I need a t-shirt that says, “I went to Nepal and lived to tell about it. Barely.” I’m not sure if I had known ahead of time what I was getting into, if I would have actually gone. But I can say now that I have stood at the knees of Mt. Everest and looked to the top. Or maybe the top was just in my peripheral vision as I was looking to God to deliver me from this self-inflicted adventure.
One of the things that somehow didn’t get mentioned in any of the travel brochures was the fact that there’s no heat at any location in the country higher than sea level. So if it’s -5 degrees Fahrenheit outside your room, it’s -5 degrees Fahrenheit inside your room. I wore two pairs of wool socks, a wool base layer, thick trekking pants, two shirts, a down jacket and wool cap during the day. The only thing I didn’t sleep in was my boots. Otherwise, I crawled straight into my down sleeping bag that had a comfort level to -10 below zero, put another down sleeping bag on top of me plus a heavy blanket and hoped I didn’t freeze to death in my sleep.
I didn’t change my clothes for four days. It was just too cold. I’d rather be dirty and smell like the business end of a yak than be a fresh-smelling popsicle. There was no greater mental and physical struggle than the prospect of having to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. I was terrified if I went that I’d stick to the frozen toilet seat!
Not that I wasn’t grateful, because that bathroom actually had a toilet seat. It wasn’t attached to the toilet in any permanent way, but there was a seat. That’s why I paid the extra money for the upgraded accommodations. I had trekked past bathrooms with no seat. Some didn’t even have a toilet, just a porcelain target in the floor. Some just had the hole. One had a big pile of leaves. And I paid a local woman a quarter to let me use them. Or maybe I was paying for the three walls and a door. The leaves were free to use as I chose.
Next time I think I’ll choose to vacation in a first world country with indoor heat and modern plumbing. Because Nepal has been checked off of my leaf-filled bucket list!