Okay, I’m back at Peace Eye. New room, somewhere between the niceness of the two previous ones. Yesterday they were full, but Devendra here still arranged my room, just at the hotel across the road. It was fine, and I could even watch TV in the room, but outside my window was the courtyard of the hotel next door — loud from 5 am to midnight and occupied partially by a generator burning high-sulfur diesel. A hundred tv channels couldn’t make up for the lack of sleep and clearheadedness.
No plans for today or, really, for when to head back to Kathmandu, whether to do that just in time for my flight home or somewhat earlier. Raz, trekking guide, invited me to dinner in his home in Kathmandu, so if I get back early enough I will try to do that. Pokhara is just so much more pleasant, however, and my sole remaining task for this trip is to do some shopping, which can be done here as well as in the smelly capital.
One other idea is to fly to Jomsom for a night or two. Just a thought at this point.
So, back to telling the final bits of the trekking story. Even after posting that we were heading down, I almost changed my mind and kept going. Looking at the map, it seemed that we had ascended the most lengthy steep sections of the route. We were on top of a minor ridge at that point, and — understanding that this is a trail that has to descend and ascend regularly to cross streams and rivets — we were due basically to follow the current contour line upriver, that main river rising to meet the trail. From there, we would ascend alongside the river nearly until it reached its glacial source.
Damn this sickness, because in any other condition that is doable. The hard part was done, and all that was left was a day and a few hours of known, steady ascent. However, yesterday morning wasn’t greeted by a temporarily healed GI system as had been the previous one. We turned downhill, descending in around ninety minutes the steps that seemed interminable the day before. I was okay, partially because I knew the pain was to be very temporary.
After that descent, I lost the flow again and slowed dramatically again. I wasn’t feeling much worse than I had been on the initial part of the descent, but the hope of getting quickly to a road had been lost, so my stomach gained considerably more influence over how I was feeling.
Here was the problem, and I’ll edit this later with village names when I am upstairs with my map: Raz suggested we go by a lower route to a road than the one he had pointed out from the opposite side of the valley the day before. That sounded fine. He estimated it at an hour and a half to two, versus four to the other road. Great.
Problems arose when we got to where the road should have been, and it wasn’t there. It really wasn’t a big deal in retrospect, because even with my slow pace it only took three-and-a-half hours. But at the time, hearing every time we reached another village that the road was another half hour was more than a little demoralizing. Turns out the road was new, so neither Raz nor any of the other guides he talked to knew exactly how far it had been built up this valley.
Beyond being demoralizing, it sapped my strength, because I didn’t want to stop to rest if the road was around the next ridge. At one point early on, I didn’t refill my water bottle because the road was to be gained before I could drink the remaining half litre. Finally decided after three hours that the next village I saw would either have Fanta or a road, and either way we were stopping there. We did. We had Fantas. And the road was 20 minutes further.
After that break, I felt strong again. We should have stopped like that much earlier, not for a seat on one of the stone porter rest stops but in a chair at a restaurant for a half hour. It would have made everything more pleasant. We weren’t in a hurry, but we acted like it, rushing past everyone else taking breaks, until it was too much and I was exhausted and sick again.
So, with twenty minutes to go, according to the people at that restaurant, we headed out. Raz had taken my bag, partially by force, a few minutes earlier, and he wouldn’t give it back. It didn’t help much, because I had packed lightly, but it was a little easier.
We got close to the next village, and I’ll be damned if there wasn’t a Land Rover driving up to it. At that point, I could have carried both our bags and Raz, I was so relieved. Turned out we had had to walk down the main valley much further than anticipated. I’ll post a picture of the map when I can.
Two hours in a taxi, just a regular Nepali taxi unsuited for such a road, brought us back to Pokhara. I sat on the left side, figuring we could pull over if I had to vomit; came close but made it. Got my room across the street here, tipped out Raz (too much according to the interwebs, but I think he won’t get paid for the remaining days I had booked — need to sort that out with his agency), stripped out of my dirty clothes into some clean ones left at Peace Eye, had lunch, and laid down.
Other than breakfast this morning at Hungry Eye (breakfast buffet for Rs 345!) I barely left my room. When the power was on, I watched soccer reruns from last weekend and American movies on HBO. Always good to have tv for a down day.
Now I’m back in the open cafe at Peace Eye, eating lunch, reading and just hanging out. Tonight, today’s Premier League matches should be on, if not here then in bars and restaurants along the lake. It’s also Nepali New Year’s Eve, as year 2070 begins tomorrow, so there will be celebrations for that. Hopefully can manage to see the party and some football.