-- April 8, 1:10 PM: Kathmandu
has been a visual, cultural, and logistical overload
for the first 24 hours! Acclimatized now to this
amazing place, let me try to describe it to you....
flight to Kathmandu was comparatively fast and
relaxed. The service by Thai Airlines was wonderful
and a great introduction to the friendly Nepalese. I
was fortunate to share a seat with a woman from Tacoma
who has lived in Kathmandu for the past eight years.
She came to trek and stayed falling in love with and
marrying a Tibetan Lama who is now becoming quite high
in the ranks of the practice. He was with her and so
were their three beautiful children who all had brand
new Nike shoes on purchased as gifts from grandmother
who vacationed with them for two weeks in Bangkok. It
turns out they were also very good friends with Tashi
and Nancy Sherpa (our agent for the Expedition here in
were greeted first by non-communicative customs agents
and then by a hoard of porters who all wanted to help
carry our bags for a tip, of course. We made quite a
scene as our 14 70-pound boxes came off the baggage
ramp followed by our 12 70-pound duffle bags. The 15
or so porters scrambled for carts and some could not
even lift the bags. We were to proceed through a
customs inspection but it was such a circus that the
inspectors just said "just go, just go".
people met us outside, chased off the porters and took
over...none too soon. We proceeded to the Kathmandu
Guest house through the very crowded streets in a van
with the moon roof large enough stand up and take an
Hotel is very pleasant. We all checked in, moved the
bags to storage and met in the court yard for a
celebratory beer and lunch. The picture is taken of us
at our table. Then we turned our attention to meeting
with Tashi, inspecting the equipment, meeting all our
Team members from this end and making arrangements for
the communications from the trek.
is a confidence inspiring leader who was checking our
credibility as much as we were checking out his. Since
the dinner with Hillary fell through (much to our
disappointment, we worked on all the details well into
the night. Tents and oxygen bottles were well
inspected and the logistics for the journey were
reviewed and confirmed.
met our three Sherpa and reviewed their resumes as
Tashi looked on with pride for "his boys" as
he refers to them. We also met and shook hands with
our cook. And clean hands they were! After all this we
went for a meal, then I went to bed and gave new
meaning to the word "crashed".
of us toured and took photos at the "monkey"
temple early this morning at first light. The air was
full of the smells of a Buddhist temple and the
countless streamers of prayer flags coupled with the
richness of the smiles on the faces of worshipers may
have produced some great pictures. At least the light
was very soft and it was too early for the real crowds
so we got to shoot to our hearts' content.
in the morning we were whisked away to a Tibetan Lama
for a traditional blessing of our Expedition. but more
about that in the next dispatch since I must close now
for a meeting with the Ministry of Tourism to make
everything finally official. Bureaucracy takes on a
different meaning when you are as anxious as I am to