The Sherpa of Sherpas

Dawa is the name given to Buddhists born on Monday. In Swahili it means medicine man. In Arabic it means medicine. He’s been guiding these treks for ages. Doling out advice medicine to those who are willing to accept it.

Today I am the fortunate one on the receiving end. The key that Dawa hands me is so elegantly simple. He tells me you must stop worrying at what’s ahead. Once in a while stop and look behind you. Look at what you have accomplished. At how much you’ve climbed. You will see. The trek gets easier that way. Looking ahead all the time can be discouraging.

Good words to live by.

I put his advice to work. Got up. And started walking. One step after the other. Slowly. Deliberately. The time flew. The miles passed. My body was adjusting. My breathing was steady. I wasn’t gasping as much. I stopped once in a while. Looked up and out and all around. And I made sure to look back. It gave me the drive to continue.

Sometimes we are so focused on goals that we miss out on the journey. I’ve heard this a thousand times. But never on the edge of cliff. From an unassuming Sherpa. Surrounded by walls of surreal beauty.

We are approaching the Everest Overlook Tea House. We’ll be spending the night there. It’s a large complex with 117 rooms. A nice big dining room. And a big courtyard for those who want to pitch a tent. Normally, this time of year, it would be on a wait list, but today we are it.

The part of the trail leading to it tests my ankles. Jagged rocks. Ditches. Sand on smooth rocks making it slippery and dangerous. And although Dawa’s advice changed everything. It didn’t turn the trek into a walk in the woods. The struggle definitely continues.

The tea house lives up to its name. It has a post card view of Mount Everest. We are greeted by the owner and his wife and their little shaggy white dog with a pink bow.

The owner’s name is also Dawa. And get this. He has summited Everest 8 times. He is the Sherpa of Sherpas. The man looks like a stick figure made of strong copper wire. He is fit as fit gets. No more than 5 feet 8. And a welcoming smile that can melt the snow.

He says with the most ridiculous measure of humility. I only summit the north side. The south side is too dangerous. His wife wants him to stop.

The tea house is large and empty and dark and very very cold. And I am dreading the thought of using the toilet. He shows me to my room and its cold too. He opens the curtain and bam! Mount Everest is staring at me. With all its glory. Right from my window. Wreaths of clouds are surrounding it. It is dark gray with a snowy outline. Flanked by the twins Lhotse and Nuptse. Some rays of light are able to pierce through the moving clouds. Giving it a magical feel and making it a sight to behold. And I am lucky enough to be its beholder today.

Tonight I will be getting the best sleep since I arrived here. I feel content and looking forward to tomorrow where we head to Dingboche. I feel great and confident but slightly worried. The air is getting thinner and I am feeling a bit wheezy at this altitude. I will push as far as my lungs allow me. And continue listening to the crows.

Nemaste!

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