A journalist observes life in the far north.
KATHMANDU–The last leg of my trek was the worst. I was fatigued, bitchy, I got chewed out by the psychologist trekker in the group because of my attitude and then the vomitting and diarrea started.
I don’t know how I dragged myself out of bed in Lukla eight hours ago to catch the plane to Kathmandu but I did. It must have been the prospect of having a bath, which I still haven’t done.
I have no clean clothes. After I type this post, I am running over to the Blue Bird “department store” to see if I can’t buy some clean pants and underwear. I stink BAD and I’m glad no one else is in the Internet nook at the Hotel Tibet to smell me.
Yesterday started like any other day. We got up early, packed our gear bags, had breakfast and began walking.
I brought up the rear, as usual. The 20-something Irishman, dear sweet John, walked with me. In front of us were the 53-year-old the psychologist from South Africa; the quiet, well-to-do Japanese woman of the same age; the 37-year-old Dutchman going through a divorce; and the blonde 20-something Minnesota girl living in Singapore with her workaholic husband, who she is contemplating leaving.
The Minnesota girl was full of energy and amazement at being on the trek, often saying things like “That is soo incredible” or “That is soo amazing.” Naturally, I wanted to kill her.
When the Irishman and I arrived at one of the stopping points, the trekkers must have sensed that I was struggling a bit. “How are you feeling, Amanda?” three of them asked. By the fourth person, I raised my voice and said, “Attention, everyone, I am doing just fine. I am feeling great.” Of course, it was a lie but I wasn’t in the mood for sharing.
My mood was worse at the lunch stop. I was exhausted. (I still am.) The how-are-you-feelings started up again and I announced that I wasn’t up for 20 questions on how I am doing. That’s when the psychologist blew up at me, saying that everyone was struggling and that they were just showing concern and that I was being rude.
Fine. I did have a bad attitude. Leave it to a psychologist to give me an ass chewing.
Things got worse from there. The Irishman and I headed off, behind the group, as usual. I just couldn’t keep up. The Irishman felt bad for me. I tried telling him to go on ahead but he wouldn’t listen, saying he liked the more leisurely pace.
That’s when I started feeling the nausea. I figured it had to do with the fatigue, but then I kept having to use the rest room. At one point, I sat on the rock ledge of a lady’s store, bent over and lost my lunch. Then it began to rain.
Somehow, the Irishman convinced me to keep going. Every so often, I would stop and throw up on the trail or I would have to run into the woods to take care of business on the other end.
It was slow-going, to say the least. I could walk maybe 50 steps before I had to sit down or to deal with bodily functions. The Irishman was kind and concerned. He offered to carry my backpack, but I knew he was tired and that his backpack had been giving him problems, cutting into his shoulders.
I was sitting down, resting, trying to pull myself together and bring myself to walk 50 more paces, when I looked up and who did I see?
Dawa, my porter, who had already carried mine and another gear bag to Lukla and had come looking for me.
He grabbed my backpack. I embraced him and began weeping. “Thank you, my friend,” I said.
Dawa grabbed my right elbow and practically dragged me to Lukla. Once I had to drop my drawers right on the trail. Dawa and the Irishman, so polite and caring, turned their backs.
After I arrived at the Namaste Lodge, I went straight to bed, my rest interrupted by occasional vomitting and the sounds of the Sherpas chanting in celebration downstairs. I was too fatigued to run to the bathroom so I lay there part of the night in soiled drawers.
I still haven’t eaten. The smell of any food repels me. I am choking down water so as not to get dehydrated. I am guessing the illness is due to food poisoning.
I set aside $50 to give Dawa in the morning, but I didn’t see him.