How do you describe Kathmandu? With all the books, salve songs, case stories and legends; the magic and mystery envelopes this place like the afternoon rain shower that just passed through.
My Thai flight, sick TG 319, from Bangkok left almost on time and arrived almost on time – not bad for this part of the world. I was pretty tired from the previous 15 hour flight from LA to Bangkok but stayed awake as I had a window seat on the right side of the plane – on a good day you can see Everest looming high above the clouds. But not today.
The flight was full of diplomats, tourists, trekkers, climbers, monks and families. Everyone was in a chatty mood and the flight went by quickly. As I walked down the stairs from the white and purple 777, I took a deep breath of warm, moist air – back in Kathmandu.
This is my 8th time to take that first breath; each one unique, yet familiar. The visa process seemed faster than before, perhaps because there were not as many foreigners in the line this year. I got my 90 day visa pasted into my passport and went downstairs to see if my three duffles had arrived.
There was the huge black one, and a few minutes later the large red one appeared. So far, so good! And yes, the small blue one. YES! Thank you United and Thai! Denver to Kathmandu, nonstop.
As I navigated the helpful kids wanting to push my cart for “tips?”; I stepped through the airport doors to a heaving crowd of taxi drivers and guide companies calling out their names. Alpine Ascents, Himalayan Experience, Adventure Consultants, Jagged Globe, Adventure Peaks, Mountain Madness and International Mountain Guides. And many more with the words guides, mountain, expedition, tour in their names.
A big smile greeted me from Jangbu and my bags were whisked away to the IMG van. A fragrant lei was put around my neck to welcome me to Nepal. Soon I was joined by four of our team.
“How was your flight? Where are you from? First time to Nepal? Are you the classic or hybrid team?” Getting to know you. Lots of time to do this over the next 8 weeks.
Pulling up to the Hotel Tibet, a gaggle of IMG Guides appeared full of smiles, energy and strong handshakes. A nice first impression.
The talk was of cold and heavy snow at Namche. That there are 50 IMG Sherpas who will climb above Base Camp. There are about 25 Everest climbers on the team. Eric Simonson will arrive tomorrow for the IMG welcome diiner. The flights were canceled to Lukla today due to bad weather in Kathmandu. Climbers and Trekkers are stacking up at the airport. It is business as usual
So it has begun. I a off to get an early dinner, probably at the Fire and Ice Pizza place. It is kind of a tradition for me. I like to go there alone, order a large pizza and beer – carbo loading – my story and I’m sticking with it! But it is time to focus on why I am here. I know the routine. I know the feelings. I have the memories. And I know that I don’t know what this time will bring but have a good feeling.