I wake up in the middle of the night to use the toilet. As I swing my legs over the edge of the bed, I tumble. My legs are paralyzed with pain. My quadriceps and calves refuse to work. This is the first time during the entire trip I’ve been sore so I’m surprised. I pick myself up off the floor and make my way to the bathroom.
After breakfast I tell Min I’m ready to go to the temple, as he had suggested the previous day. “No. No temple. No time,” he says without looking at me. “But yesterday you said. You said we’d go after breakfast.” He shakes his head no. I want to go to the temple. He stands there, looking at the ground. I give up. We set out with the rest of the group to Kagbeni.
The terrain is markedly different from before Thorong La Pass. Before, there was greenery, trees, waterfalls, wildlife. Here, there are dusty rocks. It appears to be a wasteland, virtually no life whatsoever.
We arrive to Kagbeni. We have a cup of tea then explore the town, what was once a stronghold of the Tibetan empire. There is a monastery with beautiful masks and statues of Buddha. There are goats, and cows, and horses. There is a Yak Donald’s – the sign printed in a very familiar gold and red.
We make our way to Jomson to have lunch. For some reason I thought it was a 1 ½ hour trip. It was almost 3 hours. Shortly into our walk the winds pick up. For the next 6 hours we are walking into a strong headwind. Each time we take a step downward, my thighs scream with pain.
I’ve tied my bandanna around my hair to keep my scalp from burning – my sunhat continues to blow off with the strong winds. I wish I had another bandanna to wrap around my nose and mouth, bandit style. The dust stirred up by the gusty winds are almost unbearable.
In Jomson we walk through town to get to the restaurant where the guides want to eat. We pass the Army Mountain Warfare Training Unit, heavily guarded by military. I want to take a picture, but think better of it.
We finally arrive to Marpha, our destination for the evening. I’ve never been so happy to reach somewhere. Marpha is famous for its apples. For dinner we order homemade house wine. I’m envisioning a slightly sweet, appley concoction. What arrives is a clear liquid that tastes like Xerox cleaning fluid. We set it aside and order apple cider instead.
I have a hot shower for the first time on this trip. Oh, what I’ve taken for granted…