Saturday, April 5, 2008

THE TREK (+Cutie McCuters part 2 and our future plans)

oh! it has been far too long since an update. so sorry about that, there have been mountains, heavy backpacks, swedish friends, and children in between...but don't worry, I'll give you the scoop.

Again we find ourselves in Pokhara, beautiful town of mountains, a lake, and the most delicious daal bhat we have ever eaten (the Almond Cafe is spectaular. and amazingly cheap). "What britta? aren't you still supposed to be trekking to the gloriousness of mt. everest?" you ask. Well, yes. We were intending to spend 25 days in the wilderness (which was not nearly as "wildernessy" as you might think, we had a padded bed in a lodge every night), but after 14 days we called it quits. Actually, I called it quits and dragged Becca with me. I know it was the last thing in the world she wanted to do, but at near 12,000 ft., my body seemed to be rejecting the prospect of continuing up the big mountain, and she (amazing friend that she is) came down with me.

But back to the beginning of the story~ the trek was FABULOUS. By far the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen in my life. We hiked in from Jiri, which hardly anyone does anymore as it is 10 days from the tourist hub of the Everest trek (Namche Bazaar). Everyone usually flies into Lukla, a mere day from Namche. We, however, were going to experience the FULL Everest valley and subvalley and subsubvallies....thus starting in Jiri. AND we were going to carry our own packs (this would prove to kill me later on, but not for the first 12 days). Our first night in Jiri we met a pair of hilarious Swedish boys that would turn out to be our buds in trekking, as there was hardly ANYONE else on the trail (except for a really intense Spanish couple that chain smoked and a motley crew of about 10 others, most with porters). But they were by far the highlight of the people we met on the trek- in fact, when we got to Namche and had to part ways, I felt like we'd known each other forever...and in reality it had been 10 days. But 10 days when all you're doing is walking up and down mountains and eating seems like a lifetime.

Our days went something like this:
-Wake up with the sun (around 7:30. actually, it was ALWAYS exactly 7:30 when I woke up and that kind of freaked me out. guess I have a good internal clock.)
-Eat breakfast.
-Start hiking.
-Eat lunch.
-Keep hiking.
-Eat dinner.
-Go directly to bed.
-Rinse, repeat.

So for 10 days this is how it was, and let me tell you, I have never exerted my body more than I did while hiking from Jiri. It was the most physically strenuous thing I have ever done. We would hike up and over sometimes two mountains a day...sometimes totaling 5,000 ft climbed (thus at least 3,000 ft down as well... because you had to go UP DOWN UP- oy, it was frustrating. ) Just when the guidebook said something like, "Nice walk to Bupsa from Karikola" you look down the trail, and there it is- BUPSA, 2,000 FEET ABOVE YOU. Needless to say, we had killer bodies. "Apple bottoms" were all around, noted by Tobi (one of the Swedes). We learned that "Nepali flat" means that the ups and downs cancel each other out in the Nepali mindset. We pleasured ourselves by night with food, food, and more food, and of course, good conversation. I wish I could describe to you each little villages that we passed through, but it would take hours...the only one we didn't have a pleasant experience in was Nunthala (large spiders, stained ceilings, rooms filled with petrol, and communist flags.... altogether the makings of a horror movie, Everest-style). The trail was a land of juxtapositions; ups and downs, HOT and COLD (have never been hotter or colder in my Namche I lived in a puffy down coat, day and night), clean and dirty, agriculture and wilderness, rich white tourists hiking alongside Nepali porters (sometimes young children carrying 50 kg of beer on their backs...another story unto itself), pain and pleasure. It was both something I would do again in an instant and something I NEVER want to do again.

In the end, I reached Namche (3,440 meters). I actually went a little bit higher, possibly near 3,800...but that's when I began wheezing and my legs started giving out, so I stopped. I didn't have altitude sickness (I was extremely aware of the symptoms of that, and I did not have them), but that doesn't mean the altitude didn't effect me...I think that my body was just completely spent after the hike from Jiri. For 10 days we hiked 6-7 hours a day, and strenuous hiking at that, and when I got to Namche, my body just quit. I waited it out for three days, but after not getting any better (I tried each day to climb a little higher, but alas, my legs wouldn't go), so we came down. I revere my body with the greatest respect (after all, it does pretty much anything I want it to), and if it says no, I comply. Though I was disappointed that I couldn't go any further (especially that first day, gosh I cried my eyes out), after doing some meditation in our hotel room I realized that the reason I came to Nepal was not to accomplish anything on that mountain. It's just a mountain. I accomplished all that I wanted to at Harka. That was the reason I came to Nepal. I came here to love some kids, and I got much more than I ever expected in return. Not only a wonderful time, but I added 17 brothers and sisters to my family (at Harka) and met a slew of new people in Kathmandu, on the trek...everywhere we've gone.

So we decided to go back to the orphan home! Just for one night, but the kids were SO EXCITED to see us (as we were them). Tulie and AShish and Jamuna could not stop smiling and giggling, Manish and Budi clung to our arms all evening, and even Ramesh seemed happy to see us. It was awesome. Granted, we had to leave, again, but I feel like it meant a lot that we came back. And they know we WILL come back in the future. We hadn't seen them for a month, but it seemed like we never left. And now we're back in Pokhara, tomorrow going to do a little trekking with our friend Guru (his family is from Pokhara and we get to visit them and he's going to guide us through the valley). Then we get to "observe" some of the voting on election day- which should be an altogether crazy experience. Jimmy Carter's going to observe as well! I'm not sure if he'll be in Pokhara... but it would be cool if he was. Evidently people from around the world are going to be here "observing" so that everything goes well/safely/accurately. Should be interesting in a country where the ballot consists of 85 pictures. I'll let you know more later I guess!
Love you all-

PS I miss you too Dad, and Mom and Kurt and Alex also- I'll be home soon!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


one of my last steps before i keeled over and stumbled down the mountain

Sherpa children are quite possibly the cutest children on earth, even if they're a little dirty

7 hour days make for muscles

ama dablam, way cooler looking than everest

everest...see? not that cool. it's always hanging out behind other stuff. 


looking out our window in Bupsa

Phewa Lake in Pokhara...we took out the "yeti boat" for a day

one of our first days on the trek, outside the little village of Bhandar

our lodge in Sete, arguably one of the most beautiful places I have ever been

our final night of the trek, our packs crushing us in our Lukla lodge room