Hillary School

IMG_2662IMG_2664IMG_2657IMG_2652IMG_2654October 22

On another bright blue morning here in Namche Bazaar, I decided to take a hike up to Khumjung and Khunde to take a closer look at the two villages directly above. I had learned to time my arrival for breakfast at about 8:15 when the sun would reach the little outside terrace at the Thawa Lodge where we have been staying. The sun has a wonderful effect at these altitudes – especially after the cold nights. The lodges here are not heated so who wants to have their brekkie with their long johns and coat still on. A cheese omelette and bowl of porridge under my belt plus some steaming hot ginger tea and off I trekked. The others had all opted to stay and rest plus catch up on their correspondence.

The trail is narrow and almost directly uphill. They must not have invented switchbacks when these trails had been forged. You must just take your time as it’s a long way up. Once cresting the hill, you go left around the Stupa and start down the stone steps towards Khumjung. It is a Buddhist tradition of respect to always go around these symbols in a clockwise fashion. A walk through a small welcoming covered bridge-like structure complete with prayer wheels brings you to the longest mani stone lined path in all of Nepal. A mani stone is usually a large flat rock (but can be very large and not flat at all) on which is carved a Buddhist prayer. These carved symbols cover the whole side of the stone. Here there is a large base of rock, covered and topped by very old algae covered mani stones which line the whole avenue running alongside the Hillary school.

The school itself is home to quite a few buildings built in the same stone and timber manner as buildings in the entire countryside of Nepal. Children are playing a game similar to volleyball except that their feet can also be used to get
the ball over the net. There is nothing ostentatious about the facilities here but rather the emphasis on functionality. At the end of the mani stone lined walkway you come to another white topped stupa, this one showing some earthquake caused cracking and crumbling.

I stopped to sit and talk with a Nepali man just beyond the Stupa and learned from him the extent of the earthquake damage here. Many buildings reduced to rubble and others damaged, he proudly told me that almost all had been repaired or rebuilt now, including his home. I watched workers still busy shaping rock, cutting re-rod, wheeling sand and installing timbers on a teahouse next door to the lodge in which I was enjoying lunch. All this work done without the aid of machinery other than shovels, chisels, sledgehammers, wheelbarrows and the like.

After a pleasant visit in the sun here in Khumjung, I decided to forgo the additional walk to Khunde. My iPhone, which now doubles as my camera, has a very low battery.

Down the mountainside I go again.

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