4/17/2008

Kathmandu
10 days later…

We are comfortably back in the Yak & Yeti, but this is our account on the mountain…

We boarded our propeller plane with our luggage tags that read “I Was Never Meant To Fly Coach!” that were given to us by a close friend before we left. We zipped down the runway, shared by monkeys and airplanes, and had a successful take-off. The pilot and co-pilot did not high five each other as they did last year when our Dad took the same flight! The flight was quite enjoyable. We flew low enough to get a great view of the beautiful mountain ranges. What we had feared most about this flight was the uphill landing on an airstrip 1/2 the size of Pacific Coast Highway! We arrived safely and we began our first trek, which we were told was an ‘easy trek,” to Phakding! In comparison to the rest of our trip, it was not as gruelsome. However, it was a complete shock to our systems! The path was a mixture of equal parts; rock and yak dung! It rained on us the entire trek! It was so thrilling to actually be on the mountain and see the people, the animals, and the amazing scenery first hand! We snapped photos the entire way. We especially loved crossing the suspension bridges and seeing the waterfalls and raging river, also known as “The Milk River” for its white/teal color. When we were shown to our rooms in Phakding we were soaking wet and freezing. Before entering, we took off our shoes and would not let anyone enter with their shoes on. If we had to, we would crawl through the door on our knees, with our feet and hands in the air! We immediately changed into dry clothes and jumped into our sleeping bags and never wanted to come out. Dad told us to be sure to put all of our electronics in our sleeping bags ( IPODS, cameras, cell phones, sat phones) so that they wouldn’t get ruined from the freezing cold weather. That is when all of the door knocking began! We looked at each other like, “Who’s going to get it?” So we took turns hopping to the door in our sleeping bags, hoping we weren’t crushing our electronics on the way! We finally relented and came out to the dining room. for soup and tea. That would be our first of 10,000 cups of tea on this journey. The rest of the team must have thought we were crazy. We followed a strict hygiene regimen of cleaning our hands with baby wipes followed by Purell hand sanitizer. Little did we know today was an “easy” day and we slept well in our sleeping bags!

Our climb from Phakding to Namche Bazaar kicked our butts! We had flashbacks of the Mt. Whitney switchbacks! It was best to just not look up. The elevation gain was 3,000 feet! The scenery along the way was stunning. It almost looked fake. Namche Bazaar is a busy, cute and colorful village located on a steep hill. We planned for a rest day there and enjoyed shopping, eating and using the internet at the cyber cafe’. Whenever we pulled out a wad of cash to pay for something, we had to study each bill to make sure we paid the correct amount. The shop owners stared at us like, “Dumb Americans!” So we started calling each other “Dumb American!” Little did we know our stay in Namche would be longer than expected. We knew our Dad was ill when he only ate 2 small pieces of pizza and said he was full. As we mentioned in an earlier report, he got the help he needed, and while he laid in bed we officially became locals! Up and down the village we ventured for 2 1/2 days becoming more familiar with the locals and them with us. They would call us out by our first names as we walked by their “shops.” We took tons of pictures and handed out candies (Jolly Ranchers) to the kids and even made friends with 2 cows! Or were they caks (1/2 cow, 1/2 yak)??? We even hand fed them Jolly Ranchers! You could tell they loved it by their slobber and drool. Our Dad looked a little better the next day so we decided to move on to Tengboche. The hike was great for us. We had a lot of energy, listened to our music and we had our first view of the great Mt. Everest!!! That was AWESOME! What a thrill it was to finally see our goal, the tallest mountain in the world! Puchhanga took photos of the 3 of us. WE finally got to see in person Dad’s dream! When we arrived in Tengboche, they showed us to the “best” lodge in the village, which was only one out of two! It was more than DISGUSTING! We stayed in a green glowing tube! To enter, you walk down about 3 steps and through a doorway similar to Alice in Wonderland. It stunk so bad! We couldn’t wait to go to sleep, wake up and LEAVE! This trip was beginning to resemble an episode of “The Simple Life.”

Even though our Dad wasn’t completely himself yet, we pushed on to Pheriche, knowing that there was a good medical clinic where we could have him checked out. The accommodations were better than the tube. Anything is better than the tube. We took scalding hot showers. You had to let the staff know 45 minutes in advance so they could boil the water. The water came out of a tiny spout the size of a dime. To release the flow of water, you pull out the extra large toothpick, and when you are finished you put it back in. Amy got the first shower only to get scalded by the extra boiling hot water, and you could hear her saying, “Ouch, Ouch, Shoot, Oww!!!” The dining room facility was very nice. There were many people from all over the world relaxing, reading books, meeting one another and all of the tables were lit by candle light. When it got dark, everyone used their head lamps to read. Dad fell asleep in the dining room and appeared more and more sick. We thought we would sleep in the next morning then visit the doctor. Surprisingly, we all awoke extra early. When Dad emerged from his room, he said he was going to the clinic, which was unlike him. He knew he was very bad, so the 3 of us rushed over together. The clinic is open 24 hours for emergencies. We banged on the door and woke up the doctor. The doctor checked his oxygen Sat. level and his lungs. His oxygen Sat. level was at 40 and his lungs were full of fluid. He diagnosed him with pulmonary edema. He immediately hooked him up to oxygen which brought his oxygen level up to 70. He gave us our options, but highly recommended we get him on a rescue chopper down to Kathmandu. We were so sad to see our Dad in this condition. In order to get down to Kathmandu to be with him we would have to start our trek right away. So there we go with our sherpas down the mountain listening for the chopper on its way to pick up our Dad. We were so excited when we saw it fly by and it seemed only a few minutes later it was on its way down with our Dad. We waved like crazy from the side of the mountain, while Puchhanga took photos.

We took only two days to get down the mountain…we were on a mission to meet up with Dad. Our first day we trekked to Namche Bazaar (where we are now locals!) We were so tired and our legs and knees were so sore. One enjoyable memory on this first day was finding a girlfriend for our Puchhanga! We asked him on one of our breaks if he had a girlfriend at home and he said ” No, I’m still praying.” The young female server was cute so we asked him about her and told him we thought she was cute. He said, ” I know.” We told him to ask her out and he said, ” She’s too far.” We asked her if she ever goes to Kathmandu to which she replies to Puchhanga, ” No work.” He told her in Nepalese that he could get her a job. They exchanged phone numbers and had their picture taken together by both our camera and his camera! We wiped our hands like job well done, and continued our trek!

The next morning it was the same old thing, back down the mountain…another long day to get to Lukla where we can fly out to Kathmandu. We went slow because we were so tired. Puchhanga wanted to have his eyes on both of us so he put Lori in the lead position and Amy 2nd. Lori used her trekking poles to navigate every step, while Amy followed behind like the scarecrow in “The Wizard of Oz!” It was like she had no bones in her body and Puchhanga was there to catch her fall! It began rain, then hail, then got dark… “Lions and Tigers and Bears Oh My!” Before resorting to digging through our backpacks for our headlamps, Lori was now using her trekking poles a guiding stick for the visually impaired on the side of a very steep mountain. At best she was rearranging the Yak poop on the trail! We finally made it and when we arrived our sweet porters were waiting for us with BIG smiles as usual with our heavy bags. They showed us to our room which involved going down through a dungeon first. We got the first flight out of Lukla in the morning…6:30 AM. The take off involved shooting down the steep runway and taking off over the side of a cliff. We didn’t care at that point…just get us to Kathmandu!

When we arrived back to the hotel we immediately wanted to see our Dad. We went to his room and knocked, but no answer. We began to worry and imagine the worst, so we started kicking on his door. Finally we saw a housekeeper and asked her to let us in “our room.” He wasn’t there. We found him in the hotel business center on the computer and looked like himself again! What a relief. Now we just had to make sure he didn’t have any crazy ideas of going back up. Although he was considering it, the doctor in Kathmandu strongly recommended that he not. So we will all be coming home together!

Before we come home, we promised the kids at the orphanage that we would be back. That will be in our next report…

Amy and Lori