Sam: This is it.
Frodo: This is what?
Sam: If take one more step, it'll be the farthest away from home I've ever been.
Frodo: Come on Sam. Remember what Bilbo used to say, "It's a dangerous business Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Day 13: Monastery and porter-guide miss (again)

Day 13 Periche - Tengboche
Elevation loss 420m, 4280-3860m

This morning I was ecstatic to wake up without a freezing cold nose! Usually I sleep with my fleece hat pulled over my eyes and the sleeping bag pulled up as high as I can. The biggest difference I have noticed coming down was the increased temperature. This afternoon in Tengboche I actually wore sandals without socks briefly. Throughout the morning hike I peeled off my windproof fleece and fleece hat and wore a thin windbreaker and bandana. 

The other biggest difference is the increased vegetation. I was so happy to see large juniper trees that provided shade as we walked to Tengboche. The forest around Tengboche Monastery is protected from cutting so the forest was large and mature. The tree line is somewhere around 4000m, I think and there's pretty bad deforestation anyway in areas with trees. 

The reason we and other trekkers stopped at Tengboche was for to visit the Tibetan Buddhist monastery. It is the largest in the Khumbu and boys all over the Khumbu come here to study. It's a beautiful large building framed by the mountains and clouds. Tourists like us often go for the prayer ceremony at 3pm. I had been to a similar ceremony at Tashi Palkiel outside Pokhara that was actually a better experience but it was interesting to see it again in the setting of the Himalayas. 

Today was another porter-guide miss. He got us a dirty dingy drafty teahouse in Tengboche after saying that this was the only place available. We knew that there were only 5 or 6 teahouses so accommodations were tight. We believed him but the room, outdoor toilet, and dark common room were so bad. I killed a fly with my sandal in the room. We decided to walk to a large impressive-looking teahouse nearby just to check. A smiling elderly proprietor said that they did have a room! Trekmate stayed in the dining room where we had lunch, which was large and clean, and I went to look at the room. I saw the clean room, pristine indoor bathroom with sink just down the hall. I gave trekmate a thumbs up. Trekmate and I scrambled to repack our things in literally 60 seconds to move to the new place. 

Now we have totally lost trust in our porter-guide. We were angry because he lied to us about the lack of accommodations. I understand that he may prefer for us to stay at certain teahouses of friends but it was appalling that he lied to us about why we were staying at an inferior place. He was angry when we told him we were moving, predictably. 

Aside from the snafu about our first teahouse, my time in Tengboche was pleasant because of the warmer weather and the fact that we are descending. I don't mean to sound like I didn't enjoy the trek. I did tremendously. I will always remember seeing Everest and this journey. But I have achieved my goal and now it's just finishing up. I am looking forward to the creature comforts: warm weather, running water, clean clothes and a shower. 

There is a sign on the way out of Tengboche reading "WAY TO NAMCHE". That is where we are headed on a 5-6 hour hike tomorrow. I can't wait! 

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