Sunday, July 18, 2010
So where to start? My father asked me at dinner “what was the highlight of the trip?” I said “I feel I grew up, I had 8 hours a day for 3 weeks walking and thinking time and I realised many aspect of my life that I would like to change. There are the obvious..... Got a job, get a house, get just one responsibility and get a man and hopefully in the future fulfil my feminine maternal duty and perhaps consider the idea of children!
This was discussed one night at Gorak Shep roughly 5200m in altitude slightly lacking oxygen so my brain not fully functioning when a lovely lady who I envisaged a dangerous liaisons esque teacher who had a class of 60 students in a Californian state school. She turned a said “Gee you’re nearly 30 you had better hurry up or you’ll have to wait 10 years for people to be getting divorced as all the good ones will be gone!” That night I lay awake in my sleep. I am unsure if it was altitude sickness (which by the way I call attitude sickness) or what she said but I did feel slightly unwell and sped up my ascent up the mountain somewhat the following day.
With no communication with the outside world bar the Nepalese watchmen who fed us curry tasting porridge for breakfast, rice for lunch and an assortment of choice in the evening which ended up tasting the same. I was starting to feel ready to return home. Exhaustion had started to creep up on me and I started to feel as though if someone said black I would say white. I often hid myself in our dormitory and reflected on myself and my thoughts and constantly had to remind myself I chose this path and there is absolutely no way I was going back. It never actually crossed my mind to give up, but there were many times I wished I would die!!!!
While walking in the extreme ever changing conditions a much less trampled path was ahead of Bernie and I and we were walking completely alone at one of the highest points on Planet Earth. Which was starting to look more like the moon as the climate changed completely and horizon started to come to an end. We feared at one moment that we were perhaps lost and just then as we discussed weather to turn back or carry on above our heads soaring between the mountain was a beautiful eagle with its wind span sweeping the snowy peaks. I turned to Bernie and said “The American Indians believe if you see a bird of prey you know you are going in the right direction.” Needless to say just over the hill we say a small cluster of 3 tea houses and knew we were not far from our final destination.
The incredible and awesome sight coupled with the altitude and sense of achievement when we reached Everest Base Camp silenced me.
The glaciers were majestically soaring up in the sky shards of ice covering the foot of the greatest mountain in the world.
A mountain which has taken so many lives but has made so many people live.
When you are on top of the world nothing can bring you down.
My mind was emptied and for some silent moment I had a euphoric feeling of contentment. It made me think about the meaning of contentment and realise the contentment and happiness are both momentary feelings. Nothing last forever including love as we all die and it does not live on after we are gone. So for that moment I felt a blissful freedom and contentment.
This was until I tried to do my times tables and could not manage so properly I decided after realising neither Bernie or myself were able that we should start our descent back through the ever changing terrain or Everest.
There was a moment while we walked along The Khumbu Glacier which is located in the Khumbu region of northeastern Nepal. The Khumbu Glacier is followed for the final part of the trail to Everest Base Camp. The actual start of the glacier is in the Western Cwm of Everest itself. Khumbu Icefall is on the southern slopes of Mount Everest; the glacier itself is between Mount Everest and Lhotse-Nuptse ridge. At this moment I produced our bandana which for the most part of our journey we referred to. We did have a map incidentally which en route back down we gave to a Chinese explorer who like us looked fairly unprepared for the conditions and path ahead. And as karma would have it we met a Lukla airport as due to the extreme weather conditions the authorities declared a no flight zone for 3 days!
And as a result of an avalanche there were NO PHONE LINES which meant. No bank machines, which meant no food in fact in meant NO NOTHING! Until the Chinese explorer literally bumped into us….. he gave us back our map, paid our tax money and gave us some sweets and a much needed cigarette.
I sat in the mist and cloud on the side of the runway in the airport literally on the side of a mountainous cliff and for the first time in years cried. I am not sure if they were tears of frustration, anxiety, ore of the challenge, excitement or extreme gratitude but they rolled down my face and I asked God for help. I thought as I was still so high far above the clouds I was effectively whispering in his ear and asking to get me off the mountain. This is not because I feel closer to God or because the next thing I knew there was a commotion in the airport and before my watering eyes the clouds started to lift but within 2 hours we were on a mountain plane not quite smiling but thanking God for taking us home.
Through out my journey I read 2 books The first and because “when in Rome” I read The Wisdom Teachings of The Dalai Lama and The second Eat, Pray, Love. A much anticipated and hugely recommended book. While reading the book Eat Pray Love I thought wait a second I could give this book a run for it’s money! Try Everest, Safari, Meditation Retreat.!!!! So I will now start a new section as they both deserve pages of their own and explain how I broke out of the yoga retreat and found myself riding an elephant in alligator infested waters in Chitwan rainforest. Yet another “my insurance certainly wouldn’t cover this moment!”