I’m sitting on our bed in our 3rd floor Boudhanath apartment… 100 feet outside the window are the golden roofs and deep red walls of Tharlam Monastery. A well manicured lawn with a lone Pipul tree is directly below, with several young maroon-robed monks lounging and laying in its shade finishing their picnic lunch. Massive puffy cumulus clouds billow up over the Kathmandu Valley. Dorje Lakpa and the Langtang Himal (23,000+ feet high) tower above the green hills to the North, and small propeller planes zip overhead every 10 minutes or so, shuttling trekkers and locals to and from remote mountain airstrips… Lukla, Phaplu, Tumlingtar… To the South the great stupa of Boudhanath rises up, the eyes of the Buddha peering out over the tops of densely packed apartments buildings and homes. This is our home for the next few months!
We completed our trek “Around Annapurna” 2 days ago, circling the astoundingly spectacular mountain group in 3 weeks of hiking. The diverse terrain was stunning, from steamy forests and rice paddies, to bamboo groves and pine forests, to rocky alpine talus fields with glaciers and icefalls looming just above… We explored Hindu and Buddhist villages, met thousands of cute animals that our girls wanted to adopt, and enjoyed interacting with the phenomenal range of people and cultures along the route. We are so proud of our kids, who hiked the entire way carrying their own backpacks. Only over “the pass” did we hire a porter to haul their packs, enabling them to better enjoy the magnificent but challenging ascent to the 17,500’ Thorung La. Our whole group (our family, plus friend Marcin) remained healthy throughout, and due to our slow pace and carefully planned ascent, didn’t suffer from any altitude issues. It was a wonderfully successful family adventure!
But now we’ve come home to Boudha… Our 2-bedroom apartment has a small kitchen, and Karen is currently filling it with exquisite aromas, sizzling up onions, eggplant, and carrots in a magical spice blend that our friend Satya thrust into our hands as we departed Bangalore. The kids are thrilled to have a home to return to… Sylvie, helping to stir the pot, just exclaimed, “Mom, I really LOVE cooking!!!” This morning we all awoke famished, after yesterday's 9-hour local bus ride from Pokhara… (we arrived so late that every nearby shop and restaurant was closed. Always the fatherly provider, I managed to find them cookies and apple juice for a late dinner.) But they are so excited to have a “home” that they are scurrying around organizing their space, folding clothes, and setting things up. Soon they’ll hit the hunger wall, and we’ll have a major meltdown, but for now they are so happy! And we are happy... Proud of our kids!
PHOTOS and STORIES of the TREK are coming soon! I promise! We've got a couple of thousand between us, and need to download, edit, organize and upload! And school teaching starts tomorrow!? We'll make the time...