December 8, 2011
[Note: both the previous blog and this one are being entered from a dial-up internet cafe in the Himalayas. It is probably 50 degrees in here are our fingers are getting numb (Susie and I are alternating typing). Since the connection is snail-slow, we will not be able to post any photos until later. I am just thrilled to get something up!]
Perseverance is something that we value at camp and in our family. It is a deeply valuable attribute. You can see it in the eyes of an 8-year old striving top swim a kilometer.
You can see it as a counselor strives to connect with a difficult camper or maintain the same level of energy and enthusiasm for the last class of the day as the first.
Today, I saw it in Susie’s calves.
Our first day on our Himalayan hike was a demanding one. Our guide wanted to give us an easier day to break us in. He told us this plan one hour into our hike.
“Easy? Not for this family. Let’s go big!”
Bad call. He added an additional 90 minutes to our hike with the final hour being all up a steep grade.
The total walk came in at 6 hours. It was hardest on Virginia (since she is the youngest) and Susie. Yet neither complained. They smiled and attacked the trail. At one point, I was trailing Susie and noticed extra shape in her calf muscles (she was pleased when I noticed).
I will not take you step-by-step through the experience (too many steps). Instead, let me share a few thoughts.
We stopped at least 10 times, yet we passed every single person on the trail (over 70 people). We were passed by no one ourselves.
Liam wanted to beat everyone, including our porters. He would go ahead and then wait for us to catch up and the go ahead again.
Just to annoy him., I passed him with 10 feet to go before our hotel. It I were a perfectly mature person, I would not lord my victory over my almost 15-year old son. I am not that mature. He does not find any of this as funny as I do.
Virginia does excellent vocal imitations of goats and roosters. We saw a lot of barnyard animals on this hike. She imitated virtually everyone that she saw. A few goats started to follow her on one occasion, irritating the herder in charge. I wonder what they think she said. She thinks she said, “Follow me cute goatys! We will frolic and play together in the sun!” I doubt they would have followed so enthusiastically with this invitation. I think they heard “Join my, my goat brothers and sisters - shake the tethers of your human oppressors!” (After all, it is a Maoist country right now.)
She never tires of making goat noises. Oddly enough, we quickly tire of them. Bad combo.
We have stopped in a guest house that charges less than $4 per room per night. It is the flimiest construction I have ever resided in and I’ve visited summer camps all over the nation. You can hear every conversation from every room. We really do not care, because we were planning on sparse accommodations and we’re happy to be warm. [Note: the following morning, the kids commented on their toasty beds but we disagreed and insisted it was frigid. It was then we noticed the open window that had been obscured by the hanging sheet.]
Our guide is named Kuel Doj. We’ve taken to calling him “Mr. Cool” or in camp terms “Kuel Sir”. He had proven to be worthy of his name. In addition to helping us understand the history of Nepal, the trails and the traditions of these people, he participated in our card game of Phase 10. I predict that he will be joining us for all future games.
We are joined by two porters, Raju and Durgha. We are calling our Nepalese friends “Cool and the Gang.” I am pretty sure that our animal sounds, frequent stops and odd bickering are all amusing them. I know they would amuse me. We are undoubtedly the loudest family in any language on this trail.