Namche, Nepal
3:00 P.M. local time (5:15 A.M. EDT)

Today I discovered why much of the world considers Americans obnoxious. I met the one travelling husband and wife that gave us that moniker. They reminded me of Seinfeld’s parents. Seriously. While she toked on a Virginia Slim at 11,000 feet (3,353 meters), he was busy sipping his black tea (pinky extended, of course) and displaying his black stretch socks with some pretty nifty shiny sneakers. No, folks. They didn’t hike into Namche. They either:
1) Were carried up Namche Hill in a litter befitting their Lordships.
2) Flew by helicopter and landed at the small helicopter pad located close by.

My money is on number two. Though the way they were bossing around the wait staff (wait staff—like there was more than one), number one wouldn’t surprise me.

New trekkers are constantly arriving. Like Mike said in his dispatch yesterday, they all look clean and, for the most part, fresh. I guess we did too. A few weeks ago. You know, when we had a shower. Back then. When we were clean.

Seriously, it’s not that bad. We did have hot water today to wash up with, and that was a treat. We washed our hair for the first time in weeks, and actually looked presentable. I’m sporting a new goatee and, with my green fleece pullover, Mike says it makes me look like Robin Hood. What a guy. I just hope he’s referring to the Errol Flynn model, and not the Mel Brooks “Men in Tights” thing. Enough said.

Today we shopped ’til we dropped. Don’t worry Dad, no beads and rubber drums for you. We made some tremendous finds, but more importantly, made some new friends. So Heather (our virtual trekker/editor extraordinaire back at TR Base Camp), if you get that call from immigration asking about us and wondering why we’d be smuggling back Tibetan and Nepalese shopkeepers to America, just go along with it and say we’re good people, okay? Thanks!

Yange (Angie) Sherpa, an engaging young woman working behind her brother’s stand, drives some very shrewd and hard bargains at Namche Bazar.

Namche Bazar sometimes attracts odd shoppers.

Just a couple of notes: To Charles Williams and Bill H.: Thanks for the posts, guys. We really appreciate the kind words and well wishes. And yeah, Charles, you know the way down is often much more difficult than the way up—for different reasons, of course. When you’re pounding the rocks for five hours a day, the knees tend to take a little beating. A little wear and tear is fine, but it DOES add up. I think I’ll look for a high-tech alternative to knees when I get back! And congrats on the three summits of Whitney. That’s a really great accomplishment. Write me and let me know how it was. I’ve been thinking of attempting that summit myself.

Rick Marsh: Man, I don’t think we can compare our trekking (mis)adventures with your Gulf War experience, but thanks for the info and well wishes. We have had some pretty remarkable experiences. Each day we find ourselves pushing our bodies to new limits. We set our perceived limitations and then press through that self-imposed barrier daily. So in that sense, I DO know what you mean. It’s like, well, I’m up here beyond the clouds, I’m miserable. Yeah, the scenery is beautiful, but I’m just too damned tired to look up past my boot laces. But you DO go on. You DO find the strength to move one more step ahead. I mean, after all, what choice do you have, right? When you were in the Gulf, in the middle of the desert, baking in the sun and breathing all that crap, you didn’t have the option to say: “Wait! Time out. Do over. Let me out.” So you’re right. We push ahead. We look inside for reserves of strength—both physical and, for lack of a better word, spiritual. Find that inner focus and concentrate on it. Always push your mind’s limits. It’s what makes us strong. Thanks Rick. I really appreciate you following along.

Wolf McSherry: Hey, you couldn’t be more right! The technology issues are, for sure, interesting. But in the end, how does that technology get up here? That’s right. The human spirit and will. In the end, when you’re standing beneath the great Himalayan behemoths, you realize just how small you really are. Technology may get you places, but surviving is up to you alone. Wolf, thanks for helping put that into perspective.

Well, that about wraps it up for me. And yes, I ate another fantastic meal today, so the trip to Phakding tomorrow should be just a walk in the park (believe that and I’ve got some real estate to sell you). But yes, the health is returning. And I have to admit, I really have appreciated Mike’s insistence that I eat. His mothering me has helped. Just don’t tell him that, okay?

By the way, our tickets back to Kathmandu are being held in Lukla at the Sherpa Lodge. I’m carrying a letter from our Sherpa, Rudra—written in Nepalese. Oh, letters of transit to get us out of Lukla—and I’ll refrain right now from further Casablanca references (this time). We’re “assured” that the letter states who we are and to please give us our tickets and put us on the right aircraft. Uh huh. I can see it now: “Hi. We are dumb Americans. Pleased to seek employment in Shanghai.” Sherpa joke. Very funny.

Until tomorrow.

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David Bard has been a fixture at TechRepublic for some time now. At one time he was editor in chief of LinuxRepublic and then AdminRepublic. Currently, he occupies space as an editor in chief with TechProGuild. In addition, he’s a freelance writer who has covered extreme sports for years. He also is a writer of horror and—contrary to what his climbing partner may think—is hoping the expedition to Nepal doesn’t provide fodder for his next story. When he’s not at home teaching his year-and-a-half-old daughter why it’s not a good idea to eat rocks, or trying to convince his wife why yet another expedition really is necessary, he’s usually off in some remote section of woods trying to discover himself. He’s still looking.