Making the Best of a Bad Situation — Part One
Hello everyone, Namaste!
I hope everyone back home is doing well and excited to see their loved ones returning from the Everest Base Camp Trek in Nepal. In classic Madness style we switched gears after the earthquake and had a week to make the most of our time in this wonderful country.
On 28 April we woke to knocks on our doors at Camp de Base Lodge in Namche Bazaar. Our staff served us tea before a breakfast of porridge, bacon and eggs, and fresh toast. On the walk down, everyone felt some relief to leave the town where we’d experienced the earthquake. We soon arrived in a village called Chhoplung, about an hour below Lukla. We made this village our last stop before flying out to avoid the chaos of tourists booking flights and getting stressed out above us. After a nice dinner and card games we all went to bed in our comfortable rooms.
The Mountain Madness team leaving Namche Bazaar.
Our staff was working on flights and we knew we would be sitting for a couple days, but there was plenty to keep us occupied. After breakfast the next morning, we walked with our sherpas to their home village of Chauriekharka to survey the damage to their homes. Those houses not completely destroyed still have severe structural damage to the foundation, walls and roofs, and are uninhabitable. It is awful to think they will be living outside under tarps during monsoon season as they will not be able to rebuild their homes in time.
The housing situation in villages.
A local woman looks at her destroyed home.
Dawa and his wife invited us to the yard outside their house, where they cooked a delicious lunch in the rain over an open fire for the team. We feasted on the best momos I’ve ever had, as well as potato pancakes. For braver team members than I, there was chang — a local spirit brewed from millet or rice that has an extremely “unique” flavor. It was quite humbling to have Dawa and his wife prepare us this feast in the rain and to hear their enduring laughter despite the circumstances.
Best. Momos. Ever.
The rest of the afternoon and evening we relaxed and made plans for the following day.
The 30th of April was wedding day for Erik and Jen! Although they had originally planned to tie the knot on top of Kala Pattar near Everest at 18,500 feet, they decided “What the hell, let’s do it here.” After breakfast we all hiked to the Buddhist monastery in the hills above us. A local Buddhist lama traveled in to bless their union inside the monastery. Then we went out on the steps where Hal, our awesome Canadian team member, officiated the English ceremony and Jen and Erik exchanged vows. A goal was still achieved, and the team was in great spirits to witness a new start for a wonderful pair of friends we had come to love over the preceding weeks.
The monastery where Erik and Jen married. Stewart Wolfe photos
After that we headed down to our lodge in Chhoplung. Some team members relaxed, while others went with me to Lukla to try to obtain internet to no avail. We still had a nice time eating pastries, drinking coffee, and playing pool. A relaxing evening back at our lodge with fresh smoked salmon from Seattle that Madness provided almost concluded the evening – that is, until a batch of rakshi showed up with our staff (kind of like sake and vodka distilled from rice). We all toasted the newlyweds and listened to music from a phone.
More to come…
~MM Leader Stewart Wolfe