originally part of training/fundraising for the Hepatitis C Trust's Nepal trek. Now, sporadic musings...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

rendezvous with our transport

Not exactly your standard stroll to the bus stop...

But still the closest thing to a proper road that we've seen since disembarking from the bus at Phaliya Sangu. We're all charmed to bits with the tinies trotting off to school in their immaculate uniforms (how do these people keep themselves and their clothes so pristine? They put me to shame...)

As Jeff said, 'Chicken in a basket'...

We follow the course of the Marsyangdi River...
And guess what? Yours truly gets separated from the rest... Jeff & Serge are up front; I can't keep their pace. The others have stopped for a comfort break.
Both 'sections' are out of sight.
On the road, our porters don't need to keep an eye on us.
I suddenly feel more vulnerable than at any point on the trek so far. I'm isolated from my companions, and our 'caretakers' are now concentrating on transporting our luggage. The road is the closest thing to 'busy' we've encountered since leaving Kathmandu, I'm wandering about in my usual dwam (easy target...) and I don't speak the language...
Plonker or what?
There's peaceful solitude and there's bloody stupidity.
Chastened, I close the gap.

striking our last camp

Like the cake from the previous night, our days of mountain trekking exist now only in memory and digital image...
Striking camp for the last time is bittersweet, flavoured with the triumph of what we all achieved with the help of Jeff and our wonderful porters, and with the sweet sorrow that today we leave these glorious mountains behind to return to Kathmandu.

I squeeze in another dawn dance meditation session before my fellow trekkers are up (I'd have to forgo sleep altogether to beat our porters!).
A permanent loo cubicle should feel like luxury - but it's made even less attractive than our travelling loo tent by the news that the shower cubicle abutting it has a resident scorpion. (I thought there were no nasty creepy-crawlies in Nepal, Jeff?)

Last breakfast 'in the field'.
Not much beats alfresco eating - except actually taking time to appreciate it...

Monday, April 16, 2007

Bhule Bhule - last camp

We are a source of amusement to the local population as we descend the last stretch of our 100km trek to our camp by the river side at Bhule Bhule.
Down, and down, and down, and down...
I have to say, the Heaven Guest House looks anything but heavenly! - no hardship to be under canvas again...
Our inexhaustible beer supply now comes into its own... With a chilled bottle of Everest beer clutched in my sweaty fist, I clamber down the river bank to ease my throbbing feet into the glacial water and sing my heart out into the roar of the racing torrent...

There's a real celebratory atmosphere at our last camp - not least because our porters bake us a congratulatory CAKE! As everyone turns in for the night, Sergio wants to check out any potential for nightlife at this popular spot for trekkers. I too, am curious.
We find a sort of tea-house-cum-bar close to the Heavenly Guest House. Dawa is ensconced with the Tibetan refugee women who were selling jewellery earlier; one, Tiri, treats me to a cup of tea. The ambience is the same as in hostelries the world over - this one may cling precariously to its foundations, and resemble a dilapidated front room - including cable tv in the corner - but only the music of the language pinpoints place.

goat bells, butterflies and helping hands

There are grazing animals on the slopes now, their tinkling bells our accompaniment as we stop for a breather. A butterfly lands on the stone of the resting stage; the team burst into song, the Nepali song which the schoolchildren sang to us. Jeff translates; my heart is fluttering like silk on the wind, I don't know whether to sit on top of the mountain or fly...

The terrain gets steeper again; testing achy knees.

Our path disappears - landslide. Our porters are unfazed; but most of us need extra help. I'm lucky to have Karna's strong clasp to guides me over the trickiest parts. His quiet strength seems to flow direct to my soul through the contact.

The slopes are changing; crop terraces once more in evidence.

continuing the descent

Group shots are taken to celebrate our successful wander up to the gateway of heaven.
If we were intrepid orchid hunters, we'd be richly rewarded...

The rainforest looks rather beautiful - but turns out to be an unexpected war-zone as leeches drop from the trees, slither up our poles, sneak through laceholes into our boots... The battle spoils enjoyment of this ancient landscape. By the time we reach a leech-free clearing to regroup and check the status of the battle lines, my levels of revulsion are so intense that I have to ask Tanka to help me eject the unwanted passengers curling around in my boots.

But the views remain unsurpassable, whatever challenges are thrown our way.

eventful camp

My first encounter with leeches... a lesson not to sit on the ground! The readily available beer supplies are once again too tempting to resist - and may help me sleep...

They don't.

Wakefulness provides the opportunity for reflective writing, awkward though that is in the tent (trying to read is challenge enough). My breathing is still a bit peculiar, but after Ventolin shakes at the start of our descent - which no doubt increased the physical tension magnifying knee troubles - I decide going without an inhaler is my best bet.

An early morning reiki session produces some very interesting visions. I feel I can no longer tolerate confinement in our tent, and wander to the outskirts of camp (um, it would seem that some lessons I can be a bit reluctant to take on board...)

Being a perennial rulebreaker may make me a pain in the arse at times - but it also bestows precious gifts. I find a space where I can see icecaps and the rolling foothils back towards Kathmadu. Going through the stretches of a dance meditation in the light of sunrise on the slopes of the Himalayas, having survived the challenge of climbing to a lake on the roof of the world... priceless.

If refusing to follow conventions (even when they're there for good reason) is such a bad thing, why is it so frequently intensely rewarding?

reunited with the group

Everyone is fine - just seething that I went AWOL, necessitating Jeff going back to camp to look for me.

It wasn't deliberate.

But I guess my earlier physical struggle is no longer evident, healed by bliss (albeit somewhat dissipated by anxiety at extended separation from the others).

The level of autonomy which is an integral part of my coping strategies translates to lack of consideration for the group.

Setting up an early camp today gives me some opportunity to smooth over the rifts.

at last - the descent from Bhara Pokari

The layers which are barely adequate to keep the cold out 'at rest' prove a trial as we begin the descent (which, predictably enough, involves an initial ascent). Breathless and sweating, I have to stop to remove various articles of extraneous clothing. My heart sinks as I watch the others disappear from sight - how will I keep up this pace?

Scrambling down the rocks that were such a challenge on the way up, trying to close the gap, the tension and fear in my body worsens the pain in my knees; I need to stop to swallow a couple of paracetamol. The panorama from this section goes as unnoticed as it was on the way up - all my concentration is in my feet as I slither over boulders, instructed by a slightly impatient Dawa, anxious that I am too slow. To combat being emotionally hassled by my limitations, Karna's quiet steady presence behind me is calming and reassuring.

The incline becomes less steep, moving onto wooded slopes, paths knarled with tree roots.

I can't explain what happens, but as I focus on following in surefooted Dawa's steps exactly, it's as if I literally slip into his wake. My tenseness disappears, I feel energised and light. Euphoric, in fact.

We reach the resting stage, site of my emotional overspill the previous day. Today, our porters are all here - but no sign of my fellow trekkers.

I worry that they may be looking for me, but Karna is dismissive. Just wait. They will catch up.
So we wait.
and wait...
and wait...
Maybe someone has had an accident...

Saturday, April 14, 2007


So many times over the last twenty years I've walked round this lake, picnicked by its shores... idyllic, studying romantic poetry in these spectacular surroundings...
Busy today; the banks populated with fishermen and their sprawling kits, the water host to flotillas of sailing dinghies, cars dotted around the perimeter, clumps of people strolling or picnicking...
A couple of very unexpected delights; pristine classics, a Hillman Minx and an Austin Seven - poetry comes in many guises!
There are times when solitude is not the ideal, but rather company you can relax in. Even a closet (!) fascist like me can admit it's good to share - with the right people. Having very spikily (and to my shame, somewhat spitefully at that) ascertained that there is in fact no agenda to Mike's generosity, I'm starting to relax and enjoy our friendship.

Sharing Shearwater, shortly followed by a shearing...
I finally acknowledged that yes, I do need to get what's left of my hair cut before it drives me completely balmy. Having made the decision - well, Ath's clippers were just too tempting...
Instant gratification has many payoffs as well as pitfalls. I feel lighter and freer.
Besides, it was such fun hacking off handfuls of unhealthy hair - sure beats binning nests of it at regular intervals throughout the day!

Heaven's Gate

Heaven's Gate.
The rhodedendrons are in bloom...
Heaven indeed to take a gentle stroll through the trees... The only downside the 'chattering classes' at the viewpoint over the Longleat estate - why are people unable to disengage their tongues for a few moments, and let their souls do the listening?

back to source...

Perception is all...
Four days of pampering - massages (no shopping, cooking or washing up - bliss!), gentle walks to soak up ocean views (strictly speaking, estuary views) and play with my camera, first daylight sighting of a fox, lazing around watching tv and chatting to mum... A spectacular sunset on the way home. Ocean, art, nature and a plethora of healing practices...
More abundance from the universe (enabled by Mr Witt)...
I guess if you're not on chemo, it could feel like we did 'nothing' - especially if hep C tx is one of those things nobody must ever know about... (bit risky with a gobshite like me involved, then).

Friday, April 13, 2007

major restorations

The blossom is unfolding on the tree outside the flat. Soon, its light froth will fill the kitchen window, obscuring the houses opposite. A perfect writer's retreat... and these last few days, I've been able to write again - at last!

Of course, now that I've had nearly three weeks of intensive nurturing and healing, I can see where the problem has been - not just a major scarcity of physical resources and time, but continuing to batter myself through work and treatment has resulted in soul deprivation. Not starvation (as the previous posts and the above sparkles from Lyme Bay testify to, thank you Mike!), but a shrivelling and dessication which has taken its inevitable toll on my health.
Now, all I have to do is continue the trend of restoration...

About Me

My photo
I began blogging during training for a trek in the Himalayas... several lifetimes ago. Currently working on my novel - in the tiny spaces left by a 50 hour plus working week...