Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cliffs of death

We were anxious for this day to start and none of us slept overly well last night.  We were up at 5am to finalize our packing and have a quick breakfast before heading off to the airport to catch our early flight to Lukla.  We met our guide whose name is Pratap and a porter and we were told we'd be picking up another porter once we got to Lukla.  Even that early in the morning on a Sunday the streets were teeming with people, vehicles and the odd calf running loose as cows in this country are sacred.

Once inside the airport we could see that things were not as organized as they are in other parts of the world.  There were booths set up haphazardly around an open area that represented the different airlines and people were flocked around each booth and then would run to another one shouting and calling to friends.  It was utter pandemonium and we were very thankful for our guide who navigated us around.  Pratap gave one last call to us for anything in our carry on that should be put into our checked luggage and away we went to the security check.

Ah means so many different things to so many people.  With the items that were pulled out of Valerie's bag and either looked at closely or taken away all together the implication was that she very well could have...tied someone up with her boot laces, done some acupuncture with her saftey pins and probably gagged and bound someone up with duct tape.  I don't know what you think but the rest of us girls think she looks like a terrorist too!  And, all in all we were patted down 4 times rather brisquely and this time no amount of farm girl was going to save us.

The entire waiting room was full of people just like us, off to Lukla to start climbing and there was a sense of urgency and competiveness in the air.  Flights were called and whole groups of climbers would shout in victory that they were going on ahead of other groups.  When our flight was called we were too polite to shout so we just gave devilish smiles and let everyone watch our asses sashay out the door. 

That's where the fun ended.  We were herded onto small vans and taken out to the runway and we pulled along-side an airplane that was leaking something hideous onto the tarmack and there we sat for probably half an hour.  When we headed back to the terminal we were told the weather conditions in Lukla were too bad to fly right then so we were would wait it out.  We were actually thankful at that point because at least we wouldn't be flying on that leaky plane!

That was early in the day and from the time we got back into the terminal, had one more run out to the tarmack and were brought back again we had spent about 7 hours at the airport.  You know, it wouldn't have been so bad but the longer you stay somewhere you evenutally have to use the facilites and that was a mistake......

In essence, the Lukla airstrip has a mountain on one side and a cliff with a river below it on the other and when the weather is bad either you wait it out, or you die trying to get there.  We all kind of value our lives and were happy to wait it out considering the alternative.

We drove back to the hotel, each of us lost in our own thoughts...what does this mean for the rest of our trip?  We have now lost a full day of climbing which in the long run could mean having to fore-go some other activities we had wanted to do and if we have to wait for too many days...what then?  We didn't make a plan B.

On the way back we were stopped for some traffic and the most adorable little boy was on the side of the road.  He shyly waved at us, we waved back and he smiled so sweetly.  He waved one more time and then hesitantly blew us a kiss.  That really made my day, it pulled me out of my self pity and reminded me that this experience is meant to be more than getting to stand on a piece of dirt called Everest Base Camp, we're here to experience the place, enjoy the people and soak in some cultureal diversity that we can't find at home.  So far...mission accomplished.


Anonymous said...

Hi Rhonda

Great to read your blog, sounds very exciting. I am sure things will work out with the flights and then you begin the great climb. I look forward to your next blog.


donita said...

Thanks for taking the time to keep us updated Rhonda! I love that your sense of humour shines through, even on frustrating and difficult days. Looking forward to hearing how it all turns out for you. Love to you all!!

smoerman said...

Is LOL appropriate for a blog? Well thats exactly what I did while reading this entry. It sounds like you are having fun with more than just the planned experiences.