Slowly, Slowly (What's Urdu for That?)... Back in Skardu, Pakistan

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August 21st 2019
Published: December 12th 2019
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Sleeping at:Skardu

Day: 22

Slept OK, it was strange having more noise around again- the sounds that villages produce, roosters, calls to prayer, continued coughing noises and more artificial light (the camp area light was shining bright all night). We have our final breakfast together- the food has been replenished- granola is back, honey is back, NUTELLA is back! Say goodbye to Juma, Danny and Lynton before finding our jeeps. I feel for them having to go straight back onto the trail again without a single day off. Their new buddies will be fresh and dying to get going. It has been decided that we will be going back with the Irish group so we get divied up accordingly- I'm travelling with Ali the horseman, the Irish group's guide (can't remember his name), Anthony and Mary. Bouncy trip back along the same road, interrupted once an hour and a half in to the drive to clear a rockfall. Bit exciting. This kind of scenery never gets old. An hour and a bit later we stop at the same little resto with the beautiful garden and have a cup of chai and loo break before continuing on. It's still early so the decision is made to aim for Shigar for lunch. But first..... there is the most wonderful unexpected stop.... an apricot orchard. The trees are heaving, we all pile out and start picking- apparently it is on free land so everyone can help themselves. It's a treat to be eating warm apricots straight off the tree, soooo beats tinned cherries! We got to Shigar at about 13:00 and are led to a restaurant with tables out the back. Shigar looks interesting- lots of really old buildings, fascinating doors, etc- it's on our agenda for the next part of the trip so will get to have a good look around. Feel decidedly scruffy as we are served a feast of chicken curry, curried veges, really excellent chappatis, SALAD!!!! (I figure my gut can handle pretty much anything now so get stuck into the salad without a care in the world!) and soft drinks. Have a good chat then we load back into the jeeps, absolutely stuffed to the gills with lunch and apricots. Luckily there are no more bumpy bits- could be messy. Mary gets a bit quiet.

Arrived back at the Mashebrum by about 14:30. Pay the driver
Apricot FestApricot FestApricot Fest

Our Irish friends. We all had about a kg bag to take away - delicious
tips, very efficiently organised by our Irish friends. It's been really nice to have met them and have a place to visit should I ever get to Dublin. We get allocated our rooms and reclaim the luggage from the store room- we are on the very top floor this time. Very cool lugging the stuff up the stairs and not being out of breath. Mary barely makes it through the door before collapsing on the bed, she's feeling pretty dreadful again. Make her drink some water and swallow some Panadol and more antibiotics (her course finished a couple of days ago). Hopefully a sleep will help. It's always a bit weird coming off a trek- the excitement of having a shower and putting clean gear on is on your mind but when I actually sit in the dusty chair next to the dusty coffee table complete with cigarette butt it's not such a priority. Go take advantage of the connectivity and check in with home.

After half an hour of completely not being able to convey the absolute grandeur and stellar experience it has all been it is now time to hit the "shower". It would seem that the entire Irish group and our group have probably all beaten me to it as there is not a single drop of hot water, not even a drop of tepid water- it's glacially cold. Now that I've stripped off I just take a big breath and make do, the drain is at serious risk of clogging as a bucket of dust and grime sluices off. Equally as shocking as the glacial water is the weight loss! It is such an upside of trekking for me! I estimate about 4-5 kg, significant fat loss, clothes hanging off a bit- awesome! I always feel better lighter and leaner, unfortunately I also love eating sweet stuff so it only ever lasts a few months. Enough about me. Mary? Still asleep restlessly moving from time to time. Go downstairs looking squeaky clean with fresh clean clothes to discuss the hot water situation and they assure me it'll be hot in 2 hours. Downstairs I catch up for a final time with the Irish (all having had gloriously hot showers) and luckily, our guide (Kareem) for our new trip starting in the morning. Give him the heads up on Mary's current state and exchange What'sApp details- he seems like a nice guy- used to be a pharmacist! Handy! So, now what to do.... the washing...obviously . The security man (very friendly) escorts me to the shop nearby to buy some washing powder- 10c a packet. Bargain! The front desk guy brings up a pot of tea- washing clearly is thirsty work. Mary is still asleep. Get the washing done and hung out on the balcony and drink the entire pot of tea. Sit. Mary is still asleep. Hot water still absent. Go downstairs and report this- the dusty phone on the dusty coffee table is just a decoration. Many apologies, another pot of tea and a large plastic bucket of boiling water appears 5 mins later (a very sweet gesture!). Mary wakes up and says she feels better (I don't believe her), she drinks half the tea and has a hot water bucket shower which she declares is superb- best ever, and after topping up on a/b's and Panadol promptly goes back to bed (not better).

We have planned to meet as a group at the K2 restaurant near to Gen's hotel. I debate as to whether I should go but Mary assures me I should. I do go (hoping it has been the right decision) and we have a great catch up with Fernando and Chisato - watch the video of their helicopter evacuation- 2 helicopters at USD $15 000 each and a medical checkup with full X ray series for about $12! Great meal at the K2- french fries, chicken, etc. Final goodbyes as everyone is catching the dawn flight back to Islamabad. When I get back to the hotel Mary is still sleeping but unwell. I wake up frequently because she's not coughing and I've gotten so used to the coughing that it's absence is alarming. Ah, what to do... decide we have to go to the hospital tomorrow. I'm thinking pnuemonia.

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