Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The "Angel" of Ama Dablam

Tuesday, 20 March

After a great meal last night, I spent a few hours crawling through the phone lines trying to upload photos...and not yet with much success.  It is amazing how much patience this retro-communication requires- I am so used to the speed of the internet.

Today was a "true" rest day...we ate breakfast at 7, but then didn't set out for the day until 9 AM.  We went a bit further down the trail into the village of Deboche to visit a Buddhist nunnery (gompa).  Behind the front door there is a central courtyard flanked to the left by a large prayer wheel, to the back by the sanctuary, and to the right by the kitchens.  I walked around the prayer wheel, then joined the others as we took off our shoes in order to enter the sanctuary.  Brightly colored paintings of Buddhist gods and goddesses covered the walls, and embroidered silk/satin panels hung from the ceiling.  There were rows of prayer pots and padded benches on which to pray.  In the corner was a small altar, with several icons within glass cages. The ornate room is rather a surprise in comparison to the rustic village- a hidden jewel.  In the kitchen a couple of nuns were cooking and churning butter, and,  thanks to Phura and his trail lessons in  Sherpa/Nepali, I was able to ask them for a photo.

After the nunnery, we retraced our steps back up past the teahouse in which we spent the night, and then ascended back up the hill to the Tengboche monastery.  I ended up being first in line up the hill, I think as a sort of trial to see if there was any way I could stay with the team. I went as fast as I could, and tried to keep my heart rate around 145 bpm.  After about twenty-six minutes, we reached the top of the hill, and the Tengboche monastery.  And what a view! Mountains in all directions...  We continued up the ridge past the monastery to gain a wee bit more altitude than we'd been, all in preparation for our hike to Pheriche tomorrow.  (For me, it was just a joy to leave the bags "blown out" (as Linden says) and to not have to worry about squeezing everything in.)  Sun-lovers all, we hung out at the chorten on the ridge, basking in the mountain sun.  After a while, we headed back down to the monastery, and took up residence at the Tengboche bakery.  Our plan was to hang out there until the afternoon prayers at 3pm.  We ate and read and chatted and...shopped... as an adjacent building housed the small but aptly named "This Is My Shop!"
We have definitely raised the GNP in the Khumbu valley.

It's nice to be needed, and today, I was able to help a 75 yo German trekker with a small head wound.  Seems that while he was on the trail, an errant rock (thrown by a yak-herder- presumably at a yak) found its mark on the back of his skull. Fortunately, my new friend "Friedreich" was wearing a hat, and that saved him a nastier wound.  So, using RMI's medical kit, I tended to his wound.  He was very sweet, even after the orange dye job I gave him with the betadine!  After going through some routine wound care advice, and cautioning him against gaining elevation for a day or two just in case he had subclinical brain trauma, he thanked me profusely and very elegantly. We took photos outside with the mountains beyond, and he called me his "Angel of Ama Dablam." Love that!  He even stopped by the bakery a while later to thank me again.
Like I said, it's a blessing to be able to help someone.

We waited a couple more hours for the monastery prayer time- and we were pretty chilled by then as  the crowds had rolled in. Some other trekking groups stopped to chat with us, sharing their horror stories of the upper Khumbu weather.  One Irish trekker told us, as if he hadn't previously known, that " Everest Base Camp is on a glacier, so it's cold, eh?..."  Probably a rather large understatement-appropriate for an Irishman.We waited in the courtyard until we heard the blowing of the horn (signalling the commencement of prayers) and then, after removing our shoes, we entered the sanctuary.  Considering the number of trekkers passing through, I am surprised that the funky-feet-cloud wasn't more potent.  But it was still bad.  The interior of the sanctuary held a ~20 ft high statue of Buddha on an altar-and perhaps ten long benches piled with blankets on which the monks sit and pray. We sat along the perimeter of the room as the prayers began.  What amazed me was how the monks all seemed to be chanting different prayers, yet they ended precisely on time- like a jazz band.  It was funny to watch Linden's face as the three (!) monks who were praying got up and left after only about 15 minutes.  Linden and Jeff had told us that prayers often last for hours...but not today! Turns out the Lama from Tengboche is down in Namche Bazaar doing a puja ceremony, and the monks are all on vacation.  Apparently, so are the nuns from the nunnery we visited this am. ( I do not know if they vacation together!)

Returning to the tea house, Corell and I surveyed our room explosion, and decided to pack it all up...later.
This tea house houses the sleeping rooms on the lower floor, and the kitchen and "dinning room" on the upper level.  Last night the dinning room was warmed by the central wood stove, but today, not so much.  My fingers have clamped down as I type this.  Physically, some of us are starting to feel the altitude with slight headaches, and some of us are beginning to have a bit of GI upset.  So far, all mild, so that is great news.  I've been enjoying the benefits of Cialis...as it helps open up my pulmonary vasculature so that I can breathe better. Tomorrow, we head to 14,000 feet, so keep your fingers crossed for all of us!
Love to all back home, and, now,
Ramro Sanga Sutnos!


  1. I am really enjoying your posts Dana Marie. Good luck tomorrow!

  2. Enjoying your blog daily - how are you having time to do this???