May 10, 2013: Active Day 5, Namche Bazar

The next morning we met for breakfast in the common room. A few of the other gals in our group said they weren't feeling particularly well, and Sara had been hit especially hard. When they brought the food out we watched in distress as all the color drained from her face. DK and Sudip took good care of her, and she opted out of our acclimatization day in favor of more rest. They checked in on the rest of us. "How are you all feeling?" "I'm good," I said. "Other than getting up to pee ten times like a little old lady!" Sudip laughed, even though this was expected for two reasons. First, we were drinking a ton of water! Second, our bodies seemed less able to just hold it like they would be at lower elevations. The higher we went, the more intense this effect would be. When my body wanted to answer the call of nature, it wanted to do so right away.
Mt. Cook, New Zealand. 12,316 ft. / 3,754 m.

Mt. Cook, New Zealand. 12,316 ft. / 3,754 m

For our acclimatization hike we'd go above the village, which was built up the side of a mountain, and reach an altitude higher than the summit of Aoraki / Mount Cook. Admittedly, our day's "summit" would be a bit easier to reach. Before we left we gathered in the courtyard in front of The Nest for some stretches. Mike and I tried to remember the yoga routine from P90X. The sun salutations, up and down dog and a few warrior poses would become a pre-hike morning tradition. Mike and I tended to be "Johnny stiff" while Dovile and Ele would put us to shame with their excellent flexibility. On the way up, we met our pet for the day, a cute black puppy with white socks on his front paws. Doville immediately christened him Eddie Socks Sherpa.
Photo credit: Kevin Cordova

Pointing at Everest
Photo credit: Kevin Cordova

Just above the village, we enjoyed our first views of Everest, which was about 10 miles / 16 km away. DK said we were lucky to see her, because "she's usually pretty shy." Meaning, there was usually cloud cover.  We took a ton of pictures, including many failed attempts of the group jumping mid-air. Further up the hill we encountered a sketchy runway that made Lukla look like LAX. The opposite grassy hillside was too appealing to pass up, so we plopped down for a quick water and sunshine break.
The best of our failed attempts.


The best of our failed attempts at "Yay, Everest!"
Photo credit: Amanda Tutton

The runway above Namche


The runway above Namche.
Photo credit: Kevin Cordova

Working hard at acclimatizing.

Working hard at acclimatizing.

Morning calisthenics at the local school. Imagine going to school with that view every day!

Morning calisthenics at the local school. Imagine going to school with that view every day!

Namche from above. Photo credit: Kevin Cordova

Namche from above.
Photo credit: Kevin Cordova

As we walked back down to the village, DK, Stacy and I found that we shared many of the same views on career choice, materialism, and life in general. I'd read somewhere that our generation generally favors life experience over material things. The fact that we were even on this trip was evidence enough of that, though I admit we were more on the extreme end of the spectrum. Stacy said she had encountered criticism from people along the lines of "when are you going to sell your soul, get a real job, and make your life about accumulating stuff like the rest of us?" Um, never. All of us had encountered similar pressure at some point. I wasn't used to being in such effortless agreement with people on these topics and it felt good to relate to them in this way. DK mentioned an article he carried with him on the subject and offered to let us read it later.
Namche Bazar marketplace.

Namche Bazar marketplace.
Photo credit: Kevin Cordova

Back in Namche we walked through their marketplace and had our first encounter with some real-life yaks. "Yakety yak! Yakety yak!" sang Kevin. "Only a matter of time," I smirked. "Yep," said DK
One of the first yaks.

One of the first yaks.
Photo credit: Kevin Cordova

After lunch at The Nest, we went back into town, browsed the market, and then settled in to the Liquid Bar for an Everest-themed movie, a drink, and some WiFi access. I ordered a Bloody Mary, the fact that it would have alcohol in it didn't even cross my mind until I sat down to write this a month later. Whoops, guess I violated my own "no alcohol on the way up" rule and lived to tell about it. We handed the server our phones so he could enter the "secret" access code to the internet. The day's movie was an IMAX film called Everest, about a successful summit attempt at the same time as the Into Thin Air tragedy. As it started, I began sifting through the hundreds of emails in my inbox and came across an message from PayPal telling me to confirm my account due to "unusual activity". Uh oh.  I kept scrolling down. I found a receipt from PayPal saying I had sent $408.75 to some random person for a camera to be shipped to some other random person. WTF? Someone had obviously hacked my account, and unfortunately, it was linked directly to my checking rather than a credit card at the time. My blood ran cold. I checked for any other transactions, and it appeared PayPal had frozen my account in time. Too bad they didn't reject that first one. The transaction occurred just days after I left the country. My intuition immediately said someone at the bank or credit card company, the only institutions besides my work who knew my dates of departure and return, must have had access to my email and password and decided to give it a shot. At the time I used the same password for both. Dear readers, please keep PayPal in mind when making travel plans. It was an account I tended to forget I even had until this happened. Meanwhile, on screen, we heard one of the last radio conversations with Rob Hall. It was bad enough reading about it, and my heart bled as we heard his actual voice through the speakers. Bleh. I chugged the Bloody Mary that had been sitting untouched. Maybe using WiFi was a bad idea. I wasn't about to send any personal details to PayPal on public WiFi to "confirm my account" and start a dispute for the fraudulent charge. That would have to wait until I got home, better I had remained blissfully unaware of it until then. We walked back down for dinner in a somewhat more somber mood than when we started. After dinner most of the other gals still weren't feeling 100% and turned in early. I ended up playing cards with the boys. At first I just watched. DK was on a roll, and won over Sudip. He pretended to fold up the score card as a treasure to keep forever. They offered to let me play the next game and said I needed a card name. "What's your nickname?" asked DK "Uhhh, I don't really have any," I said. The wheels don't turn all that fast up there, and I had forgotten about some of my old band nicknames like Love Shack. "Okay, you're T-Pain," he said. Perfect. It's in. Mike became Magic Mike and Kevin became K-Fed. ♫ I'm on a mountain, I'm on a mountain Everybody look at me 'Cause I'm trekking on a mountain I'm on a mountain, I'm on a mountain Take a good hard look At the mother------- mountain I'm on a mountain, mother-----, take a look at me... ♫ Somebody please help me out with the name and spelling of this game! Dun bohl? Something like that. It was easy to pick up, yet funny and competitive enough to keep us interested, so would be a mainstay at the tea houses as we continued. As with any card game, there are variations to the rules, the following is how we played. The minimum number of players required is 2 and maximum is 5 with one deck. More people can play, and then two decks are required. The goal is to reduce the total count in your hand to 5 or less, unless you're playing with two decks, then it's 7 or less. Ace is worth 1, two is worth 2, and so on up to the king which is worth 13. To begin, the dealer deals 5 cards to each player counter-clockwise. The person on the dealer's left goes first and the game continues in a counter-clockwise rotation. Players must first discard a card or a sequence of cards (pair, triple, quad, or straight flush of 3 or more), then pick one up from the deck or from the top of the discard pile. Skipping turns is not allowed, you must discard and pick up or else show your hand if you have less than 5 or 7. When someone gets under 5, they must wait until their turn and then show their hand by placing the cards face up on the table. Once this happens, everyone else must show also. If someone has a lower score, the first person to show has to double their hand count. The person with the lowest score gets a 0 for that round. Everyone else counts up the cards they have left and the round is recorded on a scorecard. The game goes to 100 points. Once you pass 100, you're out. The last person standing wins. That night Mike was the newbie who hung in longest. Kevin and I lost spectacularly. If the goal was to get to 100 as soon as possible, we'd be rock stars. I suspect that Sudip, aka Sudafed, won that game. Now, typically I'm a person who prides herself at being able to sleep through anything. Except maybe planes. I like sleeping and tend to think I'm good at it. Tonight that aptitude was put to a new test. It was still too hot to sleep in an expedition rated sleeping bag. As I unzipped it to turn it into a blanket, the sound of loud violent retching began echoing through the room. I knew the dude couldn't possibly be in our bathroom, yet it sure sounded like he was. The sound kept going. ...and going... Wow, this poor fellow is really suffering. ...and going...
The amplifier.

The amplifier.

Literally, I believe this person was sick all night long. We might have heard a boot come out of him. I didn't know illness like that was possible. I'm terrified of vomit and will go to great lengths to keep it from happening to me. In my limited experience, the body empties itself out at some point and the suffering subsides, at least for a while. Not in this poor guy's case. He made no effort to be quiet about it either, maybe he reckoned if he wasn't sleeping, no one else ought to be able to either. The next day I went into the bathroom, curious about what would make the sound so loud. It turned out there was a random vent in the ceiling. Whatever its intended purpose was, it had the added effect of amplifier for bathroom sounds. Dovile and I weren't the only ones who heard it either, it was a subject of conversation amongst the rest of the group the next day. Yeah, I know, not the most pleasant of conversation topics, but life gets more real up here the higher you go, no use denying it.

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