Seeing is believing.
I worry that I’ve seen too much. The beauty of everything around me can be overwhelming. I am in a constant state of awe. I worry about how the world will look when this ends in less than 10 days. For now, I am setting that worry aside and will cross that bridge if I ever get there. For now there is much more to process.
I am sitting in bed at 5 am after a good night’s rest. This is the most sleep I’ve had since I arrived in Nepal. I feel good. No altitude sickness. No shortness of breath. No nausea or disorientation. Just plain bliss. I am propped on my pillow imagining the day ahead.
Today will be another day to climatize. We will be ascending 1000 meters above Namche Bazzar. There, we will visit a Japanese Tea House and the earth’s most spectacular patio with a straight on view of Mount Everest. Then descend back. Nothing like double work! Climatizing requires retracing your steps in order to nudge your body into submission. Besides there is a special treat at the end of this climb.
It is now 6:30 and I am hearing movement. The family that owns the tea house we are staying in, lives here. I need a shower. Badly. Once again I decide to forgo it. I throw water on my face so cold that it makes my toes curl and further confirms that a shower was a bad idea anyway. I am wide awake.
At 7 I make my way to the dinning room. It was nice not to have to pack this one day. We’ll be spending another night here.
Dawa is already waiting. The sunlight is piercing through and the tea house is full of light. I order my muesli and hot milk. I scarf it down followed by a latte worthy of a Seatle barista. Now, I’m even more awake. Dawa tells me that we need to get to the Everest overlook before clouds move in. The weather changes quickly on these mountains. He added that I need to bring lots of water. That worries me. This is the first time he has hinted at hydration. Besides I’ve never seen this man take one sip of water the entire time.
The overlook is a straight up rocky zig zagging ladder. I am having to stop to catch my breath every 30 seconds. I am sucking water like a damn race horse. Dawa was right. My steps are heavier. My breathing has now turned into prolonged gasps.
At every turn, this hellish ladder offers overlooks that take your breath away (pun intended). But seriously I could die right here and be content. It abruptly gives way to a balding grassy field with never ending views of heaven. We pass an abandoned landing strip. A modern recycling center that sits in the middle of nowhere and is so random it made me chuckle. Then we turn to a dangerously narrow winding path along a ridge to get to the other side. The path leads to another open field with a grove of snow decorated pine trees and about an inch covering beneath. Again, this gives me pause. There is hardly any snow anywhere else. These trees are postcard perfect with clumps of snow at the end of every limb. Further down, I get my first glimpse of a yak. They’ll be many more along the way to Base Camp.
We finally reach our destination, the Japanese Tea House. It is a swanky resort with a teak wood grand entrance, large glass windows, and an elegance that feels a bit over the top (pun intended again). There is even a grand piano in the center of the lobby. It occupies a jetting ridge that points dead center to Mount Everest. Arguably the best real estate on earth!
This is also the mother of all patios. Under a different circumstance, this place would be normally humming during this time of year. Today however, there are 4 other people to share it with. A Czech, 3 Nepali trekkers and a handful of the ubiquitous crows. Everyone is focused on the main attraction. We are all there to take in this visual orgy.
The weather is glorious. Full on sunshine. There are more peaks in every direction than a merengue pie. Each one more spectacular than the other. Most are snow covered and donut ringed with clouds. The closer ones have snowy veins slicing through them all the way to the valley. On some there are water falls frozen still. Dawa points out Mount Everest. I have to squint to see it. From this distance, Everest is dwarfed by the closer ones. It sits in the middle of two respectable mountains, Lhotse and Nuptse. Together they form the Everest massif. This morning Everest is half visible with clouds covering the East exposure. This changes with each blink.
I am giddy inside. The mountains are pulling me in and I am not resisting. My breathing slows down and I sit along with Dawa and the 4 trekkers sipping tea and grateful to have lived long enough to see this wonder. The crows stare at me, then give out a shriek and soar off.