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Reaching For The Sky - Part 5

2016 09 13

So That-Man and i set off for Kathmandu, Nepal more than a month ago. Our plan was to train as much as possible on terrain as steep and high as we could find in order to prepare for the Annapurna Circuit. As both of us have a long way to go towards peak fitness levels, we thought the best strategy would be to train in Nepal. This way we could focus on the cardio-vascular, strength and endurance aspects of our exercise regime. Maybe we could even slip in some high-altitude training hikes.

Arriving late evening on 5 August, our plan WAS to rest a day or two and then get hiking. Please note the use of the past tense in the previous sentence, as the plan we HAD, fell apart like a buttermilk rusk that’s been forgotten in a cup of coffee.

Even before we left Kimberley, a nasty post-nasal drip buried its claws firmly into my throat. Packing into the wee hours of the night and getting up way before sunrise to catch an early morning flight left us with around 3 hours’ sleep. Our three-stage flight plan turned into four stages due to an accident on the Dubai airport runway, which meant more time spent in hot, dry, airplane climates, alternating with hot, humid Middle Eastern weather for only a few steps between the plane and the hyper-air-conditioned buses that transferred us to and from the airport terminals. The change in flight plans also broke the anticipated long lay-over in Dubai airport (with reclining chairs, where we would be able to catch a wink) into much shorter stops in three different terminals. Only one of those terminals had recliners, and we could only use those for a short while. Please allow your imagination to run wild regarding the state in which we arrived in Kathmandu.

After a futile wait for our luggage, That-Man was delegated to represent us in the mad mob of people waiting to complete a claim form for those misplaced suitcases. After exchanging a few Euros for Rupees and finding our taxi, we arrived at the guest house somewhere around midnight, 41 hours since our previous encounter with a bed. Tired, ill and uncertain as to whether our luggage would be found, we dived into our beds to sleep until whenever.

The next morning saw one of the rarest moments in human history: That-Man slept until 11:00, almost 30 minutes later than his usually-sleepier-half. Both of us had packed a change of clothes into our cabin bags, as we’d initially planned to change halfway through our journey. Fortunately we suspected that the chaos at the airports might result in a higher-than-usual probability of lost luggage, and we refrained from our initial plan. (Who would have the energy with this kind of trip, anyways?) So we could at least shower and change into some fresh clothes. Then we set off to find a restaurant for lunch and buy some groceries. Even though we theoretically knew which season it was in Nepal, the heat and humidity almost overwhelmed me while we walked with face masks to filter out the dust and pollution. Breathing is much more difficult when you add several obstacles to it (early stages of Bronchitis, humidity and obstructing your nose and mouth.) By the time we reached the guest house that afternoon, we fell into our beds for a second night of peaceful sleep.

The next day arrived. That-Man set off to exchange money for our rent and to find our suitcases. i remained in bed, gasping for air in between bouts of coughing and sneezing. That-Man returned without suitcases. It was evening and it was morning, and so arrived day three. That-Man was dispatched to apply for sim cards at the local network provider, and to find our suitcases. i was chained to my bed. Choosing between sitting (and not being able to sleep) and lying down (and not being able to breathe) was difficult, but both of these involved staying in bed, so i didn’t move. That-Man returned with our suitcases!

By day four That-Man had been infected by his iller-half, and we both opted for a day indoors. On day five we were invited by a group of friends for coffee. We just barely made it in and out of the coffee shop alive, found our way to the closest pharmacy and trudged back to the comfort of our beds with a bag full of tablets, paid for with an astonishingly small amount of Rupees. The next two days were spent nursing our feeble immunity systems. On day eight we felt some energy return to our bodies and ventured out a bit, but were glad to return and rest again. By day ten That-Man had contracted some indigestion (read “stomach flu”), so we set off once again to a pharmacist and brought home something similar to Rehidrat. That-Man mixed it with the indicated amount of water, but could only bring himself to drink one sip of it. Now, you know something is really, truly awfully inedible when That-Man won’t have it.

By now the term “cabin fever” is the most understatedly understatement of the millennium, and even though we were still feeling weak, we set off that evening in search of a coffee shop to get out of the room. Day eleven was spent resting again, and during the next two days we spent some time exploring the neighbourhood and setting up our quarters. It was around day fourteen that we first ventured out of the house with the goal of getting some exercise. Two whole weeks after we arrived, we were finally using our brand spanking new hiking shoes for their intended purpose: hiking.

Other articles in this series include:

Reaching For The Sky - Part I

Reaching For The Sky - Part IV

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