Mera Peak - Finishing

One of the special things about trekking in Nepal is the sense of community you have with other trekkers.  Because we had come down a day ahead of schedule we had an extra day in Lukla, a Lukla which was filling up with trekkers whose flights had been cancelled by the bad weather.  So we had an extra day to get stressed about our own flight but also an extra day to exchange stories with other walkers in town, most of whom had come down from Everest Base camp. So it was talking and not walking while we waited.

The weather was bad, there were only a couple of flights all day, and if asked to do a risk assessment on the next day's weather and chances of a flight out then it wouldn't be good.  If you miss your slot than you go to the bottom of the list and have to wait for everyone else before your turn comes around.  It could hardly be more stressful.

A Twin Otter hits the run-way
Still the sense of community and the stories exchanged helped pass the day; first in the coffee bar through the morning before lunch and then in the bar in the afternoon, playing pool as we waited for dinner.  We learned about the school party on the Everest trail who somehow didn't know that you shouldn't drink the local water. I was surprised that only half the party got ill. We heard about the German trekker who had a heart attack and died on Kala Patthar; and about the depth of snow that forced the party trying to cross the Cho La Pass to turn back.  In exchange we told people about our two nights at High Camp, about the two feet of snow, about the new crevasse near the top of Mera, and of course I embellished the story of my own descent into the underworld.

After our failure to get our act together the night before with the departing porters we made amends on our last night in Lukla.  All the kitchen porters, a couple of the remaining porters and the guides joined us after dinner.  Jangbu spoke to them and told them, in Nepalese, how we wanted to say thank you and, although I'm not sure precisely what he said, they listened to every word. Nigel then spoke on our behalf and again Jangbu translated and again this seemed to strike exactly the right note.  The tips were handed out and somehow our gratitude for what the porters and guides had done for us seemed to have been communicated, and their expressions showed that were very happy.

The sense of bonhommie then translated itself into dancing and general frivolities.  Nepalese men love to dance and we were all sucked in.  There were some other groups in the tea house and they too were dragged into the party - it was a great way to finish the trip.

In the morning the weather picked up and flights started to arrive from about 6.30am.  As the clouds gathered our fingers remained well and truly crossed and when poor weather down the valley stopped flights for an hour we became genuinely stressed again.  You could almost hear the cheers across the town as flights resumed.  We we were soon in the airport, on the runway, clambering into our tiny Twin Otter and on our way back to Kathmandu and home.
At the front of the queue

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