Airport, round two.
We found a good posy to perch on where no arm barriers meant we could recline if we should feel the need.
We settled down, prepped for a fair few hour wait. One woman was back for the fifth day in a row. Although Tegan had a feeling in her waters, we weren’t too optimistic.
All of a sudden, six minutes or so after settling, Ram gestulated with glee: “Let’s go!” We were shellshocked for a moment, then frantically grabbed all our belongings and hustled to the bus.
We let ourselves get to 18 per cent on the excitement ratio. We’d been sheparded onto the Tarmac yesterday, all set to sail, only to be returned to the terminal after ten minutes. No, today we were veterans; the clapping and cheering wouldn’t start until we were landed in Lukla.
“Go go go!” Hurried the hostess. It was like a full-on army drill. Once the go-ahead comes, these guys don’t fuck around. We catapulted onto the plane and I managed to bags a seat on the left, apparently the best spot for scenery. Josh flurried a sip of Glenn Fiddich from his hipflask; rather than toasting the journey however, he was setting fire in his belly to qualm the queasiness.
Up in the air was another world. The sun was rising and lighting up the melted marshmallow mattress of clouds so they glimmered and glistened. The mountainous range in the distance looked like a rocky road chocolate brownie, decadent and dusted with icing sugar. It was magic.
Excitement ratio moved up to 65 per cent.
The enthralment turned to a touch of apprehension as the landing approached. Lukla is regarded as the most dangerous airport in the world, with the runway one-tenth of the standard size. It also stops just short of a massive cliff face. (Captain Richard Moloney, I’d love to land this with you).
I gaged the pilot (a mere few metres ahead of me; the cockpit curtains stayed parted for the journey) and wondered how many times he’s made the descent. While not seeming cocky (sorry, I just had to) he seemed confident as he wiped the windscreen with a cloth. Well mate, we were all in his hands now.
We lowered over forestry green gullies shrouded with mystical mist, the plane jerking and jostling. Little pockets of human life could be seen nestling in the hillsides, like little Lego Land creations. A rushing river snaked in twists and turns through the terrain. I felt like I was leafing through a calender of sensational sights at every step.
The runway rose ahead (literally, it is on a rise). I was ecstatic, the nerves completely dispelled. If I died on descent, I’d pass on peaceful.
With a big, big bump we hit the ground, cheering and wolf whistling all round. We were in Lukla baby!
I’m prepped. I’m pumped. Excitement set at 100 per cent. Let’s do this.