We flew into Kathmandu yesterday from Kunming, China. It was a trip of a little over three hours and uneventful to me. I had an aisle seat and only later heard about the views of Everest and Lhotse I missed from Lonnie who had nabbed an open window seat further back in the plane. Overall, it was cloudy and the descent into Kat hazy. I’m old enough to remember when smog was a new addition to our vocabulary but it could have well have been invented here. The city is located deep into a valley thus trapping all the sins of the city in its bowels. As Lonnie and I were working our way through immigration and security at the airport, purchasing our visas and picking up our bags, we both remarked on the startling differences between Kunming and our new environs. Though the processes to complete were essentially the same, we now had friendly faces and obliging officials to guide us along the way. We had gone through full checkpoint security three times in Kunming airport just trying to leave China – you’d think they would be happy to get rid of us. 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, Elias is a well-known professional mountain guide. He met his Minnesota born wife Bridget in Colorado. Near Elias’ age, she is also a climber and extremely well conditioned. Bridget spends her summers climbing with him and winters in an office in Ashford, Washington. They live in the Cascades.
We loaded our gear into a van and hopped in with Elias for a culturally enlightening 20 minute ride to our new quarters at Nima’s place. The traffic was chaotic and mind-boggling. Although there was a line in the middle of the street; cars, buses, trucks, motorcycles and pedestrians darted freely across it with horns announcing all turns. Crazy motorcyclists somehow weaved between the mess without incident during my short view. Anyone trying to navigate through this maze had better have good peripheral vision. Great reactions are also a must. To our surprise, Elias informed us that the traffic today was light. The sides of the road were lined with busses and trucks since there is now a fuel shortage in Kat. Nepal is in the midst of an argument with India apparently over Nepal’s new constitution. All of Kathmandu’s gas and diesel comes through India’s borders and these tankers are being held up in India. A ration of 5 liters a day has been instituted within the city.
We turned down a narrow alleyway and parked outside an attractive four story mortar building. Nima and his wife Sue-coo live here along with their eldest son, Kason. I’m sure my spelling of their names will improve with experience. Nima moved to the city after establishing a successful business in the mountains as a go-to guy for climbers and guiding companies. Very well connected, Nima can supply anything needed including rides, porters, guides and all supplies. He just makes a few phone calls and things happen. Sue-coo keeps all guests well-fed and happy. Nima is having some health issues right now and Kason has stepped into his shoes for our stay here.
Tomorrow we will fly into Lukla and begin our trek. Today we will be busy with last minute preparations assisted by our hosts.
I writing this at 1:30 am. Both Lonnie and I are awake and up since we can’t sleep due to our jet lag.