Up and At ‘Em

Lately, it’s occurred to me
What a long, strange trip it’s been.
‘Truckin’- The Grateful Dead

“Doesn’t Dad weigh about,like ninety pounds now?”, my son Adam asked my daughter Rachelle from the outback in Australia where he has been working on a sheep ranch. He and Rachelle had been messaging, or whatever you call it, on Facebook.
“I told him that you had put on most of the weight you had lost on your trek in Nepal,” Rachelle informed me. “But I also said that you hadn’t speeded up any, either. Remember that last trip to Costco when we were grocery shopping and you walked into the freezer area to pick up some milk and eggs, I think it was. Do you remember the sloth in the movie ‘Zootopia’? I told him that you moved at exactly the same speed.”

Maybe some old injuries and illnesses have something to do with this present sad state of affairs. If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, then the roads through the Himalayas are not paved at all. That was my first thought as we set out on our first morning of actual trekking. The previous night spent at the teahouse of the laughing-man-peeling-potatoes had been surprisingly pleasant and comfortable, with a large and delicious breakfast on outdoor tables overlooking a fast-moving river and a suspension bridge. It was the first of many that we would have to cross, so many that Ieven began to think of myself as a bow-legged, limping Indiana Jones. And across from this rushing river was a very large and ornate modern edifice. “What’s that?” I asked our host.
“Chinese government building,” came back the answer. Apparently these structures are now all over Nepal, as Chinese expansionism has not limited itself to Tibet. I couldn’t help thinking that Nepal could use its own version of Donald Trump and I pictured a large, orange-coiffed Nepalese with a golf club in his hand, tweeting out nightly about the need to build a wall and keep out the Chinese. Maybe he could even get the Chinese to build it, seeing as how they’d already had the experience a few thousand years ago.

Thank God, however, that I was finally away from Trump coverage twenty-four seven. We aimed to spend the night at a place called Ghermu. The first couple of hours were pleasant with vistas that reminded me of the Swiss Alps,but my mind jumped ahead to what could be considered as possible Terrors of the Trek. Such things as earthquakes, Yeti the Abominable Snowman and spending time twenty-four seven with your spouse.

I of course include my own company in this nightmare scenario. Was it only yesterday that my loving daughter remarked in the middle of a grocery-shopping expedition that “I can only take you in small doses, Dad.”

My mind was brought back to the moment by jeeps roaring by raising dust. Washing clothes could be a problem for us, I mused, but then almost immediately we passed by a woman doing laundry in a washtub with her feet, a cigarette stuck in the middle of her mouth and a big smile on her face. So that was good… I would not be stuck wearing dusty clothes throughout the next three weeks. I wondered if the North American media machine could get womenkind…oops… I meant humankind, adopting this new and very practical method of low-impact aerobics.

The village of Gherma was still several hours ahead and apparently there were lots of teahouses from which to choose, not just the one recommended in ‘Lonely Planet.’ We kept on walking, Brenda usually outpacing my limping, bow-legged gait. My arthritic knees made me feel like the crippled kid who couldn’t keep up in the Grimm Brothers’ Fairy Tale ‘The Pied Piper of Hamelin.’
O.K. … I’m showing my age with that particular turn of phrase.
I was walking like a special needs child.
One day down, eighteen more to go.

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