On the way back to the guest house, I notice a sign nailed to a tree. It’s an arrow and painted crudely it says, “toilet.com.” The dot com craze reach never ceases to amaze me.
We walk along the ridge, an easy walk, staring at the peaks along the way, the changing colors of the leaves on the trees, orange, yellow, red; the winding river below; the occasional waterfall; the intense brightness of the morning sun shining on all of this. We pass so many stupas, and prayer wheels, and prayer flags. It seems the higher we get, the closer people feel to a higher being.
We walk, and walk, and walk. We come upon a lone restaurant. “Hungry?” Min asks. “Yes,” I say and start towards the restaurant. He hesitates. “Maybe too crowded.” I look at the 10 or so people seated on the patio enjoying food. “Where, then?” “Next restaurant. Ten minutes away.” I look, and see nothing in my immediate line of vision. “Really?” I question. :”Yes. Ten minutes.” “Okay,” I say, and we continue.
Ten minutes later I’m staring at fields of yellow wheat and red buckwheat. “Min! Where’s the restaurant?” He laughs. “Ten minutes.” I’m annoyed. I’m hungry, I’m tired, my feet hurt and I’m not my happy self. I know this and I try not to be nasty. Ten minutes later, I’m staring at a landslide and dry rocks for as far as the eye can see. “Min! Where’s the restaurant?” He laughs. “Ten minutes.” I am so annoyed. “Min!” I feel like stomping my foot and throwing down my walking stick, but I don’t. I simply keep walking, wondering how many more “ten minutes” away the restaurant is.
Twenty minutes later we arrive at the restaurant. I can’t face another plate of rice. I order a mushroom veggie burger. Two patties smothered in yak cheese, no mushrooms, no bread, arrive. I fell like a spoiled brat. I want to say, “This is NOT what I ordered,” but I don’t. I eat it and am thankful.
We arrive to Manang. We go to the guest house where Min always stays and are told there are no rooms. He speaks to some porters on the path in Nepali then turns to me. “Very crowded. No rooms. Maybe you sleep with a stranger.” I’m completely annoyed. How can there be no rooms at 2 pm in one of the larger towns on the trek? I’m tired, I don’t feel well, and I’m fighting tears. “I don’t believe you.” In his mild mannered voice, Min says, “The porter says…” I interrupt him. “How far is the next town?” “Maybe one hour.” I know this means two or three. I’m adamant. “Then we will walk. Come on.” He does not like the idea. I know he wants to stay in Manang. This is our “rest” place, where we will spend two nights to acclimatize to the altitude. I know he wants to be in the same place as his porter/guide friends. I know his brother will be coming through tomorrow with another group. I also know I want a room to sleep in. I hear him speak. “No, I think you are too tired.” “Min, I don’t care how tired I am. I want a place to sleep tonight. If we can’t find one here, we walk.” He starts to talk in Nepali with the other guides. I start walking to the next guest house. He quickly follows. There are no rooms. We go to the next guest house. I see there are rooms, based on the open padlocks on the doors. We speak to the owner. I can tell he is reluctant to rent the room; I don’t know why. He relents. It is abominable. It is dirty, the walls are cracked and there are bugs. But it is a room. I lay down on my sleeping bag and cry.