, Washington in the winter. They live nearby in the Cascades.
We loaded our gear into the back of a van and hopped in front with Elias for a culturally enlightening 20 minute ride to Nima Sherpa’s place in the Boudha section of town. While more Hindus reside in the city, we were amoung Buddhists here. The traffic was chaotic and mind-boggling. Although there was at times a center line, it was mostly ignored. Cars, taxis, trucks. motorcycles, bikes and pedestrians all darted freely back and forth with horns announcing every move. Anyone traveling through that maze had better have extremely good peripheral vision. Better reaction time than mine is a must. Elias informed us that traffic was light today. The sides of the roads were lined with trucks, buses and taxis all their small daily quota of fuel. Nepal is in the midst of a political argument with India, apparently over Nepal’s new constitution. All of Kathmandu’s fuel comes by truck across India’s border and are being held up on India. This ration was said to be 5 liters per day.
We turned down a narrow alleyway and parked next to an attractive four story mortared building. Nima and his wife Suku live here along with their eldest son, Kelsang. Nima moved to the city after establishing s very successful business in the mountains as a go-to guy for climbers and guiding services. Very well connected. He just makes a few phone calls and things happen. Suku keeps all guests well-fed and happy.
Tomorrow we will fly into Lukla to began our trek and climbing effort.
I’m writing this at 1:30 am as both Lonnie and I have serious jet lag.
It’s now the 9th October and my computer was jammed while on China, Internet has been very difficult and I have a bad cold. We are in Phakding and headed for Namche Bazaar today. Incredible scenery. Sent from my iP