Friday April 6 - Sunday April 8
After another fitful night with that convulsant cough, I finally made it down to breakfast to say goodbye to Jeff and Linden. Lucy and Corell had been up for a while already, no real surprise, and they were mostly packed. I had yet to localize all the gear I'd spread out in an attempt to air-dry it after our soaking walk to Lukla.
Saying goodbye is not easy for me...and this one no better, except that I was able to, somehow, spare the boys my tears. Think I was too busy trying not to cough all over everyone. I had written them each a letter... a standard operating procedure for me, it seems, with them... to share some thoughts and more private thanks. As if I don't allow myself to be vulnerable enough during these climbs, I add to my vulnerability by putting thoughts into print. Some people will think me foolish, and while at times I agree, I prefer to think of all this vulnerability and owned-up-to-thoughts as keeping me "real" and honest. Guess one day I'll find out how foolish I am...
After our goodbyes, which left me in a melancholy state, it was back up to the room to pack. Lucy and Corell were finished more quickly, and checked out...while I struggled to organize my thoughts... much less my bags. (And now was the time for a few tears...) At some point, I reached a break-through moment when the end was realized, and then I went in search of Lucy and Corell. We ended up meeting by the pool for lunch, before deciding to go for a walk to Bhoudanath- the large Buddhist stupa we'd seen during our Kathmandu tour weeks before.
Since we were no longer "shopping", all our bags packed and weighed, the walk took on a different feel. The streets were so dirty, the air thick and cloudy- you could see the pollution- and so many people were wearing what I call "street masks"- surgical masks- that they used to filter the air. They were sold in streetside stalls, in produce stands, everywhere. There were surgical blue/white or green/white masks like the ones we use in the US in the ORs...but there were also masks using prints of all kinds- animals, sayings, babies... and there were masks of all sizes- for babies on up. I watched a mom and her two teens debating about which mask would work for her baby daughter- and it seemed to be a big discussion- pulling out several hangers of masks from which to choose the perfect one. Imagine living where you'd have to filter every breath you breathe? Made my cough more understandable- bronchitis inflamed by the nastiness of the streets. One more day in which we couldn't have enough hand sanitizer...like yesterday, we wanted to bathe in it!
After a couple of hours of walking around, we headed back to the hotel. I tried to avoid putting my wobbly head on the pillow and focused on finalizing packing while Lucy and Corell nibbled on petit-fours in the lobby. I finally checked out after waiting forever for the bell-hop to come and hoist my mammoth bags...and grimmace he did. We met for a dinner in the hotel restaurant, which was surprisingly good- except that I ended up leaning over and sleeping at the table. They woke me in time to meet Sigar for our ride to the airport.
The rest of the trip is somewhat of a blur...my head foggy and my patience thin...dealing with the overweight bags (go to the bank, get $600 in Rps, no USD, no Credit card...then come back...)...security checks x...3, I think...then a 5 hr flight to Doha (slept), then 6 hrs in Doha airport lounge (slept) and then the 14 hr flight to Dulles (slept, mostly). I did manage to rally to watch a film Jeff had recommended: Machine Gun Preacher- which I did find interesting and apropros of all of the talk we'd had on the trek re child slavery in Africa and elsewhere. I wouldn't call it deep sleep, but with the bronchitis and foggy brain, I was pretty out of it for most of the trip. Couldn't even keep my eyes open for the last 45 min stretch to Richmond. Our families met us just past security...and it was so wonderful to see them all! (Just wish my Blaise had been there as well- but she's off having fun in Phoenix.)
Once home, I attempted to share, but I succumbed to sleep around 11 pm, and slept until 5 pm today. So much for Easter mass- cannot believe I slept through it. Hopefully, though, I'm on the flip side of this illness, because life will come at me fast tomorrow...
As far as a "post-mortem" from the trip...haven't gotten that far. The illness has definitely slowed me down, body and brain. I'm certain that there is more, percolating around inside my cerebral vault...but it'll have to wait until thoughts coalesce. Perhaps tomorrow.
For now, it is great to be home, with family, on a real bed with fluffy-but-firm down pillows, with food I can unrestrictedly eat, and without the hand-sanitizer-paranoia that followed us throughout our trek. An amazing trip, but I'll think about it more tomorrow. For now, back to slumber land...