We found out even more information this morning about the avalanche that hit Base Camp. Actually a second avalanche hit and if I understood right (and if the information given to us is accurate) most tents at Camp 1 got wiped out and 7 people were injured. Who knows though if the information traveling through towns is accurate?
It rained again and we were drenched wet when we reached Phakding for lunch (Phakding is where we had spent our first night in the Khumbu). After a warm meal and feeding some horses that were waiting for us outside we got back on the trail for the last part of our journey. I can't believe two days ago we were still up there, on silent barren and fallow land, whereas everything is so lush here and kids are running on the trails among trekkers and yaks to get to school
. I felt sad, very sad. It was our last day hiking. Instead of going at our own speed we tried to stay somewhat together and we chatted a lot. I spent some time alone as I needed some silence too. As I was having a lively conversation with Deana she tripped over a rock and injured herself. She was almost knowcked out. She could not stand up. I waited beside her and 20 minutes later Dawa arrived. Deana told me not to wait for her and keep going. I started hiking again alone and half an hour later met up with Rob, Roger and John who were in a state of weird excitement. I was going to let them know about Deana's injury but they were talking to me, to each other at the same time and it took me half a minute to understand what was going on. We were standing up on a hill and from there could see a quite long length of the trail. In the middle of the trail was a prayer wall. If you remember what I had mentionned before, we are supposed to pass any buddhist shrine on the right. So if someone is going up and another person is going down and they pass a shrine at the same time, they would not see each other since one would be on one side and the other person on the opposite side. Now, a little background story to explain the weird excitement of the three men: Martha had told us a few times during our two weeks together that she had a "friend" who was arriving in the Khumbu days or maybe a week after us. Her "friend" doesn't know Martha is in Nepal trekking to Base Camp and Martha didn't want her to know for various reasons
. Martha had described the girl to us and had told us her name (Jena). We had joked numerous times about the odds of meeting her on the trail and how funny it would be if they saw each other which Martha was hoping would not happen.
When I joined the guys, they had just seen THE girl! Or at least at that point they were pretty sure that was her based on the description, age, who was with her etc. I had just passed her on the trail and as we're watching her going down the trail we see Martha as well! Believe it or not, we saw Martha and the girl passing the shrine at the exact same time so they didn't see each other. As soon as Martha reached us we told her about what had just happened. We could still see the girl from far on the trail and Martha yelled "Jena" out of her lungs and the girl turned her head. That was her! But she didn't see where the yelling came from and she kept going. I still can't believe the whole scene. If I ever become a movie director I'll have to include it in a movie somewhere...
We waited for Deana to arrive with Dawa. Her hand did not look good and she did look to fresh either. I think I saw her hitting a rock with her arm and her hand, maybe she touched a nerve?
John and I somehow ended up hiking together all the way back to Lukla. Long day... each time we were passing a village I was wondering whether it was Lukla
. Phakding is below Lukla in elevation so we arrived in Lukla pretty tired. I saw some adorable kids jumping in the puddles. Straight in it, two feet! It made me want to be a kid again. Our legs were tired, we were tired. Lukla is a pretty big town and we knew our lodge was near the small airport so John and I headed in that direction until we saw Dawa running after us. The group had decided to stop by "Starbucks" which we had passed ten minutes before. So we turned around and waited for the rest of the group in the strangest Starbucks of all times...
It is not a real Starbucks but it is called Starbucks and they did a pretty good job with the fake logo. I'll upload a picture and you'll have to take a look at the mountain inside the logo. They serve coffee, tea, cakes, cookies just like at Starbucks...Dawa and Pemba especially enjoyed the special treats. They don't get to spend some relaxing time in a place like that. I loved seeing their big smiles. Pemba and I shared a cookie. I'm going to miss my little monkey so much. The two of us spent a lot of time together and we had a lot of fun despite the language barrier.
We then went to our lodge and dropped our backpacks in our rooms. The airport is right across the street so we should have to get up too early tomorrow.
We met with the porters, Dawa and Pemba in the dining room by the stove
. The guys got some beer for everybody (except for me, some things never change), we munched some more Nepali snacks and savored our last time as a whole team. For the first time we all had dinner together (I mean with the porters, Pemba and Dawa). We all ate Dal Bhat, the traditional Nepali lentil and rice based dish. Martha impressed all of us with her juggling skills, she is quite an entertaining performer! She juggled with raw potatoes and took bites at one of them while juggling until there was nothing left of the poor potatoe. We sang for our wonderful support team, first Hotel California and then Frere Jacques. Dinesh sang for us a traditional Nepali song that brought tears to Martha. Man Bahadur joined Dinesh and we were all mesmerized by their touching voices and their sincere expressive facial expressions. I filmed some of it with my camera and would be happy to share it with whoever is interested in watching this very emotional moment. We gave our gifts and tips to the porters and the sherpas. They were very touched. Martha and I had prepared some little packages with socks (valuable to them), candy bars, a card deck for each one of them, some bills in addition to the tip as a little surprise, all wrapped in a colorful bandana. It is going to be so hard to leave them tomorrow morning.
We spent the evening in a bar . We were the only customers and had lots of fun dancing to Michael Jackson, random pop music and Nepali songs. The guys played pool, we played darts, we danced some more... I passed out on a chair. It had been a long day. They woke me up and we all went back to the lodge late in the night. That was the last time we were with the entire team. :-(
Today was a very long day. The difference in elevation between Namche and Lukla is not that high (600 meters) but it goes up and down and up and down and up and down and up again...