I got up today in Lukla, thinking that I would see the return of Mingma and attempt to leave with him tomorrow. Instead, as I began to ask for lunch, Murari called me from Kathmandu to say that I should have been in the airport 15 minutes ago.
I hectically through all my gear into bags and did my best impression of a manic porter. I got over to the domestic departures area in Lukla airport where the owner of the Tea-House I’ve been at, Kami, told me to wait. I did that for three hours, never being given a ticket or being told anything more than, “Wait…”. Most folks I spoke with, in the limbo of Lukla airport, had been awaiting thier flight for 11+ hrs that day. So really, I got off easy. When the weather is good in Lukla, the place is a madhouse with a few hundred people trying to leave on half a dozen flights.
In the end though, I did get on a plane and we even returned safely to the capitol. In Kathmandu, Deha explained to me that they had to pull favors to have a seat opened for me. I don’t know what that entails, but I owe Deha and Murari from Summit trek big thanks. Not to mention their friends and benefactors in Lukla. Back in the city, Dan and Murari explained to me, that I might have been stuck in a cloud up in Lukla until after my flight to Seattle had left. The weather in the Khumbu has no obligations to humans and if you can fly out of lukla, you’d best do it.
I returned to a muggier Kathmandu than I had left and was so pleased to see my cheap hotel room again. They give you toilet paper and soap for free here. This is crazy! Far too nice for the likes of me… I enjoyed a shave and a shower, squatting beneath a faucet 1m up the bathroom wall. I hadn’t washed my hair in 24 days and I looked like the Wildman I’d become.
Once I looked and smelled presentable, Dan, Murari & Deha invited me out to dinner. I got to meet the successful climbers who had just returned from climbing to the top of the world; lovely company and good food. I feel very lucky to be safely back in Kathmandu to finish my work.