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American Manaslu 2002 Expedition 

"Seeking the Spirit"

April 11: First full day of trekking

From Mike: Incredible. The word for the day is incredible.  After reading so much about this experience, it seems surreal to actually be experiencing it.  I donít think that what I saw today is much different than what went through the eyes of Hornbein, Unsoeld and company back in í63. I woke up at around 5:00 AM and went out shooting photos along the river, and when I returned to our camp on the sandbar I noticed a train of local people running down the trail.  The porters, of which weíll need approximately one hundred, wanted to get to our camp and get their name on the list.  It is a bit strange to watch a one hundred pound woman humping seventy pounds of my gear using nothing more than a wicker basket and a tump line rigged across her forehead.

The cameras were overheating as Tom, Brian, Dan and I rushed around trying to capture the scene of our Sirdar, Nawang, negotiating porters and porter loads.  Several guys carried double loads Ė thatís one hundred and forty pounds.  The women here are beautiful and I burned two rolls just shooting portraits.  Iíll have hell to catch when I come home with two hundred and twenty eight shots of women and six shots of guys.  The beauty here has nothing to do with the extraverted Western concept, itís more of a look of serenity and strength combined with striking looks. We are all adjusting to the pace of Nepal and must remember that though the ox is slow, the Earth is patient.  We are waited on hand and foot; I better not get used to it.

Namaste.

From Tom: Today during the first full day of our trek we have been exposed to the real Nepal.  Villages, farms scraped out of steep hillsides, a school, lush green rice fields and a very special word . . . namaste.  With hands in prayer like fashion touching their chin . . . namaste.   Namaste . . . A simple word but in Nepali, it translates so much about a person as it is spoken on the trail.  Namaste.  Hello!  Greetings!  Hello and I wish you all the best all in the same word.

Young children, mothers with babies, hunched-back weathered and wrinkled-faced old ladies all say it.  And they really mean it.  You can tell because they look you right in the eyes as a smile erupts on their face.  It is a smile with such warmth behind it that it drives all the stress right out of you.

Namaste.  Everybody should have to say it once a day.  If they did, the world would be a much more kind and gentle place.

Today along a flat ridge as we headed down to the Ghali Gondaki River we saw Manaslu for the first time.  It is many namasteís away but we are solidly on our way.

From Scott: All I'd add (to the above) is that the people are truly incredible, friendly, strong people, and we are thoroughly enjoying every opportunity we have to interact with them (which is frequent).  Seven more days trek to base camp.  Another dispatch in a couple days.

Dispatches

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