Another great day! We hiked up to Namche Bazaar. It was about 5.5 hours of hiking with a stop for lunch. I am still stunned by the views. We are getting closer to the huge mountains, so when we turn a corner I may see a snow-covered craggy peak in the distance. There are layers. I see the rising trail in front of me and another range of steep, but rounded and green rises. Then maybe 2 or 3 more layers like that followed by the snowy and rocky mountain presiding over them all. I think of the gnarled fingers and spine of an old man. He is an old eagle-like figure with a beak nose and beady eyes keeping a watch over everything below. According to Nowong (our guide) the Sherpa people have a name for the mountain that means Mother Bird. Nepali people call it Sagarmatha- Goddess of the Sky. Tibetan people have a name that means Goddess of the World. The name “Everest” is the namesake of a white European explorer, George Everest. I like thinking of the mountains as revered women rather than grumpy old men.
Nowong leaves us the day after tomorrow and we are very sad. Thea, me, Nowong, and Yelgin feel like a family playing cards together. Nowong taught us a game called Jude-Apati. This family busts our butts up the mountains. Well, it may be easy for Nowong.
In this photo is my familiar view, Thea with Nowong in lead.
There are many more Europeans here than Americans: French, English, Spanish, German, and Swedish. There are also lots of Chinese people. Thea and I hang out with Nowong and Yelgin the most. I don’t know why I don’t feel comfortable approaching many others so far. Maybe it is because they are all older and in large groups. We did meet a British couple at lunch briefly yesterday, Gemma and Rick. I think Gemma is suffering from altitude sickness. I overheard them talking to their guide in the lodge. The lodges are nice here. They are small and simple, but suited to our needs. The toilets don’t flush well, so there are buckets of water to dump in the bowl. I took a hot shower today- it felt glorious! I do think I used up the rest of the hot water so there was none left for Thea. The water is heated by the sun in big buckets on the roof, so when it’s gone, it’s gone. Sorry Thea!
Namche is a tiny city built into the side of the mountains. Buildings are made of perfectly cut stone that I am curious whether they are cut up here or brought up. I think they are cut or chiselled here since I saw a man chiselling stone to build one such neatly built building yesterday. I am in awe thinking about how all the things we are surrounded by that aren’t wood or stone had to be carried up here. We pass many of these men carrying loads that Thea and I think weigh between 100-200 pounds.
These photos show the way Namche is built into the side of the mountain. In the middle is Nowong leading us up the steep and narrow paths of the city. On the right is a beautiful structure built for water.
I just had so much fun playing Jude-Apati with Nowong, Yelgin, and Thea. Nowong taught us the game and when he had a winning hand (or was trying to trick us into thinking that he did) his face lit up in a way I haven’t seen before. I felt that he looked so young, perhaps that is the effect of feeling joyful. It is so nice to share moments like this with two people who were strangers two days ago, who come from different cultures, and with which we sometimes struggle with language barriers. It struck me that even though we struggle with language barriers we are still able to find common interests and to make eachother laugh. I can’t do that with some people I do share a language and culture with. We hope to have a similar dynamic with our new guide, Angkayla.