We get up at a leisurely pace. Today, on the final day of trekking, we have a relatively short trek. First, I drain the blister on my right foot and dress it with moleskin and bandage. Fortunately, this is the first and only time I needed moleskin on this trek. Also, we didn’t need any of the medications we brought with us, except Diamox, which we used during the last two days of the ascend.
At breakfast time we see Dorjee in the dining room. We ask him about his rescue mission, which we had heard from Ngima when we were on our way to the basecamp. He tells us that the Trekker was in a lodge at Phakding, not at Namche as we had thought. She had a heart problem, and Dorjee carried her on a stretcher to a hospital in Lukla. It took him an hour and a half for the trip. Twelve days later, she is still in the hospital, recovering. We pose for a photograph with Dorjee, bid him farewell and leave the lodge around 9 am.
I try to keep up with Ngima and Rahul. But my efforts fail after the first twenty minutes of the trek. At the first uphill climb, they forge ahead. Again, Ngima helps when the steps are too steep, going downhill.
When we reach the outskirts of Lukla we find terraced farms and residences at a distance. Finally, we reach the gate at Lukla, three and a half hours after we left Phakding. Around ten trekkers are standing in line at the check post, getting their papers checked before entering the trail.
We go straight to Everest Lodge Restaurant and Bar, located near Lukla airport. Ngima is going to spend the rest of the day with his sister, who lives in Lukla. Pramod will be our acting guide during Ngima’s absence. Rahul and I eat lunch and leave the lodge to look around Lukla.
Most of Lukla is located around a half-mile stretch of the trail that goes from Tenzing-Hillary airport to the National Luminary Pasan Lhamu Memorial Gate. The trail here is wide and well-paved. Numerous cafe’s, restaurants, lodges, and gift shops are located by the sides of the trail. There are no vehicles of any kind on the trail, of course. We can hear the chatter of children playing nearby. It is cold and drizzling. Rahul spots a Starbucks, and we decide to go there for coffee. It is a well stocked and modern coffeeshop that offers free Wifi, although it does not look like an authentic Starbucks coffeeshop. Two young women in their early thirties manage the counter. The stern looking one might be the owner, I guess. We order cappuccino and cafe Americano.
Two young German men are the only other customers in the shop. Four lamas in ochre robe are sitting at the far end of the room, performing a ceremony by reciting scripture. It appears that they are the owner’s guests. After a while the owner brings them food, traditional local food, not coffeeshop food. After eating the food, the lamas continue to recite scripture. One of the Germans, perhaps a photographer, moves closer to the lamas, sits on the floor and starts taking their photographs. Soon the owner comes back with a baby, presumably hers. The main lama blesses the owner and her baby. He uses a large wooden contraption for blessing them. We get second cups of coffee and continue to sit in the coffeeshop. We have nothing else to do. We cannot walk around because it is drizzling and it is cold. Two other customers walk in. They are also Germans. After a while, we leave the coffeeshop. We walk slowly back to our lodge, occasionally looking at things kept for sale in the shops by the sides of the trail.
In the evening, we go down to the dining hall. Pramod is in charge of ordering the food for us. We decide to order non-vegetarian food, which we haven’t eaten since we started on the trek. Rahul orders a yak sizzler, and I order a chicken sizzler. Rahul decides to have a beer and offers one to Pramod. He says “no” at first, but accepts the offer eventually. In a while, the sizzlers are served, and they taste good. Pramod talks to us about his life. He had gone to Malaysia looking for work. He didn’t have much luck there and returned to Nepal a few years back. He has been working as a porter ever since. This is not a well paying job, and he would like to move on. We tell him that he will do well as he is smart and personable. After all the trekking company owner Madhav also started out as a porter, we tell him. He smiles and says that it is not that easy. After dinner, when he is ready to take leave, we thank him and hand him his tip with a thank-you note. He gets up from his seat and profusely thanks us. Just then Ngima returns and joins us. He asks Pramod why he had to drink beer. Pramod smiles and bids us farewell. Ngima explains the plans for tomorrow morning. We need to leave the lodge by 5 am to catch the first flight. The later flights are unreliable. We go back to our room.
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