Edit Blog Post
Published: June 24th 2013
I know it's just physics, but it always amazes me how fast one can descend after a strenuous hike. Sometimes I glance back at what I had just done and cannot believe I’d just gone up “that”. Although we’d taken 3 days off the hike on the descent, it was still a long day down to Namche, where we ended up at the same hostel. I was genuinely glad to see my new proprietor friend again and we made another late night of it, with homemade Raksi this time – a Nepali wine fermented from rice. It was quite good and we were joined this time by a Sherpa guiding an Australian up to Island Peak.
“I haven’t had a drink since the last time I was here,” I remarked as we began the night's compotation. The proprietor answered that he’d been drinking every day since I was last there – I instantly knew where this would take me.
“Here, have a chili,” the proprietor offered. The Sherpa warned me that it was spicy, to which the proprietor answered, “No worry. He Nepali.”
I ate the chili while the Nepalese talked amongst
themselves for some time; they then began laughing raucously. I asked what was so funny.
“Oh, nothing,” answered the Sherpa, who had initially begun the story. I knew then that it was probably about tourists, but wanted to ensure it wasn’t about me, so I curiously queried further.
“Nothing, he just talk about tourists,” answered the proprietor.
“What about them?”
“Oh, sometimes we do not understand what they do.”
“Like what?” They began speaking to each other in Nepali again while I was poured another drink. I resumed my questioning with a different tact: “So, who are the best tourists?”
“Oh, Switzerland. That easy. They mountain people. They understand the mountain and things that can happen in mountains. They easy to guide. Germans are good too. They understand and walk good. Israeli good too. Patient.”
“Who are the worst?” I asked.
“That easy too – the French. Always complain about everything. Never stop talking. Complain, complain…”
I was becoming more intrigued: “What about Americans?”
“Like the French – complain a
lot. But good thing about American is that he set everything. Everything is clear. Everyone understand deal, what he want, don’t want, what to do and see. Very clear. Also they tip good.”
I wasn’t too surprised to hear that, then asked, “What about Polish?”
“Like French too, but not so much. Complain. But drink a lot and have fun.”
I quizzed him about a few other countries when the Sherpa finally broke in with his story.
“I take French group to Island Peak. When they send me first email, it say…,” he paused struggling to find the word, “…it say from people with plastic leg, arm…”
“Prosthesis,” I interrupted.
“Yes, ‘prosthesis’. The group was something French Prosthesis. I did not know word ‘prosthesis’. I pick them at airport and learn what word mean when group of 10 get off plane. They all have prosthesis leg.”
“Wow,” I said astonished. “And they were going to Island Peak?”
“Yes, but they pay deposit, so I have to take them. And they walk very good. After one day
I no worry no more. We make it to beginning of Island Peak no problem. Then we have to climb a little bit, a little technical, but there problem now: no one can bend leg correct and cannot climb.”
“Oh, my God,” I said. Ok, I know I shouldn’t laugh: it is dreadfully impolite. But I couldn’t help myself just then, and found consolation in Aristotle’s thoughts on what we find funny. Wouldn’t you do a little research before going – and paying a lot of cash doing so – to make sure you could do it? What was going through their heads? What a self-inflicted tragedy.
“I sometime no understand tourist,” the Sherpa ended his story. My night ended on that story and I went up to bed. After relaying it to Klaudia, she admonished me for laughing, but I found it even funnier because they were French. I know… What a jerk…
We stayed an additional day in Namche and hung out with two Germans and a Canadian we’d earlier met in Tengboche while heading up to Base Camp - everyone’s following the same itinerary for the most part,
so it’s not uncommon to continuously run into the same people at various times in various places. We ate well, had some beers and Chaang, played cards, and visited a couple bakeries – one had great pizza.
The next day was another long one down to Lukla: it snowed and/or rained most of the way. Once we’d reached Lukla, we spent the night there in a little bit of precarious worry when our flight was not confirmed. Since he worked at the airport, I believed Pikay when he’d said that he reserved the flight for us with a friend at an airport travel agency. Unfortunately, that was not the case.
We made it to the friend’s travel agency right when it was closing, and he confidently assured us that he had a ticket for us for 8 am the next morning. However, later in the night, while we were having coffee at a fake Starbuck’s (yes, the sign said “Starbuck’s”, and they even had mugs with the logo, but the coffee shop was in no way associated with the franchise), Pikay and the travel agent came by to tell us that he did not
have a ticket for us, except possibly a one-engine plane. Perhaps our fear was unwarranted, but we really wanted at least two engines. So, we quickly realized that the only option was to sit tight and stay another day if we had to; luckily, the next day came with great weather, so there were plenty of flights out instead of the usual two or three - and with the help of JG, his Spaniards, and some other Sherpas harassing all the travel agents available at the aiport - we caught the second to last flight. Things worked out in the end.
It was a great trip and I was extremely sad to leave. I can’t wait to get back soon.
Tot: 2.292s; Tpl: 0.051s; cc: 8; qc: 52; dbt: 0.0406s; 2; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.4mb