Saturday, April 13, 2013

April 14th, 2:18am

I should be asleep, but it seems more like a chore than rest right now, so I decided to write.

This is departure day. We started out with 12, then three others joined us around the third day who were already here; then we became 15.

14 of us made it to Base Camp, one was 3hrs shy of reaching BaseCamp. Needless to say, the one person who didn't make it said he got so much more out of this trip than he came with, he considers it a personal and professional success.

All 15 of us experienced symptoms of Altitude Sickness, from headaches, stomach pains, diarrhea, mild frost bite to breathing problems. We had 3 people in the hospital, 2 people evacuated out by helicopter, one person broke their back , and lots of sunburn, and loss if appetite . With all of the things that occurred, it was worth it. To a person, even my friend laying in a hospital right now with a broken back because of this trek, all say it was worth it. Though a few have said they will hang up their hiking boots, most are hoping to keep thief feet in their boots and keep trekking; me included.

We saw a part of the world that is both beautiful and dangerous at the same time. I had the pleasure to interact with the Nepali people in the villages along the way that has taught me more about diversity than I could ever learn in a book. I learned that life is not fair, there is an imbalance in the world on what it means to live. What is existence in one part of the world, is so non-existent in others. Labor, a means or an exchange for basic rights is all over the scale of fairness. This land is harsh as I've said before, so are the conditions for so many people. And yet, the smiles I saw on people's faces in the villages positively made me believe there is still hope, to make things fair at home, and across the planet; maybe not perfect, but a lot better than it is.

I loved the negations for everything we had to buy; it seemed to be a better system than a fixed priced system because you get to play a role in what you're willing to pay for what you want.
I developed a reputation on the team as the negotiator, several times people would say to me, "can you get a better price?"
Once I was asked to negotiate with a vendor for a bracelet a teammate wanted to buy, I said, "this may get ugly, you might want to step outside and let the negotiations begin." I lost that negotiation, but I had a good time over the 15-20 minutes it took to come up with nothing on this deal. I believe me and the store merchant both enjoyed it, though he would have liked to have sold me the bracelet, I would have liked to have gotten it as well. I won more often than not with other merchants, but it was the relationships during the negotiations that really made it fun.

I've gone through lots of sunscreen on this trip, without showers for 3-days at a time, bandaged my toes every other day to keep the blisters from getting worse, taken Acetazolide, vitamins, cough drops, throat lozenges, gone through hand and toe warmers, 4-boxes of tissues, and still blowing my nose now, 3-bottles of hand sanitizer, Steri-penned gallons of water,1 1/2 tubes of tooth paste, 2-packages of Moist wipes, 3-roles of toilet paper, and a lot more items I can't account for at this moment.

Riding or walking in traffic when in the city has been both harrowing and fascinating. Everyone is practically blowing their horns because the congestion of motorcycles and cars is comparable to none, and yet I didn't see any sign of road rage, yet many times a car or motorcycle mirror would miss you by inches ad it passes by. Another Brownout just occurred as I am writing this, the whole city is cloaked in darkness; I won't forget this protocol that seems to occur twice a day at odd times.

The food has been good, I think I'm turning into a "rice sommelier" because we have had rice at least two times a day everyday unless you request otherwise. Rice is a main export of Nepal. We were told often, don't eat meat in the villages because refrigeration was most likely not available. We often passed by meat laying open in a big pan in front of a house; the warning was heeded by everyone. I've drank enough orange tea, black tea, and milk tea for a season; we had it for every meal.

The smell of yak is most likely to permeate my nostrils for a while, we practically lived with these animals on the trail; with their long draping fur, large Texas like pointed horns, and their slow steady and sure footed gate, they became family of sorts.

The lectures every night were absolutely informative, and to listen to the doctors debate the merits of a stated study or to demonstrate different techniques was fantastic. Though we did surprise simulations on the trail from time to time, they requested us "none-doctors" to participate, and asked us questions about what we would do next during a simulation. Who would of thought what we were doing during the simulations would become real days later?

Pictures, pictures, pictures; I brought three cameras, spare batteries, SDHC memory cards, and was able to keep the pictures under 2,000 shots. I'm thinking that the fatigue factor cut down picture taking considerably. There were times at altitude, I didn't have the energy nor the will to take a much wanted picture. I tried to balance people with nature shots as much as I could.

The Sherpas who are from the Sherpa clan were fantastic, they encouraged and supported us everyday. There were tj Ed when people couldn't carry their bags, and the Sherpas gladly took that on. The Sherpas also drove the yak team that had our bags minis our backpacks. At Base Camp, porters prepared our meals and set up our tents, tried to make the eating tent as warm as possible; we still froze everyday. Every time a person got sick, a Sherpa would stay behind to help, even when some people had to stay behind overnight in a village, a Sherpa would be with that person the whole time.

I'll stop here and rest for a few hours before the steps of departure begin.


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