I could actually feel the warm puff of air on my face from the donkey’s ass. There was no mistaking what had just happened. I’d paid the price for getting too close in this absurd traffic jam. Amongst the swirling dust clouds, reeking donkey piss & shit, garbage lined trail and cigarette smoke – I had also been farted on.
“What the hell is this?”, I whined to myself, “This is not the mountain environment or experience I want.” My mind saw only the negative. The night before I’d lain awake fully annoyed at the fact that some distant, soothing Buddhist chants had been drowned out by thumping Nepalese techno from the billiard hall next door. Yes, Himalayan billiard hall. I’d come for the Buddhist chants, not the modern intrusions into my idea of how Nepal should be.
I have spent a lot of time in this part of the world and know from experience that the key to staying sane is to forget about expectations, and to keep a good sense of humor. It was just day one of our sixteen day trek in the Everest region and we were still in the more populated lowlands while on the way to Namche Bazar, but already I was feeling some inner disturbance. I charged ahead through the flatulent donkeys, past the cigarette smoking, trash tossing Nepalese load carriers and broke away up the trail. Once off the front, I was able to walk alone to let my head settle down. My irritation stemmed from my perception of how I wanted it be vs. reality. I reminded myself that what it really is is what I came for, and will provide the experience that I will take away, depending on how I accept it. …Deep breath. Suddenly, I came around a corner into a clearing and there they were, my first glimpse of the giants. The view literally stopped me in my tracks.
My entire adult life, 25 years, have been spent playing, working and simply loving being in the mountains. The Himalaya are the mountain lover’s Mecca and I had just found myself at the threshold. Spread out before me were Lhotse, Nuptse and Sagarmatha – Everest.
With a huge grin and more than a few goosebumps, I put my head down, laughed at myself and with a clear head, continued walking. It is what it is.
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