Monday, April 1, 2013
Kathmandu: elev 4,518 feet. SpO2 (Blood Oxygen saturation %) = 98 RHR(Resting Heart Rate)= 72
We landed in Kathmandu late last night. Ty and I were the final two members of wave 3 to arrive. A local representative of IMG, Mohan, met us at the airport, helping us gather our duffels and navigate the chaotic swell of humanity. He then adorned us with carnation necklaces and showed us to a waiting van. Mohan seemed happy in a way that was probably intended to communicate we should not be alarmed by what happened next. The van leaped out into a sea of honking horns and sputtering vespas. Headlights came at us from every side, veering away a moment short of impact. Store lights blurred past my window. It was loud, dusty, and everything you have ever seen in movies about this part of the world. Under normal circumstances I might have engaged myself in the process of offering urgent counsel, but I was tired from flight and did not understand the language this traffic spoke. I told myself "this is Nepal" and took to studying my flower necklace.
The entire team gathered for the first time this morning. All together there are 22 of us. Some are along for the trek only. Others are climbing peaks other than Everest. But about 12 of us have ambitions for the world's highest summit. I will enjoy getting to know each team member.
Ty and I spent the afternoon picking up some last minute items around Kathmandu. Two team members showed us around the city. One of them is from New York, the other Perth, Australia. IMG paired them up upon arrival as both share the objective of reaching Camp 4 on Everest. One would think they have been life-long friends, such is the playful camaraderie already fostered between the two. They took us to a non-descript third floor office where we could buy a local cellular sim card for $8, and 9 hours of talk time for another $28. Advising Ty and I the local network would "lock out" our smart phones even with these items, our new friends then led us to another place where we could each purchase a brand-new Samsung flip phone for $20. This might be a good math exercise for my friends at Meridian Middle School; Figure out the total cost per minute of talk time and compare that to the rate our existing international calling plan would charge ($2.29/minute) to call home from Nepal. Ty called his wife (my sister, Noelle) and found the sound quality to be excellent!
Kathmandu is a busy, noisy place. But the hectic pace of cars and motorcycles is somehow contrasted by a patient people, who I found to be warm and friendly. Aside from crossing the street, I feel quite safe moving about the city by myself. Almost everyone speaks enough english to get by. For this I am grateful, given my complete lack of Nepalese. The influence of Buddhism is present all about, as incense burns just around the corner and I am greeted with "Namaste". People wearing colorful sarongs come and go from old-world temples, as uniformed children climb a pile of bricks on their way to school.
We will fly to Lukla early tomorrow morning and begin the trek to Everest.