Getting the key to finding your mojo.
It’s 5:30 am. I am sitting upright in my bed just plain miserable. It is still dark outside. My sad excuse for sleep was horrible. 3 hours tops. Drinking 4 cups of obviously well caffeinated milk tea before bed. Dogs barking all night long. Cold feet (literally). 4 legged creatures walking on the roof above my head. Anxiety about what Dawa called the most “challenging” day ahead. I was a mess.
My room looks like an angry teenager lives here. I had unpacked my duffel bag looking for things and started pulling stuff out and one thing led to another and pretty soon I was on the verge of a breakdown trying to find a nail file.
Then there is the “hot” shower that I decided to finally take. I’ll spare you the excruciating details. But calling it a hot shower is an insult to cold. My body shivered and shimmied like a dancer at the Copa Cabana on New Year’s Eve. The rest of the details are too gruesome to go into.
It is 6:30 now. I wash my face with that toe curling water. Get dressed. And down I go to the dining room where Dawa is there with his full cheerful self. How was your night he asks. I share with him the cliff note version. That was enough for him to panic a little. He didn’t tell me that but I could feel it. He probably started making plans for a helicopter.
I am eating my muesli and hot milk and sipping my barista latte. I fill up with water and off we go.
It is now 8. The trail leading out of the tea house to the end of Namche Bazzar is not a joke. It’s a staircase that goes on and on and on and on. And just when you think there were no more ons another on shows up. By the time we got out of the town I was ready for a lunch break! It is now 8:45!
The next few km were pretty even walking. A nice roll. My spirit begins to recover. I settle into my self again. The sun is bright. The mountains are unfolding in front of me. Layers and layers of nature’s power. The trail is wide and very comfortable. I am in a state of denial about what is about to come up. But denial is a beautiful thing to summon at these moments.
In the distance, Dawa points out that we will be stopping there for lunch. There is the Milky River snaking through the valley. The small village he points to is several hundred meters below where we are. I am thrilled. Its about a 3 hour hike and it’s pretty much all downhill.
Then he points to the mountain behind the lunch break spot. You see that zig zag going up. That’s where we go after lunch. Up up up. I make an audible gulp and off we trek.
At every turn we encounter heaven. I am still in denial, remember. We are the only ones on the trail with the exception of a few locals going about their daily business. We come to a tea house on the side of the trail. The owner, a young woman, is standing by with a smile as big as the mountain behind her. Her little tiny daughter is peering behind. She has the reddest apple cheeks and she can’t get any cuter. We stop for a quick coffee. And it’s delicious. Where do they hide these baristas I wonder?
We encounter a traffic jam on the way to the lunch spot. A few rows of yaks pass by carrying supplies. We are sitting having lunch and Milky River is within arms reach. Again we are the only customers. I order boiled potatoes and eggs. I needed the energy and the protein. These little tea houses all serve the same exact food from the same exact menu. There are more items on those menus than at Denny’s. Things like pizza, chicken fingers, cheeseburgers complete with mouth watering photos. But actually there are only 4 items that should be ordered. If you ever deiced to do this trek, do not be lulled into believing there is wood burning oven waiting for you to order your pizza. If you do, you are an arrogant fool. The only items you should order are potatoes of any style. These folks know their potatoes. Fried, boiled, stew, you name it. Dal Bhat. Noodle soups. And muesli. Period.
We are done with lunch and we are heading to the zig zag. We cross a metal bridge making way for the yaks before us. They get priority. I do not want to be in front of those horns. Then the climb begins. It is zig after zag for… well forever. The air is thinner than I am used to. We are at 11,500 feet. I am taking a few steps and stopping. Rinse. Repeat. I am pissed and tired and angry. I am mad at the “hot” shower. At the lack of sleep. At the caffeine I drank when I should have known better. At the nail file that caused me so much stress. And I am losing my mojo.
Dawa recognizes this. He sits me down on some well placed rocks and in his Yoda way hands me the key that changes everything.