I’ve spent the last two days here in Lukla and will do so again tomorrow. I’m scheduled to fly out to Kathmandu on the 31st. It didn’t take long to take in the town, fill in all the blanks and find myself looking inward for adventure. I started on the latest Louise Penny novel, The Nature of the Beast, which I had loaded onto the computer from iBooks before I left home. Louise now lives in Quebec (I believe) but had once resided in Thunder Bay where my friends, Nikki Burns and Bob Symons had become acquainted with her. Since that time she has had a whole series of best selling novels based around her main character Inspector Gamache and a small Canadian village just north of Vermont called Three Pines. The problem of having your book on the computer here is that there are almost never any electric plug-ins in your room or even in the main rooms in the Lodges where you can keep plugged in. Of course, the computer battery life doesn’t get you all that far into the meat of the novel. It’s been raining since yesterday afternoon, cancelling flights and just cold enough to make hiking in the wet pretty uncomfortable.
Fortunately I have been entertained by four fellow travelers who are waiting for the same thing I am – a flight out. Two of them are retired British Special Forces personnel, another a professional photographer and the other a young woman who has been teaching English in a Gompa (monastery) just off the route up to Everest Base Camp. The photographer and the younger former soldier both live in Saudi Arabia – whatever they are doing there has not been explained to me, the other retired soldier has now made his home on the South Island of New Zealand and spends quite a bit of the year traveling. The younger ex-soldier loves his beer, has a very outgoing personality and now has the distinction of coming down from just below Everest Base Camp on the back of a horse (maybe mule?) He had come down with a bad respiratory infection and just couldn’t do the trek – their guide had suggested finding such an animal to get him down and $150 later here he is. The horse trip provided much of the humor early on in the conversations and then we found no lack of other topics to keep things lively. They were all scheduled for flights today and now had to retrieve their bags for tonight and hope that we will awaken to clearer skies.
Before the bad weather had set in, I had taken a couple of trips to what I believe is referred to as a Gonda above town. The prayer flags identified the small building as having religious significance and I walked around it a few times before I could see the golden Buddha behind the glass facing down onto Lukla. The glass front of the building was on the steep side and it was difficult to see the Buddha statue until I resorted to my tip-toes and even then the glare made it difficult to get a great view. He was obviously not there for with the intention of being a model for my iPhone camera. I did get some photos looking through the tangle of prayer flags and one of the glass distorted view of this golden icon. This Gonda is out of the way and doesn’t appear to be frequently visited.
I also just met a good friend of Elias – a fellow guide from Washington state whose guiding trip to Cho Oyu was cancelled when the Chinese pulled all the climbing permits for some political reason. His name is Mike and he guides mountains in many corners of the world. There are a lot of people stacked up in this little town tonight due to the weather and lack of flights.
I just got emails from both Lonnie and Pascale. Elias, Bridget, Lon, Pascale and Furba have gotten back to Namche Bazaar and will spend some time eating and sleeping after the climb of Kyajo Ri. It’s snowing there now.
My sleep may be late coming tonight with a group of Japanese dancing downstairs to what must be Japanese pop music!