Well hello there!
So far, I’ve made it to Manang at 3540 metres. I’ve been taking it slow and having quite a few rest days along the way. I began showing signs of mild altitude sickness at 3000 metres but was able to get to a medical centre and was given medication which worked like a magic!
Today I head into high altitude. But my biggest concern is the cold. Each morning i wake up to frozen toothpaste and a frozen bottle of drinking water. Yesterday, I had to get up in the night to use the outside toilet. It’s a traditional hole-in-the-ground squat toilet, with a tap and a bucket that you’re supposed to use to wash away your ‘doings’. When I went in, the tap was running at full blast and had created a flood across the whole floor and into the hole at the centre. I wondered why on earth someone would leave it running like that so i turned it off and tried to tiptoe through the water to pee in the hole. It was an impossible feat, and I ended up with soaking wet socks which I then had to sleep in. Eurgh! It was most uncomfortable.
But the next morning I went to use the loo again. This time i was greeted with a sheet of Ice covering the entirety of the floor. It was a bit of an “ah ha” moment. If I thought peeing in a flood was hard, I couldn’t have imagined the ordeal of balancing on a block of Ice whilst trying to do my business. Let’s just say I’m glad the contents of that hole had frozen too. Otherwise I would have had a very messy foot.
At night, the guesthouses light log burner for everyone to huddle around. But even then I still cant get warm despite wearing every single item of clothing I own. This includes 2 hats, 2 sets of gloves, thermal leggings and multiple layers on top. The last few days I’ve been listening to the audio book of Everest 1953. Apparently on the morning of the final ascent to the summit, Ed Hillary was delayed because his boots had frozen solid in the night. He spent an hour thawing them out over a flame from his camp stove. It’s the kind of thing that seems unimaginable when you listen to it from the comfort of a warm home. But I can honestly say that story feels very real to me right now!
These communal woodburner gatherings have lead me to meet some really interesting people along the way and I’ve been awed and inspired by some of their stories and thoughts on life. This seems to be a good place to meet fascinating characters. But It’s also a place to meet very bored locals with terrible flirting skills. I was asked to a private party by two young men yesterday. The conversation began with them telling me they love British girls. I asked what it was about British girls they liked so much. They looked me up and down, threw their hands out expressively and said “the way they look!”
It must be said, I had just finished a hike and was covered head to toe in dust. I hadn’t showered or washed my hair in over a week. I had a red peeling nose and patches of dry skin all over my cheeks. I was wearing hiking leggings but with a very unflattering pair of knee supports which make my shins and thighs bulge out bulbously, much like the Michelin tyre man. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for their desperation so i asked for more information about this party. I was given a quick demo as they put on some tinny music via their mobile phones and began performing some enthusiastic and very serious Bollywood dancing for me. I was then assured that there would be plenty of juice at this party.
“No Alcohol?” I enquired.
No, this was strictly a juice party.
I politely declined. Although there was a big part of me that wanted to go just to see some more of their dancing.
The most wonderful people I’ve met are two adventurous and independant New Zealand ladies. I happened to meet them when I first got sick with the altitude and they took me to the doctor. I shall be joining them in the next couple of days and we shall cross the high pass together. If all goes well, we shall do that in four days time. Wish us luck!