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2002 American Manaslu Expedition

"Seeking the Spirit"

Day 3 -- April 8, 1:10 PM: Kathmandu

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....

Our 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 Kathmandu).

We 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".

Tashi's 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 occasional picture.

Photo of team in Kathmandu

The 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.

Tashi 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.

We 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".

Several 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.

Later 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 start trekking.

Tom Fitzsimmons


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