Journal from Nepal Trip, 2003

 

Background Note:Anya is the person that I started seriously dating just before the trip started.

 

Oct 21, 2003 9:30pm at Home

 

In the middle of all my equipment piles.The cats want into the room, but I won't let them in.I finished organizing all my drugs.I hope I'm prepared.

†† The laptop I bought for Room to Read still works, yay!It's 75 degrees out even though it's October.All hail global warming.

 

Oct 24, 2003 7:40am SeaTac Airport

 

I'm sitting at the airport. Check in went fine. I'm fairly relaxed about this trip. I guess I can't do anything anymore.It just has to happen.Not worrying gives me more time to think about life and not getting stuck somewhere.

†† I slept well last night and enjoyed a wonderful venison meatloaf dinner.The excitement of the trip hasn't hit me yet.There was a bit of a scare yesterday when Michelle from World Expeditions called to ask about the Maoist situation in Nepal.I ran several scenarios in my head in case the trip was cancelled but was not happy with any of them.

I'm starting to miss Anya already.Several young couples are traveling happily together and I wish she were with me.

It's funny that the part of the trip that seems the scariest is meeting all the children at the libraries. I can deal with the physical pain and cold.People are a different matter.

†† Still sleepy from a long week.I tied up several loose ends at work so I feel much less stressed.It will be difficult, but I will try to take more pictures on this trip than usual.I have the equipment and time so we'll see what happens.One of my not-so-hard goals is to think about life, decide how the move to Portland should go and figure out my ideal living situation.The time away should help me come up with a vision.

 

Oct 25, 2003 8:50pm Hong Kong

 

Just finished the thirteen hour flight and it wasn't that bad.The movies are great for killing time. It felt good to do nothing.I didn't have profound thoughts or journal entries.The man sitting next to me was on his way to India and he spread his large frame out on the plane like a pancake.He made a mess of his things and didn't understand the flight attendant so I to clean his mess up.It didn't bother me that much.I'm kind of worried that my bag didn't make it to Bangkok.I forced myself to stay awake an extra eight hours so I'm pretty frazzled.I'm making a point of smiling at everyone in hopes that it will lighten the stress of the trip.I will try to sleep well tonight.We'll see...

 

Oct 26, 2003 11:17am Bangkok

 

Got in really late last night and my bag was right there.The Amari Airport Hotel is very nice but I felt I should have tipped more.The Bangkok airport is rather chaotic and confusing.I met three other companions today.Sarah Glover and Tom/Aly Williams.All are wonderful people.I'm looking forward to meeting the rest of the team.We're actually flying on a huge 777 today.I thought only Air Force 1 was a 777.This plane is large and the whole fuselage bent left and right as we hit bumps in the runway on takeoff.I guess that makes the plane lighter, but a bit more unsettling.

As usual, I'm not taking enough pictures.Hopefully that will change as the crowds of people die down.I need to take care of post cards today.After a recent discussion with Anya, I think I should track my feelings more on this trip.Mostly, I've been very happy.Everything has gone smoothly and I've had no problems.As we fly closer and closer to Nepal, there is more chaos and less white people.This actually didn't bother me as much as I thought it might.I'm maintaining a smile and pleasant attitude despite the jet lag.Of course, we'll really see how my introversion holds up a week from now up at altitude. :)

If this trip goes well, this might pave the way for a tropical bird trip or a Europe trip.Alaska too.I'm getting fond of these guided tours.Although they do cost a lot, my job allows me the luxury.I hope to take Anya somewhere next year.I really hope we make it past March (inside joke).

It feels weird writing this journal because I know that I'll be posting it to my website when I get back.Actually, what I'll do is write down whatever the hell I feel like writing and edit it later for the masses.Maybe I'll have two versions; one for close friends.I still miss Anya.

 

Oct 26, 2003 3:30pm Radisson Hotel in Kathmandu

 

Man, the traffic is crazy here!The hotel is definitely a five-star with everything.I'm currently staying with Steve Malkenson.We hit it off pretty well by talking about our new Nikon Coolpix cameras.Our trek leader's name is Manzoor.

 

Oct 27, 2003 4:05pm Kathmandu

 

I'm not feeling that motivated right now.We went on a bus tour this morning to see Buddhist temples and Hindu shrines.I was amazed at the Buddhist artwork, but neglected to purchase any.The Hindu shrines were less impressive but we got to see the cremation of several dead people.One pile had a person with their arms sticking out and the burning flesh was gross.There were more people trying to sell us stuff at the tourist traps.One cremation takes $200 in wood.

Most shops were closed today so I stayed in my room this afternoon packing and writing postcards.I'm kind of bummed that I didn't send get to send e-mail to anyone, perhaps later tonight.I miss Anya.

I'm not enjoying this trip yet. We seem to be doing many extroverted things that consume my energy.Part of me just wants to collapse but my body feels fine.I suspect that nobody will understand this except Steve.

 

Oct 28, 2003 ??? time On Bus

 

We're on a long bus ride.I just got out of an amazing school ceremony.It was three hours!It was nowhere near as bad as I thought.The bus horns are loud.Ack, I can't write on this lurching bus.I gotta pee too.I found it interested that men embraced each other during the ceremony.Jason, Jeff and Christine have a real sarcastic New York bite.We went to a second school ceremony, which was better.Two kids gave me their precious marbles and I didn't know what to say.I gave them back to two other kids out of the bus window.

We had a fifteen-minute lunch with kerosene-flavored noodles.We're running late and we have a 6:00pm curfew to beat getting to Besi-Sahar.If we don't make it, we'll have to sleep on the bus.Jeez, there's a huge rock as big as our bus that fell right in the middle of the road.

 

6:30pmWhew!We're finally here.We're sitting in a mess tent outside waiting for our rooms to get ready.Today was so crazy.This is definitely a great experience.Despite all the chaos, I feel everything is going to be okay.Jason is a real asshole, full of insecurity and snide remarks.

 

Oct 29, 2003 2:15am Besi Sahar hotel

 

This is our first real night of setbacks.I lost my working pen.Steve lost his sleeping liner.Our beds at the lodge are too short for us.Most of all, a rabid dog across the street barked from 9:30pm to 2:00am without stopping and kept everyone awake.I suspect that people will be very grouchy later today.On a major positive note, we actually got to Besi-Sahar without having to sleep on the bus and the dinner food as excellent and served well.Some drank lots of beer and we enjoyed massive stars while standing on the roof. Good night.

 

Oct 29 10:40am

 

We've hiked about four miles from Besi-Sahar to a small town of Khudi.Group spirits are high and I feel happy.We only have another four miles or so to go.This will be a fast day.We crossed our first bamboo bridge and, surprise, it was a bit shaky.

We're all comparing maps now.They're different sizes but all seem to come from the same company.Ack! My pen is dying!It's a beautiful day with a slightly warm temperature.

Our lunch spot is idyllic.We sit in the shade under a large tree by a rushing river.Since the dogs barked all last night, most of us are napping.It feels so peaceful.I think of Anya again.Ah, lunch is here.

I talked with Jason this morning about his involvement in Room to Read.It seems that everyone who gets involved like it a bunch and gets sucked in.

 

Oct 30 7:07am

 

Had a wonderful night's sleep!I get my own tent too!We camped by a stream and the rushing water soothed us all night.We visited the original Books For Nepal school yesterday that educates over four hundred kids.The advanced algebra on the chalkboards impressed me. (It looked planted, though)I especially enjoyed the groundbreaking ceremony where we laid the first bricks of the new school building.This was the first night in tents and I slept like a rock.I woke up with my arms asleep twice.I felt peaceful, relaxed and serene.

 

Oct 30 12:55pm

 

Another fantastic lunch.The hiking is still relatively easy.Group morale is good. Shit, this sounds like a status report...

†† Sara is talking about "The Artist's Way" where we write "morning pages"I'll have to e-mail her about that later.

 

6:10pm I sit in my tent.It's already dark and the guides are beating on their drum.The rush of the river outside and the fresh air clears my mind and relaxes me.I think of Anya again.I envision our future together and all the ups and downs it might have.

I'm sitting on a huge (20 feet tall) rock on the beach.Unfortunately, between camp and the rock, the beach is filled with human excrement.I suspect it will get worse as we ascend.I'm happy our group has a toilet tent.We met our porters this morning.The oldest is fifty-four and is missing his right hand.The youngest porters are sixteen-year-old sherpani girls.I tried lifting a load yesterday and nearly snapped my neck.

My mind is starting to clear out so visions of the future can fill it.I'm still trying to figure out how to use my skills to better the world.I'm a computer freak now, but maybe I'll get into water sanitation, filtration or desalination - if that's what it takes.My current salary allows me to travel and give away a lot of money.I also love my job.

 

Things to think about on this trip:

1. What to do with Anya and our future

2. Where to live in Portland and how

3. How to help the world with my skills

 

Oct 30 7:50pm

 

Had a delightful dinner talking with Suzanne and Sarah about Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).Sarah suggested two things for me to do at work to squelch my intensity:

 

1. Have office hours for people to talk to me where I expect interruptions

2. Have a ritual to transition from work mode to focusing on the person

 

The meals here are amazing.All are 5-7 tasty items and we all get stuffed.We'll need it for the climb.

 

Oct 31 6:50am Syanje

 

I'm well rested.I'm thinking that Anya would love this trip with its good vegetarian food and ability to wash up every day.There seems to be many birds too.The pee bottle worked very well last night.I just have to keep it from overflowing.I'll have to bring my camelback next time.

If I could do Aconcagua or Denali this way, I'd have a much better time.Having meals and tents ready just makes things more fun.

 

Oct 31 12:17pm Lunch by Chamje

 

Two people down.Jason has the flu; Aly has stomach cramps.The hike is much steeper today but I still feel great.I tried meditative hiking today where I breathed in and said OM on the breath out.I glided over the trail, though not as fast as the others.I hope it will help over Thorung La Pass.

We just crossed over on an old Nepali bridge because the tourist bridge was wrecked from a heavy rock fall.Some idiot tried to cross anyway and got totally stuck at the end before going back.The rapids in the river here are class four-plus.I wouldn't want to fall in.OK, idiot number two is going out on the broken bridge and did cross on the dangling cables.I still wouldn't do it.People in our group look beat.We're missing Steve.

 

Nov 1 6:15am Tal

 

I feel great this morning.The group slowed down yesterday.Jason's fever fluctuated and Aly still had issues.Tom assures us that Aly will feel better today.Tom, Aly and Jason stayed in the guesthouse fifty feet away from camp.Dinner conversation totally talked about television, which I had difficulty relating to.Christine seems very intelligent but doesn't show it because Jeff and Jason dominate the conversation.

 

Nov 1 5:00pm Danaghu

 

Today was an easy day.We had this amazing bread with fruit in it for lunch.I'm still blown away by the food.I sit in my tent after teatime in a fit of introverted isolation.I'm not sure why.This campsite wasn't as good as the last few and I feel packed in next to the kitchen and porter crew.I'm getting more comfortable with the group now and I feel them warming up to me more.I suspect there won't be any lasting friendships but everyone's pleasant.I'm still inspired by all the thirty something people on this trip who give a damn about the world and want to do something about it.I'm still struggling to find my place in the world, as are all the people on this trip.

 

Nov 2, 6:10am Danaghu

 

It was cold enough last night to warrant zipping up my sleeping bag.I had an interesting nightmare where I was in a van with Jason.He was insulting me and slowly choking me to death.I as trying to fight back but I was too weak.The second dream I remember is me in a building trying to leave but unable to shut off the burglar alarm and it constantly blared in our ears.

I think the novelty of the trip just wore off.I'm happy to be here and I'm more thankful for people's health and warm water in the morning.I'm not worried about anything yet, although we haven't yet hit high altitude.

 

7:05am Itís definitely much colder this morning.I am wearing a wet shirt to dry it off, and most of the porters are huddling together too.I need to try and dry my clothes at night instead of wearing them in the morning.Steve thinks we're a day behind.

 

 

Nov 2, 6:15 pm Bhratang

 

This was a long day.We got into camp around 4:45pm, much later than usual.I chatted with Kristine and got to know more about her, which was good.As suspected, itís getting colder.Jason is in sorry condition and we're looking into flying him out tomorrow or the next day.Aly is doing better.I gave her some of my cliff bars that I haven't even started eating.My butt is sore for the first time.Otherwise, I feel good.The next days will be shorter as we acclimatize for the big day over Thorung La Pass.

I still miss Anya (surprise).I really want things to work out between us.I'm happy and proud when I mention her to other people.Suzanne is trying to use her satellite phone to contact World Expeditions headquarters to help get Jason out.I'm amazed at the size and weight of the phone.I have a barely perceptible headache now at 9000 feet.I hope it doesn't blow up on me.I hear my photographer coworker's voice (Marc Biundo) in my head telling me to take more pictures.More later.

 

Nov 3, 6:15am

 

I didn't sleep well last night.It was colder and I'm starting to get a sore throat, YIKES.I still feel rested and full of energy.Several pony trains rattled through camp throughout the night, waking me up with their ringing bells.Is suppose there could be much harsher things though.I think my sore throat is from the cold air.If I pull my head inside my sleeping bag, the warm air soothes my throat and the pain goes away.I wonder what' happening with Jason today...

I forgot to mention that yesterday we passed through a police checkpoint in Chame.There were several army folk there with guns.They were quite friendly, but our trekking leader didn't tell us beforehand what to do.Things went okay and Steve snapped a picture, even though he wasn't supposed to.

 

Nov 3, 5:35pm Humde

 

Today was shorter.Jason is walking around and feeling much better.I think the altitude is starting to get to me.I have a low-grade headache and I'm more listless and unmotivated.Food doesn't taste as good. On the flip side, our campsite is absolutely gorgeous.Snow-capped peaks surround us and we sit in the bottom of a wide valley.

My first camera battery burned out today.I should have plenty left for the rest of the trip.We discussed treating the porters to hotel rooms in Menang for two nights.I hope they enjoy them.Group morale is high and we're all still getting along.I think it will be very difficult to find another vacation experience like this with a group of thirty-somethings that care so much.Maybe I'm getting soft in my age (hah!) but this trekking thing is really sweet.My extended wear contact lenses are working out great!I like being able to just toss on my sunglasses.

 

Nov 4, 7:15am Humde

 

Last night was really cold but I think I developed a working system down with my down parka over my head.It got below freezing and there's frost on the inside of the mess tent.The water in the washing station was frozen solid.Jason is up and bitching away as usual; he looks better.Everyone is talking about how they didn't sleep.Suzanne dropped her toilet paper roll in the latrine.

 

Nov 4, 12:30pm Menang

 

We did a fairly easy three-hour hike this morning into Menang.We're staying in very cushy rooms by Nepal standards with attached bathrooms.We're about to eat lunch on the roof patio.I can't believe the view up here.It's so overwhelming I can't speak.We can see Annapurna III, II and IV as well as Gangapurna.I feel serene and peaceful but not joyous.I'm not sure why, it may be the altitude or fatigue.We're at 11,320 feet approximately.It's stunningly beautiful.I wish Anya were here to see this.We splurged and put all the porters in rooms tonight.We might stay in rooms all the way down instead of tents beyond Thorung La pass.

I'm dirty now and look forward to a shower and washing clothes after lunch.I think a change is happening in my mind.Life is so simple and peaceful here.My job at home seems trivial.I have to think practically too, but the shifting viewpoint helps.I'm not enjoying this trip as much as I hoped, but I'm actually enjoying the introspection.I'm a little disturbed that we're staying in so many lodges.I expected us to be roughing it more.On a positive note, many of my friends would do this without a problem.We don't seem to be out in nature although the hiking is great.Perhaps this pampering is what we need to get over the pass.

Steve keeps bringing up the concept of "mountains" in many areas of life.Whether it's hiking or learning to fly a plane, you need to keep going to make it work after getting over the hump of starting.

 

Nov 5, 7:05am Manang

 

I miss Anya.We got to sleep late this morning until (uh oh) 7:30am.I guess it doesn't matter too much since we're all going to bed at 8:00pm anyway.We're having significant unstructured free time here (UFT) and my mind is slowly clearing out.

I don't feel close to any of the people on the trip.I'll probably never see them again, so there's not much motivation.I can probably relate most to Steve since he has been traveling, has no kids and likes technology.Sarah has a kind soul and has been through a lot in her life.Suzanne and I are on different planets but I appreciate her upbeat and positive attitude.I feel weird writing this journal because I know much of it will go on the WWW.There are feelings and judgments I have about others on this trip that I'd like to get out but don't want to post to the world.There's also much love, fear and anxiety I feel about my new relationship with Anya.@#*, my pen isn't working!

 

Nov 5, 4:00pm Manang, tea time

 

I spent the afternoon contemplating life while meditating in my room.I came up with some ideas about where to go in life.I'm still thinking a lot about how to make things work out with Anya.Since we've been out of contact for several days, I have no idea what's going on in her head.Sometimes I wonder if I'll come home and she'll want nothing to do with me.I kind of doubt it, though.We'll see.Probably the biggest thing I'll have to focus on is moving to Portland.I wonder how much I should.....(Damn, my pen isn't working again.)

 

After-the-fact side note: We went on a conditioning hike today up 1200 feet to help us acclimatize.

 

Nov 5, 6:00pm Manang, in room at Yak hotel

 

After finishing tea, I was too full for dinner so I went for a walk and ended up 700 feet above the harvest fields at a run down building.Many of the walls were caved in.There was a rickety old ladder going upstairs so I risked it and went up.To my delight, I found a Buddhist shrine in the rather good condition!I'm kicking myself for not bringing a camera.I don't know if the others will believe me.

 

Note: my pen fails mostly on the right half of the page.I'll bet the pen is failing because of the oils in my hand pressing into the paper!

 

Nov 5, 6:20pm

 

On a side note, we decided to put the porters and staff in rooms last night and tonight.They take a room with three beds, slide the beds together and five porters spoon each other to stay warm.We offered more rooms, but that's what they wanted.Many of them don't know each other.I think this says a lot about the difference in our cultures.I also see many men holding hands or putting their arms around each other when sitting or walking.I wonder if it would be possible to combine the best of each culture without destroying both in the process.(It's a good thing that I'm typing this is later as my handwriting is getting awful)

 

8:00pm Amazing pizza dinner with a birthday cake and dancing for Sarah!

 

Nov 6, 6:45am Manang Room

 

This is the last morning for luxury.A final sponge bath with warm water and we'll be off to climb another 1500 feet up.I feel much better this trip altitude-wise than my trip up Aconcagua.Of course, we're only at 12,000 feet.We only have a three-hour day today.I should make a list of all my equipment while it's in use so that I don't forget it when we jumble everything up for the flights home.I talked with Sarah and Suzanne last night about feeling joy in life.Sarah suggested that I was using my analytical strength too much and it was getting in the way of my feelings.What is joy?More importantly, how does one feel it?My church offered a class once on "joyology."Today I choose not to think or analyze, but to experience and enjoy.Let's see what happens.

 

Nov 6, 4:30pm Yak Karka

 

I felt great today on the trail.I bought some prayer beads and chanted OH MA NI PAD ME OM all the way into camp.It's very windy here and I'm the only client left in a tent.With the door open, the wind blows in buckets of dirt.There are yaks here!And they're huge!I'm afraid that they might run over my tent.The alpha yak seems to be running around intimidating everyone.After lunch I developed a splitting headache.It's the same kind I got on Aconcagua.We're only at 13,200 feet so this is early, but I'm not taking Diamox this time.I took two acetaminophens and the pain seems to slowly go away as teatime goes on.Sarah is talking with the Sirdar to better understand the phonemes in the Nepali alphabet.

 

Nov 6, 7:00pm Yak Karka dinnertime

 

We requested bland food for dinner and our cook came through for us.We're having a delightful card game of rummy 500.We joked a bit about pee bottles and diamox effects.People are thinking about flying out early from Jomosom.

 

Nov 7, 7:20am Yak Karka

 

Slept OK last night.The yaks were running around my tent and kept me up.Someone stole my boots last night!The Sirdar has an extra pair that fit me pretty well.I don't know if I'm in shock yet.Ramesh has my hold boots that I climbed Kilimanjaro with and we might have to swap boots.We'll see what happens.I hope a needy porter or yak herder got my stolen boots.

People are still sick.Our guide, Manzoor, is sick as well.Jeff has stomach issues.Jason strained his ribs coughing.Kristine has some stomach issues.It was minus seven degrees Celsius last night.My water bottle had ice in it.

 

Nov 7, 5:05pm High Camp above Thorung Phedi

 

The replacement boots that the sirdar provided fit great!He says I can use them until we get over the pass and down to lower altitudes.We're all here at 15,800 feet and feeling frozen and woozy.I climbed an extra 300 feet to a viewpoint where I got a stunning panorama view and pictures.Everyone is cold and moving slowly.We're anxious to start over the pass at 4:00am.The group at the next table is talking in German but they're speaking too fast for me to understand.My hands are getting dark and wrinkled from the sun.After I took Excedrin to kill my headache this afternoon, I feel great.Kristine and Jeff are asleep and not joining us for dinner.They're pretty tired and sleepy.

 

Nov 8, 5:00am High Camp above Thorung Phedi

 

Summit day.Not surprisingly, we're all moving slowly.I feel warm and strong but my head spins just a bit.Suzanne has nausea.Not much to say.Actually, I only got five hours of sleep last night out of a possible eight.Most of the time I wasn't thinking about Thorung La Pass, but of what I should do with life or where I want to take my relationship with Anya.Even though we've only dated just over a month, I'm thinking how to resolve our issues so we can last long term.I'm thinking that we should spend time enjoying each other more before making too many plans.I feel we've covered most of the important issues so there are no "showstoppers."I'm psyched to get home and see her.

 

Nov 8, 12:00noon 1.5 hours from Muktinath

 

This was an ass-kicker day.We're still 1.5-2 hours from Muktinath and our knees are jelly.I can't imagine going over the pass in the opposite direction.We've got 3800 feet down and the area is so desolate.The first town exists because this is the first available water.Suzanne rode over the pass on a horse because she was too tired.I think I have diarrhea from last night.Hopefully, everyone's health will get better.I stayed at the pass for an extra hour to get everyone's picture.I hope my final album comes out well.I feel like shit.We had five or six false summits before the pass and it sucked the morale out of all of us.

 

Nov 8, 4:10pm Muktinath

 

We're exhausted from the pass today.Four people went off in search of a hot shower.I settled for the cold shower at the hotel.I'm trying to think less and feel more.Just had a great conversation with a guy from Germany named Dick.He's traveling the circuit clockwise and works on the railway in North Germany.

I feel disconnected from the rest of the team but probably just feel tired from the hike today.We're still at 12,500 feet and I find myself out of breath sometimes.Three tiny children just opened my door asking for chocolate.I'm a bit surprised by their forwardness and I hope other tourists aren't teaching them to beg.My thoughts are so random in this state of exhaustion.I feel restless or irritated right now but I'm not sure why.I'm submerged in this wonderful culture but I'm pushing it away instead of fully embracing it.

Why am I here?To get away.To get out of my element and learn something new.To help children through Room To Read.For a physical challenge.To find new direction in life.To find spirituality among a people who have few material needs and joyfully serve others.I'm looking for a new sense of purpose.

 

In Victor Frankl's book "Man's quest for meaning", he found that people find meaning in:

1. A commitment to another person

2. A commitment to a life work

3. Living for new experiences

 

Dean Kamen invented a highly efficient water purification system for third-world countries too.

 

Nov 9, 6:10am Muktinath

 

We're still at 12,000 feet and blowing my nose leaves me breathing heavily.I didn't sleep well at first last night.Several things were on my mind and I didn't fall asleep until 11:00pm even though we hit the sack at 8:00pm.The pee in my urine bottle is much more orange, so I think I'm really dehydrated.No surprise.

We're getting up half an hour earlier today, unexpectedly.Manzoor did not show up at dinner so he could beat his fever, and, as such, could not tell us about the time change.It looks as if we're going to be doing 14-16 mile days until we get out.The weather is already much warmer but windy too.People's state of health: Kristine, Manzoor and Jeff are down, the rest of us are tired but recovering.

 

Nov 9, 7:15pm Marfam

 

Well, it looks like I caught what Jason, Jeff and Kristine had.I felt extremely weak and a bit nauseous after our long hike today.I just threw up most of lunch and other fluids minutes ago.Getting it out of my system feels much better.I'm still exhausted from the day and hope I can sleep it off.

Today was interesting.We got up thirty minutes earlier at 6:00am.We dropped 8000 feet and walked another 5-6 miles along a huge dry riverbed.Not too scenic except for the mountains on the side.In Jomosom, Steve, Jeff, Jason and Kristine decided to end the trip early due to sickness and back pain.They originally thought to get a plane ticket out, but all the flights were full for the next day.Instead, they splurged and spent $1000 to get a helicopter ride out in a few hours.Aly and Tom were on the fence but decided to stick with the trek despite the 40mph winds and dust we ran into.I'm in bed now hoping to get better.

 

After note at home: The chopper group (Steve, Jeff, Jason, Kristine) weren't able to get the chopper ride and actually caught a plane out two days later after hanging out in Marfam.

 

Nov 10, 6:20am Marfam

 

Slept well last night.No more nausea.Damn I stink.The bathroom and shower were so difficult to get to, I'm glad I had my pee bottle.I will try to eat a little this morning to see what happens.I don't remember my dreams. My window is right on the main street so there were noises all night and more early in the morning.

 

1:00pm Feeling better.I was able to choke down some rice.There are some big fires around Daulagiri that are clouding everything up.Damn, my pen is failing again...

 

Nov 10, 6:30pm

Feeling much better but still not hungry.I'm having major Anya withdrawal.I have so much to hope for us yet so much anxiety that something will go wrong.Typical thoughts for someone caught up in a relationship.

 

Nov 11, 6:40am

 

Slept like a rock last night.Had a funny dream about computer generated gingerbread men marching out of a castle to the Van Halen song "Right Now." I feel much better and am rearing to hit the trail.I stayed in a tent last night and enjoyed the darkness and solitude.There's a poster of the Swiss Alps on the wall that's enticing.I've never been to Europe; Germany or Switzerland might be a good place to start.Bird watching in the rain forests of Costa Rica might be good too.Taking care of Anya comes first though.

I was just watching my porter tie my equipment to Manzoor's equipment bag and then tie his own bag on tope of them for carrying.It seems like everyone slept like a rock as well.

 

Cool places to go: New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, Bali, Swiss Alps, Patagonia, China's great wall, Costa Rica

 

Nov 11, 8:30pm Tatopani

 

Whew, this day flew!I feel so much better and I've been cruising down the trail at high speed with Santosh (one of our guides).We got into camp at 4pm, half an hour earlier than anyone else.We jumped into the communal hot springs with about twenty other trekkers and soothed our aching muscles while listening to techno music.I seemed to have lost my watch in the process, but it was a $20 cheapie from Target.People seem to be in good spirits.Sarah's joints are really in pain and she's going slowly.I totally miss Anya and will call her when I get to Kathmandu.We had an amazing chicken curry tonight for dinner.The days have been long and hard but tomorrow is our last day hiking 14-15 miles.

 

Nov 12, 6:55am Tatopani

 

Yay, I found my watch again.I slept straight through from 9:00pm until 6:00pm without waking once.I woke with a nosebleed and am a bit tired (probably just really relaxed) but feeling healthy.It was very humid out and all the clothes I hung out are wet.

 

Nov 12, 10:36am Trail

 

I can feel the trip coming to an end.My mind is filling up with all the good and bad thoughts of home.I was caught behind a huge donkey caravan for the past half hour.For a few hundred yards the trail was a solid mat of donkey crap with it putrid smell.My mind is exploding with thoughts right now and my hand is swollen so I can't write, damnit!

 

11:15 Iím frustrated that I had a very brief moment when my mind was filled with wonderful thoughts, profound to me and important, even if to no one else.That fleeting moment is gone and I only have scribbles to remember.I believe that's what Nepal has..... (had to get up and start walking)

 

11:35am At this moment, I've withdrawn into myself from this death march.I do not see the river, the trail or the beautiful countryside.All I can do is try to write.I long for the simple luxuries of home, such as flushing the toilet, drinking from the tap and refrigeration.Every moment in Nepal, I have to worry about some disease getting into me and tearing apart my intestines.We always trade one set of worries for another and the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.In Nepal, I didn't worry about deadlines or office politics or traffic or feeling ashamed that I was wasteful with my resources.Living in Nepal would be extremely hard for me.I am much more trained to American society.

"Nepal is not here for us to change, but for it to change us." This quote from my Nepal book grows truer with time.I can't say that this trip has changed me as much as my failed climb of Aconcagua, but seeing the wonderful people, and their kindness has shown me honor, respect and goodness beyond anything in the U.S.The real challenge will be to not forget these moments and integrate the good parts with my life.Leaving behind the wretched kerosene smell, the yak shit and the diseases will be welcome.Taking time to enjoy the scenery, talking to people and being kind to others are things I wish to keep.

Walking down the trail today reminded me totally of Eagle Creek back home in the Columbia Gorge.We walked alongside a river for several miles high up on a rock trail.Other than the fading mountains behind us, I actually think Eagle Creek is nicer.It makes me more fully appreciate my home near Portland.Portland doesn't have the guesthouses, the tall mountains or the kind people, but it doesn't have the crowds of donkeys or kerosene smell either.I thought about Anya all morning and I miss her much.I miss home.

On a slightly geekier note, I finally understand wavelets and how they work well in encoding and compressing music into MP3 files.The moment of insight happened as all the garbage from my job rushed back into my empty, tired head.Maybe it will help me with my color organ music analysis after I get home...

I don't know where life is going or where things are going with Anya, but for a few brief days over here, it didn't matter.Life was simple; get up, eat, hike, enjoy the moment, eat dinner, sleep well.Life here was not easy, but simple.There's a tough balance between letting life take you where it will and grabbing it by the balls and steering it where you dreams lie.Often we learn the most as we oscillate between two extremes, not while sitting stagnant in the middle.

We visit one last school tomorrow.I'm not looking forward to it.The novelty has worn off and I'm tired, smelly and introverted.Having said that, Iím probably going to be donating more funds to Room To Read for their operations.

This trip was the longest I've taken.One thing I haven't mentioned yet is that there are so many landslides around.During the monsoon season, the rains often wash out one of the towns.I even have a picture of a house where half of it has fallen into the river.

The inspirational thoughts are gone.Hopefully more will come later.

 

Nov 12, 6:00pm in Beni at the Yeti hotel

 

I think my attitude is a little better, but my body has finally shut down.My left Achilles tendon hurts a lot from my stiff, borrowed boots.I'm exhausted and struggled to make it to tea.Beni is a very busy town like Kathmandu.There are screaming people and children everywhere as well as the stench of gasoline from motorcycles and lawn mower pulled vehicles.The gates on the hotel are closed because of the curfew for the Maoist uprising.I hope to sleep well tonight.

 

Nov 13, 4:00pm Pokhara

 

We had a four-hour bus ride this morning to Pokhara.We saw an amazing view of Machupuchure Mountain.Went shopping in Pokhara and found some stuff.I really want Mani stones.Went to the local cyber cafť and they had to fire up the generator.We all talked through the same 33.6K-baud modem connection.Oof!Nonetheless, I got to read my e-mail for the first time.Hearing from Anya was wonderful and I sent back a happy note.We're working out tips for the crew now.I still want to get more stuff in Kathmandu.

I think I got a leech on my foot during the bus ride.My sock is bloody but I felt nothing bite.Manzoor's leg is bloody too.

 

Nov 13, 6:17pm Pokhara

 

Okay, I just blew far more money than I should have, but I have some gifts to give folks now.I'm currently holding all the tips for the porters until dinner (it's a lot) in my fanny pack.

Time is flying and the day will soon be over.The trip likewise.I'm looking forward to seeing Anya, but I'm worried that I won't have the energy to pay attention to her.

I finally returned the boots that I borrowed from Bharat, our sirdar.He wanted me to wait a while before returning them, but never explained why...

 

Nov 14, 12:45pm Pokhara

 

We just visited our last school this morning and it was by far the best overall.We drove from Pokhara out to a village 35 minutes away on roads unfit for a Hummer.Room To Read provided eleven scholarships and a computer for the school.After we got there, the children literally crammed piles and piles of flowers into our hands.Then, to the beat of a drum, they did their morning exercises before marching single file off to class.The marching seemed a bit militaristic but sets the atmosphere for discipline.We saw several classrooms and posters of human anatomy that had both Nepali and English on them.I photographed a poster of "Birds of Nepal" for Anya.The Nepalese school has a sister school in Seattle called Meridian that I'll have to contact so I can send them a CD-ROM of the photos.Camille and Tori are two teachers at Meridian I might contact.

I'm talking with the people at the school.I wanted to learn more about their computer needs, so I could more effectively work with the Room To Read team in Kathmandu.Some of the big issues are:

 

1. They run on 220 Volts (needs a special plug)

2. The power drops for about a second every hour or so (need a 220V UPS with voltage regulator)

3. The computers need networking together to share files and the printer

4. The computers are very dusty and the insides get dirty quickly (need fans/filters on vents)

 

I'll contact the Room To Read office for more info on how I can help.

 

Nov 14, 3:20pm Pokhara airport

 

We're waiting for the plane that was supposed to leave at 3:00pm and watching really bad Bollywood television.The drama is way too much and my brain is fried.I'm glad I have no television.

 

Nov 15, 7:25am Kathmandu at Radisson hotel

 

Whew, it's great to finally get a _hot_ shower!We got in last night, showered up and then headed out to the Thamel district for some wood-fired (not kerosene) pizza.Afterwards, I sent some e-mail to Anya and family and did some last minute shopping before crashing back at the hotel.I'm half tempted to jump in the jacuzzi before we go, but I probably can do that in Bangkok tonight.

We return our group equipment this morning (sleeping bag, sleeping sheet and down parka).I'm going to try and help Suzanne get some of her pictures uploaded to the internet and copy all my photos to her tiny Sony laptop.The Room to Read office wants me to carry a banner back to the U.S. for them today.†† I hope that they can get it to the hotel on time this morning because it's Saturday.Oh yeah, I lost a contact lens too while showering; everything looks weird.

 

Nov 15, 2:00pm Kathmandu airport

 

This morning was a whirlwind.Everything was like clockwork.I got up, showered, at breakfast, organized my packing, downloaded my pictures to Suzanne's laptop, got the Room To Read banner from Dinesh, finished packing and got on the bus all in about three hours.There was no panic or rush but no minutes to spare either.I'm sitting on the plane now and (surprise) we're late already.The airport experience was total chaos.I don't think I'm going to India any time soon or without a guided tour. Australia or New Zealand sounds good though.Costa Rica comes highly recommended.Security officials twice in the Nepal airport frisked me.I still miss Anya.I'm sitting next to two jovial Aussies on the plane who trekked the Everest circuit for twenty days.It was very hard to read with my missing contact lens (close-up) so I bit the bullet, took out the other one and started using my glasses.

 

Nov 16, 8:06am Bangkok airport

 

Yesterday evening was a haze.We got into Bangkok and got rather scattered.It's very humid here and I sweat bullets while getting to my room at the Amari airport hotel.The accommodations are so luxurious that I feel rather out of place.I planned to go in the hot tub, but I zoned out and sat in my room watching television instead.The movie was really bad.

I'm actually on an earlier flight this morning from Bangkok to Hong Kong so I'll be in Hong Kong longer.There's a business students next to me from Sri Lanka going for her masters degree at a Japanese school.I'm still in a haze.My vacation is over and I have Anya, the cats, my job and friends to look forward to.I hope the cats are still alive.I worry that they'll freak out and thrash the house.I feel like a broken record in my journal entries but I'm trying to let go and just write down my thoughts and (uh oh) feelings.

 

11:30am Hong Kong time

I just talked with Ama on the plane about Buddhism for the past hour.I'm really starting to like this religion but I want to reconcile it with Anya.I swiped the Buddhist book from the Amari hotel.I hope they don't charge me for it.

 

Nov 16, 7:00pm en route to Canada

 

I'm on the 10.5-hour flight to Canada.I bumped into Sarah again at the Hong Kong airport and we discussed our thoughts and feelings about the trip.It's going to be a real pain adjusting ten hours off of Nepal to get back home.Having two screaming kids on the plane right behind me kicking my seat doesn't help either.Maybe I'll get a vasectomy sooner than I think.Damn, I don't want kids.Oh shit, one of the kids behind me just blew a whistle.I hope his mom get that away from him.Ack, nine more hours.I'm looking forward to being home.

 

Nov 16, 4:00am Canada time (across the dateline)

 

Oh cool, there's a lightning storm just outside the plane in the clouds below and the stars of Orion are just off the tip of the wing!We're just east of Tokyo, Japan.There are hundreds of lightning bolts going off every minute.I wonder if it's something besides lightning.

 

Nov 16, 1:50pm Vancouver

 

Well, this is it.The last leg of this huge flight.I'm in a small turbo-prop headed back to Seattle.I got on a flight 1.5 hours early so I hope mom and dad are back from Las Vegas.I got my bag searched twice in customs.They found two batteries near the electronics in my shaver and I guess it looked like a bomb.The flight on this small plane is bumpy and I hope my stomach doesn't jump.I didn't read "A People's History of the United States" as much as I expected on the 13-hour flight.†† I guess I enjoyed the blockbuster movies more.I'm having difficulty staying awake due to the jet lag, but hopefully I'll force myself to match the time change.

Let's see what happens next year...

 

Namaste.