Monday, March 19, 2012


Monday, March 19

During an all-too-brief phone call with John this morning, I learned that my dear friend Tara has died. She had been battling stage 4 breast cancer for 5 1/2 years, and she left behind her 4 girls and her husband Kevin. Although I knew that she was fading these past few weeks, her death has still hit me hard.  I wish I could be back home to give her daughters and Kevin hugs, and to share with them some of the stories I have of Tara.  Corell knew her as well, and we said a brief prayer outside in the cold, while others prepared to depart Namche.

It was a difficult morning for me, thinking of Tara, trying to breathe, trying to keep a pace.  Fortunately, the day was beyond gorgeous, and the morning hike was along a trail high above the river.  It was a busy day, and we must have hit Khumbu rush hour, because we were often clinging to the upside of the trail as the dzopkyos and yaks lumbered by.  I asked Phura about all the village names ending in "-buche", and he informed me that the ending "-che"' means "footprint", so therefore all the villages ending with "-che" are places where Lama Sangwa Dorje traveled. What an amazing place this is! All morning long we had views up the Khumbu valley, and they were spectacular.  Walking along these trails with Everest, Lhotse, and Ama Dablam (among others) guiding our way was magical.  I often stopped and looked back- something I don't do a lot of on the trail, and I think I need to.  I'd walk for a while, cameras at the ready, snapping away, and then turn around and my soul would soar. It is just so phenomenally beautiful here. And there has to be a better word, but I can't seem to think of one.  We began our day with a glorious, majestic peacock on the side of the road, and peacocks are, aptly, the national bird of Nepal.  Majestic bird, majestic land.  And glorious. And spectacular. We passed through more pine forests, and the shade within was most welcome as the heat of the day was also impressive.  As we passed by a tree nursery, Linden explained that there is a significant problem with deforestation here in the Khumbu as the population has increased.  Juniper is an integral part of the puja ceremonies and because of its importance, it has been raked from the countryside.

After a delicious lunch down by the river- egg and vegetable fried noodles for me!- we began our ascent up the mountain to the Tengboche monastery.  It was an arduous hike- a gazillion switchbacks- and reaching the top was a blessing.  The Tengboche monastery is the largest monastery in Nepal, but not the oldest.  There is an beautifully colored ornate entrance gate to the monastery, but we didn't enter. That'd be tomorrow's treat- afternoon prayers.  We did stop for a break at the bakery- where we enjoyed the apple pie.  (Mine is still better!)

I ended the hike with Renee- both of us singing "Amazing Grace" as we walked into Deboche. A hot shower, a hot meal, the internet, and now, hopefully again, "Ramro sanga sutnos"!

(Photos to follow...)

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