May 20, 2013: Active Day 15, Monjo via Namche

Khumjung to Monjo
Hidden Village Lodge Photo credit: Kevin Cordova

Hidden Village Lodge
Photo credit: Kevin Cordova

The next morning when Magic Mike and I tried stretching, I was dismayed to find I could barely move. There was no soreness, I had just lost all flexibility to the point where touching my toes became touching my knees. Weird, shouldn't all this exercise be making me more flexible? Ele taught me a trick where I was to try stretching, and then spin around a few times and try it again. I spun around obediently and when I bent down again, was able to reach my toes as well as I normally do, with my fingertips. (You'll never catch me with my palms on the ground unless it's after months of training.) "Wow, that's amazing, thanks!"
The trail out of Khumjung. Photo credit: Kevin Cordova

The trail out of Khumjung.
Photo credit: Kevin Cordova

Ele and Amanda realized that one of their rented down jackets was missing. Apparently it had come off the outside of their porter bag the day before. DK said it wouldn't be a problem, but he'd probably have to argue with the vendor over the cost of the replacement when we got back to Namche. Sudip would have been a big help with that. We walked up the nearby hillside passing more prayer stones on the way. It was foggy and I had a jacket on. "Hey T-Pain, are you sick?" asked K-Fed, wondering why I wasn't in my usual t-shirt. "No, I just don't do fog. Fog is cold," I replied. Dovile and Stacy put their own spin on Unforgiveable and Powerthirst, laughing all the way down. We passed the Syrangboche Airport, one of the world's highest, and began to descend down to Namche.
Stacy

Stacy

DK and K-Fed

DK and K-Fed

"You better not HAVE no Sherpa brothers"

"You better not HAVE no Sherpa brothers!"

Namche from Above

Namche from Above

Photo credit: Eleanor Tresidder

Photo credit: Eleanor Tresidder

 
 
My jacket is ready to par-tay. From left: DK, Amanda, Dovile, Stacy, Mike, Sara, Kevin, Me Photo credit: Michael Allen

My jacket is ready to par-tay.
From left: DK, Amanda, Dovile, Stacy, Mike, Sara, Kevin, Me
Photo credit: Michael Allen

In Namche we would have time to spend in town. We decided on lunch and then put our packs in an empty room before heading up to one of the pubs for pool and beer. As the beer would have been carried in on someone's back, it was all in cans. I chose a can labeled Everest, just because, and we posed with our celebratory drinks. We had two causes to celebrate that day, the successful journey to base camp, and Sara's 28th birthday. A couple of never-ending games of pool ensued. No one other than K-Fed had any pool playing ability, and he finally ended the last game with a successful jump shot to a corner pocket.  
Bibak

Bibak

Sara and Mike

Sara and Mike

DK

DK

Ele and Mike

Ele and Mike

Dovile and Sara

Dovile and Sara

Ele and Kevin

Ele and Kevin

Sara

Sara

Dovile and Mike

Dovile and Mike

Local Namche woman.

Local Namche woman.

We left to do some shopping. I considered some of the knit socks I had been so jealous of, and instead used the last of the cash I had (the rest earmarked for the porters in Lukla) for TP and sunscreen. Better late on the sunscreen than never. As per usual, I was drawn like a magnet into one of the art shops, and lusted after most of the paintings. I could visit Nepal just to shop for art. At lunch we were entertained by a plastic bag floating on the breeze. The bag in and of itself wasn't all that interesting, what was funny was that it appeared to be chasing nervous chickens down the opposing hillside. "Who needs TV?" I asked. We exited the park, and stopped at the same ranger station where we registered our camera on the way in. An endless donkey train carrying my favorite substance (kerosene... poor animals) plodded up the hill as we waited.
Bibak and DK check us out of the park.


Bibak and DK check us out of the park.

Those blue containers are full of kerosene.


Those blue containers are full of kerosene.

Down the dusty switchbacks to the Hillary Bridge we went. Kevin joked that yak (or was it mule?) urine was Nepali tea. He intended this to mean that the Nepalese were tough, not that the tea was bad. "No, American tea!" countered Bibak, the ever-present smile on his face. Bibak would chatter on breathlessly all day in Nepali but was usually shy with his English. He must have been warming up to us. "Way to dish it back, Bibak!" I said, laughing. We crossed the bridge and continued down the river. My bladder was feeling the beer we had earlier. On finding a suitable hiding place, I waited for the others to pass before pointing up and saying "charpi" (toilet) to Bibak who was herding us from behind. Luckily the trail was actually flat and not Nepali flat so I was able to run to catch up.
Sometimes the critters walk IN. Photo credit: Eleanor Tresidder

Sometimes the critters walk IN.
Photo credit: Eleanor Tresidder

Our rooms in Monjo were downstairs from the common room above. From inside we had a pleasant, green view of the river and surrounding hillside. The window was nearly level with the ground outside, and we could see the feet of people and various critters as they walked by. Each room had its own shower. When it was my turn I went as fast as possible, running a razor up my furry legs while the shampoo rinsed from my hair. I debated quickly whether I wanted to take my chances and wash it again because it still smelled. It was a good decision, the water ran cold soon after and I actually felt clean when I was done. Dovile and I washed our knickers in the sink and hung them up on the wooden slats covering the window. Even being quick-dry, they wouldn't completely dry for four days. We were back down in the  green forest climate where we started and the air was always damp.
Enormous Spider Photo credit: Stacy Rothenberg

Enormous Spider
Photo credit: Stacy Rothenberg

There was a commotion outside in the hallway. Kevin and Stacy had an enormous spider in their room. This may have been the moment when our rooms transformed into scary dungeon rooms for some of the others. Dovile went upstairs and I stayed behind to do some more grooming. While standing at the sink, I was hit with one of the strongest instances of déjà vu I could ever remember. It was as if I had been in that exact place before either in a dream or as another person. I paused to see if any more of the vision or memory would come and when it didn't, went back in the bedroom to clean out and organize my pack. Later I was back in the bathroom standing in front of the mirror, which was not above the sink, trying to coax my hair into doing something halfway civilized. I looked over at the window and a local man was standing there watching and smiling, completely casual. I just smiled back and he moved on. I walked back upstairs to the common room. River Monsters was on TV. Seeing TV again was somewhat mesmerizing. The not-so-good news reported tornado damage in US. Thankfully someone changed the channel to the movie Up. One of my favorites. I said it was a good date movie (that was the first time I'd seen it) and Ele disagreed. "It's too sad!" she said. "Oh, I was bawling my eyes out in the beginning," I agreed. "The rest of the movie is cute though." "He liked it," I mused, thinking back. My date liked seeing me cry at movies, plus he also liked the movie. There were a bunch of British dudes up there with us on a different tour. It sounded like they actually stayed a night or two at base camp which would have been fun. They talked to Amanda at length about New Zealand and she tried to sell them on an Active trip. Dinner arrived, and with it my plate of somewhat bland dal bhat. People were passing around a plastic bottle of green hot sauce to make it more interesting. When the bottle reached me I turned it over, intending to squeeze a few drops on my rice. Instead the cap popped off and the entire contents of the bottle oozed onto my plate. Lovely. Well, at least it wasn't salt. I can handle spice, but the hot sauce soup might have been a bit much. I scraped most of the sauce onto another dish, mixed the rest in, and diluted it with more rice. Problem solved. The boys had a surprise in store for Sara's birthday. They had baked a watery but still tasty cake and decorated it with flowers from the flower boxes outside. She got prayer scarves, tiny little prayer wheel earrings, and a bottle of chicken rum.
Happy birthday Sara!

Happy birthday Sara!

Not a bad way to ring in 28.

Not a bad way to ring in 28.

Scarf Scarf
The prayer wheel earrings.

The prayer wheel earrings.

Chicken rum!

Chicken rum!

Chicken rum is traditionally enjoyed with hot water so out came the glasses and a teapot. We pried our eyes away from the TV and played a game or two of asshole. Dovile won. Most of us headed down to our dungeon to sleep, Dovile and Ele stayed and chatted away into the night.

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