I can finally check having a man on a white horse ride up and save me off my bucket list. And at such a young age! (I actually know of a couple who recently got engaged like this (barf) but I am partial to my much more rugged version).
Well, he didn’t ride up to me, it was more he galloped right past our group at a million miles an hour.
“Umm, was that our horse?” I asked Ramesh, but he was too busy running and trying to flag said Prince down to answer. It would be just our luck for the one available horse to not see us and keep prancing down the mountains. Do we have this guy’s cell phone number? Does he have the address of the cabin? Does this cabin have an address?
But mysterious dreamy horseman must have heard him, because a few seconds later, he turned around and galloped back to us. He and Ramesh chatted a bit and we took a picture with him.
My mom was in impressively high spirits, and when we got to her cabin she was busy taking pictures with the woman and two little kids that lived there. (We were like, “Umm would you rather stay?”) Before we left, the woman shuffled through a drawer and took something out. It was a khata, a traditional scarf which she draped around my mom’s neck. It’s a ceremonial white silk scarf used in Nepali culture for special occasions like births, weddings, and funerals. But they are also used for departures of important guests. Nepali people are soft-spoken and meek, but this gesture screamed volumes.
We all gave her a hug and thanked her, except my dad. He hugged her and tipped her for her role in preserving what was left of the collective Anderson sanity. It’s anonymous heroes like her that save our trips when ish hits the fan, and for that I dedicate this blog to them 🙂
Ramesh paid Prince Charming and he went on his way, which meant it was up to us (read: Ramesh) to guide the horse the rest of the way down (several miles) to Lukla. My mom has been bunjee jumping, and she will tell you that taking a horse down rugged rocks, through streams and across suspension bridges all at massive inclines is scary as hell. We had to take it slow, and the horse’s knees often buckled as he struggled to make it down the unsteady path. On at least two occasions my mom almost fell off, but again, Ramesh caught her. So while we were less scared about my mom than when she first fell, this was still a bit dicey and left me feeling a tad unsettled.
But we made it down, back to Lukla for our 30 minute flight to Kathmandu. As our flight took off from the runway carved out of the mountain, I wondered two things: If the Kathmandu to Lukla flight is the most dangerous flight in the world, how dangerous is the flight back to Kathmandu? Secondly, as I looked out the window I wondered if I would ever be back. I got a little teary-eyed leaving such a beautiful, peaceful place, so far removed from places concerned with empty things like money, beauty and Suri Cruise. My dad wants to make it to Everest Base Camp someday, and I haven’t ruled out the Mount Everest Marathon. So who knows. Life has taken me stranger places before (cough, Bristol)…
Prem picked us up at the airport. Travel plans for the rest of the day included a light dinner and a trip to the hospital.
The second part didn’t sound very fun, so we ditched my mom and dad at the hospital and Ramesh and Prem took Kevin, Morgan, Tim, Deirdre and I out to explore more of Kathmandu. I thought we looked like such a funny group: five kids roaming the streets with two Nepali guys. But our protection of walking with two Nepali guys only went so far. An older guy pulled an “India” on Deirdre and walked up to her and put a Buddhist red dot on on her forehead. Deirdre was so dumbfounded she actually stood there for a few seconds before she could react. What should she say? Does she pay him? Will we all be cursed by Buddha if she wipes it off? And to top it all off, the guy demanded five rupees for it. Like really dude? I’m pretty sure you’re the one that just put a red dot on my face, you should be giving me five rupees. Luckily Ramesh came to the rescue and yelled at him. We didn’t pay. Other than that, we had a great time just walking, talking and taking in the sights and sounds of Kathmandu. In between temple and shrine visits, Ramesh kept buying us street food snacks with money that my Dad gave him. Some of the baked goods looked a little different, but we couldn’t refuse. Dad never gives us snack money.
We went to Prem’s office to hang out and talk a bit while we waited for my mom and dad to call to have us pick them up. One of Prem’s friends saw us and insisted he serve us tea. We sat there and enjoyed a lovely conversation. We talked about religion, traditions, books. Smart people things. Details escape me, but I do remember we laughed a lot. It was as refreshing as the tea.
Since Laur and Paul were taking forever, we decided to head to dinner ourselves in a nice neighborhood called Thamel. As we sat down for dinner in the garden outside, Dad called Prem to pick them up from the hospital. We were bummed they were crashing our party, but my parents were thrilled. My mom’s X-rays, drugs, shots, cast, and crutches only cost $550! Talk about the deal of your life. Next time I break my foot I’m hopping on a first-class flight to Asia and staying in a 4-star resort for three weeks, because that would still be less than what a broken foot would cost in America.
For dinner, most of us had momo, a Nepali specialty of dumplings with curry and vegetables and whatever else you please inside. delish. I told my neighbor in my apartment from Nepal how much I liked momo and she said next time I get locked out on the patio she’ll make it for me. Can’t wait.
After dinner it was time to return to our favorite airport, Tribhuvan International, for our flight back to Delhi. Prem and Ramesh piled us into their van one last time. When we got to the airport I remembered how much I hate goodbyes. Prem had printed official certificates for each of us commemorating our trek. He and Ramesh wrapped the same silk khatas my mom had gotten from her caretaker around our necks and gave us long hugs. Kevin’s parting words to Ramesh were my favorite:
“Thank you for saving our family, we couldn’t have made it without you.” Mom teared up and thanked Ramesh for carrying her up the mountain. Ramesh as his usual quiet self just smiled and nodded. We told them we’d stay in touch and send them Christmas cards so they could see what we looked like with all the novelties of Western grooming.
Ramesh didn’t seem too interested in our Christmas card, “We can see your hearts just the same.”
<insert heart melting here>
Ramesh was the real Prince Charming of the day.