A very short walk today, if one can call climbing down such a steep trail a walk! We left Jaubari at 7:30 and arrived at our destination in Phedi (1685 metres) by 9:40! And here is where we are staying for the rest of today and tonight. We could go further but having already walked a hard couple of knee crushing hours it is now too far to get to the next decent place to spend a night. One place that we could get to has a reputation as a noisy locals hangout and Tendi is pretty sure it would not be to our liking. I’ve no doubt he’s got that right! After yesterday’s trials it is good to have some pleasant down time.
We each had a basin bath. The joy of a hot water wash in a warm room has no compare! At the time there was no running water in the village so our water was carried up from the river below to be heated over the kitchen fire and then served to our room in large basins. Had we known the water situation we’d not have asked for this bath water. It is amazing how a country as rich in water resources as Nepal is can have such tenuous supplies of the stuff. We did less laundry less thoroughly than we’d hoped in the remanence of our wash water. Our hair – well – let’s just say it remains unwashed. There are two communal taps in this village but the line has been disconnected or broken some where above. We presume someone is trying to find and fix the break, but meantime water is being laboriously lugged up a steep bank from the river in large heavy milk jugs.
Our room here is quite palatial compared to some on this trek! As we oohed and awed over it’s amazing attributes we couldn’t help but laugh.
Let me describe “palatial.” The ladder to the rooms has no broken steps and they are all on an even keel. Additionally there is a secure railing! Our room a door, albeit one that is very difficult to open and close. It is a sliding door that doesn’t actually slide.
There is about four feet between our beds. Now the beds are just wood boards with a grass mat and thin filthy sheet on top but we’ve scored a couple of lumpy cotton filled sort of duvets to pad under our sleeping bags. There is a light bulb but no switch that we can find. The best part is a second door that opens onto our own private balcony! Wow. It’s covered and has a chunk of sagging rope strung between two posts. A conveniently located in-place undercover clothesline – now that is luxury! On this line now hangs our sort of washed “smalls.”
Across the mud area in front of this building is a small coved gazebo. Here is where we have ensconced ourselves to journal and blog and read. The roar of the river just below us is a pleasant back-drop to the roasters crowing, baby chicks peeping, swallows swooping, and children playing around. Some mules have walked by, bells all a-ringing. Quite a few children have passed by on their way to or home from school. We haven’t figured out the school hours yet. Seems they may actually be in school for an hour or so and spend the rest of the day going to and from. It would appear some of these kids have never seen a foreigner before for all the staring they do. I feel tolerant of the little kids but the older ones I find rather intrusive and annoying. Might adjourn to our second floor balcony in a while to achieve a bit of privacy.
Today as we walked down the formidably steep trail we went past a small farm garden brimming with ripe peas ready for picking. I was almost drooling! We decided to not add “Pea Raiding” to our trip resume which you may remember already includes B&E. It was tempting though. Our down hill order-of-march is Dendi followed by Marianne followed by me then Tendi and Puri bringing up the rear. I was concentrating on picking my steps through the vertical stone field that constitutes the trail, so for some time was unaware that Tendi and Puri had dropped behind. They caught up within a few minutes of my noticing their absence and I forgot all about their mysterious disappearance until lunch. We had Dhal Bhat (again) and frankly Marianne and I are quite tired of the stuff. But wonder or wonders, there was also a huge dish of fresh picked raw peas! We were quite overjoyed and devoured them in very short order. What a delicious treat. Of course Tendi received a heartfelt danyabhad (thank you).
It occurred to me as we picked our way along the trail that Hilary came this way on his quest for Everest. I asked Tendi if this was so and he confirmed that Hilary had come this way – once – but after that one time he chose the Jiri route instead. I could only laugh – why indeed would a sane explorer use this route when there is another much easier one.
That said five tired Danes staggered into the village just before dinner time. They’re coming up to our down and were pretty exhausted. Marianne and I bravely protected Tendi, Dendi and Puri’s room from these invaders but once those three returned from where ever they had been they gave their room to the Danes with good grace. In the end Tendi and Dendi slept on grass mats on the kitchen floor. Puri was stationed on a cot right outside our door for security. Presumably to protect us two old ladies from the potential Viking menace.
The Dane’s were actually a very pleasant group. One of them had been here during the earthquakes in 2015. Being a fit strong man, rather than run for home, he stayed for a week and helped dig bodies from the rubble of Durbar Square in Kathmandu. He told us of the compassion and good humour the terrified inhabitants showed to each other during the quake and throughout the tremors that followed. Yet another reminder of the resilience of this nation.