Last night I got talking to a German in our tealodge who was travelling up alone. Really brave or really stupid? I dunno. He managed to get himself caught out in the dark so was glad for the company as he was really scared that he had lost his way in the dark and didn't know where he was, passing only a few people, not really knowing whether he was on the right path. Thankfully he found himself at our tealodge. He was showing signs of AMS and I supplied him with ibuprofen as he'd already taken some paracetamol. I'm no medic but I did suggest that if he wasn't better in the morning, go and check himself out at the Mountain Rescue Centre, which was in Pheriche.
Also, the German couple who lived in Holland were there, with whom I got chatting to in Dengboche and who Dr Nick helped on the morning that I had decided to not come up. She was very chatty and grateful for his help and Dr Nick really helped her husband who was showing symptoms of AMS. Lovely couple. She gave me some Immodium.
I forgot to mention (while we're on the subject of people I was speaking to) that while at Gorak Shep I met a lovely young Britistani lady called Rahila Hussein who said she was on tour around the region, travelling up into Pakistan seeing relatives and picking up recipes for a cookbook. She's going to email me a recipe for a fish curry which I'll have to give her my opinion on. Hope she does.
Anyway, we carry on down to Namche Bazaar which we are all excited about. We seem to be travelling in several groups. The fast group, the slow group (me included) and the quarantined.
Immodium is working it's stuff and I'm glad. The route starts taking on familiar sights; the highest occupied village, the stone boundaried fields, the windy paths, all going down hill which was such a blessing. Eventually the track evened out but my tummy was getting the better of me. It was making me feel a bit weaker than usual. When we finally get to TyangBoche, I have o take an extended loo break as everyone seems to have got here earlier than I have. Was I that far behind? Am I with another group? I remember the hill track down with some fondness as we pass some trekkers on their ascent. They look tired and worn. We say, 'Not far now, and at the top you get to see Everest,'. I must admit a certain smugness did colour the undertone of my words, though the supportive look of recognition did try to convey a certain sympathy. I was chatting to Joe Williams for a bit before he got a bit quiet. I shared my last snickers with him as he was feeling hungry.
I shouldn't have done that really. Minutes later, Joe complains of feeling none too well and we all have to sit and take a break from walking at one of the bridges. A couple of shops that were there selling trinkets and bric-a-brac took our minds off the sick ones.
We continue along after it's decided that everyone is going to make the final push to Namche, no one is going to stay behind, despite the growing numbers of the unwell. Drisla and the other doctors confer that it's tough and that they should've stuck to their guns and not let us take the decision in travelling down over 3 days. It's really tiring for everyone and everyone seemed to be dropping like flies from exhaustion. I'm watching myself for signs of the lurgy. For too early for any of that nonsense if I got it from Joe. It'll hit me in Kathmandu if it does.
We struggle on through the closing darkness, I'm bringing up the rear. As ever. Curry has loaned me the use of his pole. I'm not sure if I can say anything other than double entendres as I'm really tired. It's my default setting. Every corner we turn we expect to see the familiar thighs of Namchee, with her populated crotch, but no. It doesn't happen. A few of the guys try to cheer me up by saying that we have left Khumjung ages ago, or bypassed it somehow. I can't see how that could've happened. Another corner, still no Namchee.
Just as the sun had gone behind the hill, just as it started getting cold, just as the blue sky had turned lavender, we turn a corner and see below us a house on a hillside on the next corner. Going past that, more houses, the dirt road turns to rough paving, houses appear on either sides, lights are glowing secrets behind curtained windows. A few smiling guides are on street corners telling us where to turn. We're in a different tealodge to the one we were in on the way up. This one I think takes all of us. I enter and dump bags, see others, organise a room, re-organise a room as Joe really needs to be quarantined.
I sit down to eat and I think I drink 3 cans of coke. I clearly need the sugar. Others arrive, looking pissed off. I don't think we look the most welcoming as we're just as zombied out as they are. Spirits are at their lowest amongst the whole troupe but no one has the energy to say anything apart from the medics. Early to bed methinks. Night night.