27.10.2009 - 10.11.2009 10 °C
Well, let's start positively. I'm alive! We got back from our '12' day trek (should have been '14') on Saturday - today is Tuesday so I have had three nights stay in Thamel in Kathmandu courtesy of RCDP (the volunteer agency). As I write this, I am in Swayambhu - back with my host family being looked after, fed and watered. NO monks in sight as I have the day off!
So....the bad news is I didn't make it to Base Camp. It was very unfortunate. I kind of blame our guide, Dodgee, who decided to listen to the girls and boys in our group who thought it appropriate to combine two days worth of trekking into ONE. I'm still very annoyed and upset at this. Basically, because my 'group' thought it would be a great idea to trek to two major mountains (Kala Patarr, 5500m and Base Camp, 5385m) in one day, I didn't get the opportunity to see if I could make it to Base Camp. My main reasons for not wanting to do as they wanted was because it meant we would be walking for over 12 hours UP HILL and because I had already been feeling the symptoms of Altitude Sickness a few days before this. To me it made more sense to follow the plan and take things slow. BUT NO.
This is what happened the day I got ill:
The group got what they wanted. We woke up to begin our 'two big mountains in a day trek' at 3AM. I felt fine at this point as I had managed to get to bed the night before at 7pm. By the time we were all ready to go, it was 3.30am. We walked in the pitch black on rocky land and across patches of ice cold water for almost 2 1/2 hours. Half hour into this ridiculous walk, I started feeling unwell. I felt dizzy, and started to feel sick...but my guide didn't seem to care and we continued walking. I was at the back of the group and I almost fell down the rocks about 5 or 6 times. If it wasn't for Mao and Joel (the gentleman in the group aged 30 and 18 respectively) I might have been seriously injured from falling. By the time we got to the next village (Gorak Shep, 5100m) I was completely out of it. I had to lie down, sleep and be covered with blankets. It felt like the worst hangover of my life... So what did the rest of my group do? They carried on so they could finish their 'two big mountains in a day trek' without me - leaving me in Gorek Shep with one of our porters (who we named 'Flower Boy' because he liked to wear a pink flowered headscarf). Luckily for me, 'Flower Boy' took great care of me and was wrapping me in blankets, holding my hand and keeping me warm. Some concerned tourists kept coming over to me to see if I was alright. At one point, this French woman came over to me and started dressing me, putting more layers of clothes on me so I was like one massive puff ball of clothes. They 'told' the porter to take me back 'down' the mountain to Lobuche (where we stayed the night before, at 4900m) as I would feel worse if I stayed at this high altitude. I kept thinking, "oh its ok, the porter will organise for a horse to take me back down the mountain as surely walking back is out of the question..." NO. I had to walk back like a drunk for 2 1/2 hours to Lobuche in the cold. I was not impressed.
By the time we reached Lobuche, after numerous attempts by the porter to stop me from falling down the mountain, it was 10.30am. My loving group of volunteers returned at 4.30pm - they were knackered but happy in that they had managed to finish their 'two big mountains in a day' trek without incident and loaded with photos of themselves at Base Camp Everest...no i'm not bitter. I honestly believe that had we taken it slower and done 'two big mountains in TWO days' my blog story would have been a more positive one.
We slept and ate at different tea houses most nights. Our best stay was in a place called Naamche Bazaar which is where all the trekkers congregate before heading off again to Base Camp Everest and beyond. Seeing the porters carrying some heavy loads on their backs - like boxes of beer/Pepsi/pipes of steel/parts of roofing made me upset as it can't be good for them PLUS it's usually all for tourists that they are doing it anyway. The journey there was beautiful though. To see iced mountains towering above you, hearing the sounds of fresh running water gushing beside us rather than weird howling dogs, or car horns, was much needed.