Ok, observations, ponderings and insights point by point. (My blog notebook is absolutely scrawled with words and phrases jotted down throughout today’s and earlier day’s treks; what easier way than to list?). 


1. My way of processing sensational scenes is to liken them to something familiar to myself. Being more on the creative side, such similes often take on quite descriptive terminology that can often be rather gag-inducing for the reader. Apologies in advance, and bear with me.

Yesterday after our first descry of Everest, we walked our way alongside (well, it was a good 20km away) this insane mountain. I just gazed at it in absolute awe until it clicked exactly what it looked like. 
A fucked up chocolate brownie. One that had been misprepared in the batter stage, and had come out of the oven with parts hard as rock and others runny and streaming through. The tips were dusted by a very awry sift; dumping dosings of “icing sugar” in some areas while others had a sparse sprinkling. Incredible. 
Today there was a point of descent where the landscape below was laid out like a rug my brother Michael used to have in his bedroom. It was printed with a little flat town, whereby we would snake our toy cars around the “roads”. I was instantly transported back to the hours playing with my big bro and I actually got a little teary. I promised myself then and there that on return home, I’m going to make a point (they just keep coming) of taking Michael out for a beer every so often to bond. My relationship with him needs a bit of love.

A mountain in the distance today had a snow pattern that looked like someone had scraped the side of a piece Russian fudge with their teeth, indenting with inscissors. A stretch of a nestling village sprawled like a little Monopoly town, the buildings almost indentical to the little board game hotels. A little hut produced one of the best puns I’ve ever come up with: clapping eyes on its weetbix-like appearance, I nodded mock knowingly and said, “Must be a sanitarium”. Golden. 

And everytime I turned a corner? Remember those old school view finders that looked like a set of binoculars? It was like flicking through fifteen thousand different frames. This is literally and figuratively (sorry to constantly reuse and reuse the phrase) the most breath taking journey; I’m more breathless than I’ve ever been in my life from eye sight experience and exertion.

And literally just then, I went outside to brush my teeth under the velvet night sky. I was spellbound by the stars, scattered all over the show. I suddenly remembered the storyline of a school journal story that I probably haven’t thought about in a good decade. A set of siblings were going to go camping with their father, but one fell ill and was unable to attend. Long story short, when the unsick sibling returned home marvelling about the starry night sky he showed his sister what it looked like through sprinkling salt all over a black plate. It was exactly what the mural above looked like. 

I don’t know when linking everything visual to something in likeness to comprehend for my memory bank started, but being here has it going galore. 

2. Short and sweet: two days ago we pleasantly plodded past a patch of sunflowers. I was warmed with thoughts of Deb, and our annual towering garden of sunflowers we used to have when we lived in Garden Road (oh so fitting). (In Beere Place, Heineken – or was Hank still on Export Gold then? – was a staple in the fridge). (Actually, that is the case in every place of residence). 

3. At a tea break yesterday I needed to pee, but the upstairs toilet was in use. Sanjay led me to an outside wooden hut and apologetically warned me, “It’s quite basic.” 

Mate, I’m a Wortman. Taking the long-drop throne for a good thirty minutes with a book and a tarpaulin strategically draped around my fanny region at the River is in my blood. 

I’m so grateful to Deb and Hank for bringing me up from a young age going camping minus all the creature comforts. I can easily go without, while I remember at Baradene year 10 camp being amazed at some of the girls’ inability to live on the wild side (the literal one). I haven’t showered or bathed other than thorough wet wipe washes in six days and I’m still feeling fairly fresh. 
I’d been warned the tea houses on this trek were extremely basic and not to expect much, so I’d envisioned the absolute pits. Ramshackle shacks with us all shivering in our sleeping bags in draughty communal lodging. So I have been extremely pleasantly surprised at the cute little cabins complete with furry blankets, whimsical mountain views out the windows and at one place of stay, 101 Dalmation curtains. So homely! 

4. We are so at the mercy of Mother Nature. Unbelievably so. Humans may claim territory, plant their roots into her foundations, but she has the ultimate say-so.


We are constantly crossing landslides. We can see monstrous ones from afar, and be in the midst of some in our meanderings. It’s ridiculous. The absolute demolition of the side of mountains is so extreme. But it’s not scary. It’s almost thrilling. 
The other day we walked around a big Buddha statue, and the cracks and crumbling from the earthquake were clearly visible. Not just little hairlines; these were deep crevices in the concrete. And this was one solid foundation, not some rickety monument.

Kathmandu has been fairly cleaned up since the devastating disaster, but up here in the hills the ruins are right there. Instead of blocking it out and looking away to send away the sadness, I stand and drink it in. I allow myself to feel. It’s heartbreaking. 

As a kid I was always terrified of volcanoes. Floods. Fires. Living in Wellington I used to freak out a volcano would sprout and erupt; it would honestly cause me so much grief and upset.

I suddenly see now that anxiety has always been a significant part of my life, it’s just come out in alternative avenues. It’s amazing. It actually makes me feel better about myself, as I can look back and clearly see times when it overtook me. I wasn’t crazy; I was just overcome with irrational nerves. 

But instead of being scared here, so susceptible to the elements, I don’t feel fear. I feel the thrill. 

At the end of the day when Mother Nature gurgles, groans and has a tantrum, she is the ultimate decider. 

5.  Every morning Daniel delivers me some diamox. An acclimitaisation aid, I started taking it a few days ago in a bid to ward off any unwelcome AMS. I’ve started referring to him as Dirty Dan the Drug Dealer as he pops a pill on my plate every AM. 

When taking diamox, you need to drink absolutely eons of H20. Already recommended to be downing at least four litres a day when not on the medication, I’m hitting a good six to seven. I have never urinated so much in my life, and I am quite the wee-wee-er. And it’s unbelievably crystally clear; I bet if you tested it against the highest mountain spring its purity would be on par. 

6. Fun fact: Everest is the only mountain in the Himalayan hills that is named after a person. The fella is Sir George Everest, one of the Directors of Survey of India. 

I really like this as well: Everest is referred to as the “third pole”. For some reason that makes me feel the same tingle I do when I come across an exceptional pun or alliterative sentence. 

Also: trekked past the highest runway in the world at 3700m. Government owned, it is no longer used to fly in trekkers as often as the sprawling villages below were losing too much income. 

7. Some sayings we have embraced along the road: “Jam jam” meaning “Let’s go” and (with all of us unwashed) “If I smell you I’ll tell you”. 

8. Shit that Kiwi patriotism is coming out full force. Sir Edmund is everywhere with photos, posters and things named after him. The other day we strolled through “Hilary School”. Even in my Thamel hotel room photos of him adorned the walls. It’s pretty bloody fantastic. 

9.  And here we come to Hilary’s main man, Tenzing Norgay (1914-1986). The Sherpa who shielded and shepherded Sir Ed up to the summit. The National Park Museum boasts a massive bronze statue of Norgay, and at one little stop-off point I came across a little placard that warmed my soul. Terming Tenzing as the “Tiger of the Snow”, James Ramsay Ultman stated the following: 

“Tenzing is the manifestation of a godhead, an avatar of Lord Shiva, a reincarnation of Buddha. For those too sophisticated to confuse man with deity, he is a mortal figure of supreme significance. Symbolically as well as literally, Tenzing on Everest was a man against the sky, virtually the first humbly born Asian in all history to attain world stature and world reknown. And for other Asians his feat was not the mere climbing of a mountain, but a bright portent for themselves and for the future of their world.”

How beautiful is that? And I was so glad to read that he was named as one of Time magazine’s most 100 influential people of 20th century. Sir Edmund Hilary is a superstar, but Mr Norgay was his guiding light. 

10. After two days with no wifi or reception, I got a fleeting signal on my birthday to contact Deb and Opa. A barrage of FB notifications and emails came through and I was so overwhelmed I just switched it off. 

I decided a self-imposed out-of-circulation situation was the go. As it’s happened, I’ve had no choice as yet; no signal has meant no choice. All I’d like it for is to upload my posts (there is going to be an absolute data dumping once wifi is found) and to check in with the parentals here and there. 

The other day there was a sudden cry of, “Reception!”. The boys all dove for their devices. I automatically reached to get mine then thought fuck it. I want to be lost in the magic of the mountains, not my mobile. 

11. It’s funny, the boys keep going on about getting a tan. And me, the biggest bronzer out, is lathering on the 50 SPF lotion like no tomorrow. However my hands are sporting a sensational reddish tinge; my application didn’t extend to my phalanges and the sun got the better of me. 

12. When we were little, Hank used to always make us tuck our skivy in our undies to keep warm. As I got older, I stopped such shenanigans, mocking my father for his continued doing-so. However, here? My thermals are in my knickers morning, noon and night. 

13. Speaking of under garments: I highly dislike wearing bras. I heavilly dislike (see my exclusion of “hate”?) the restriction and tightness of them on my body. But here my bra is staying on twenty–four-seven. And often undies too! 

14. Last but not least by any means. At the hotel upon our cancelled flight the other night, we’d all wished “sweet dreams” and retired to our respective rooms. I was reading through the service menu and needed to share a few with the girls, so I trotted the ten metres or so in my undies to show them. 

When I knocked and called out there was a lull before the door was opened by Sarah just sticking her head out. She burst out laughing and opened the door fully; the two of them were also in their jocks. They’d just been deciding whether they’d need to put pants on for my presence, and here I was without mine. And the Undie Party was born!

Pop on point.

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