Visiting the Villages around Namche
A thunderstorm swept in yesterday evening, enveloping the peaks across the valley in thunder and lighning, giving us a spectacular lightshow from the rooms of our teahouse. Thin, whispy clouds wrapped around the summits were all that were left of the faroff storm this morning. Leaving Namche as the sun crept into town, we climbed a series of switchbacks out of the bowl in which Namche sits and up to Syangboche, a collection of a few homes perched on the plateau above town and where a dirt airstrip is found. Closed for several years to planes and accessible only by helicopter, the Syangboche strip was recently reopened to cargo flights in a small single prop plane that has been busy ferrying construction supplies - rebar, lumbar, and plastic piping. Continuing across the airstrip and into a small forest of juniper we traversed the hilly plateau to a prominent outcropping on the northeastern side. There, sitting amongst the pines, sits the Mount Everest View Hotel, a large hotel built by the Japanese several years ago that features oxygen and pressurized rooms, in addition to spectacular views of Cholatse, Everest, Lhotse, and Ama Dablam. While Cholatse and Ama Dablam were visible the Everest / Lhotse Massif was cloaked on clouds, lifting only ocassionally to reveal it’s steep rock and ice slopes. We sat down to a cup of tea on the back porch waiting in hopes the clouds would lift but they never did.
Leaving the sunny backporch of the Mount Everest View Hotel, we dropped into a shallow valley to the north, where the villages of Khumjung and Khunde are found. Although close to Namche, they couldn’t be more different, as far as Sherpa villages go. Compared to Namche, steep, narrow, busy streets full of commerce, Khumjung and Khunde’s big fields, winding footpaths, and quiet streets offer a very different experience. As we walked through Khumjung the path in front of us began to fill with children, running towards us, giggling and playing as they walked by, with their schoolbooks tucked under their arms. Soon we came to the grounds of the Hillary School in Khumnjung, the largest school in the area serving primary through high school grades. Classes had just finished for the morning and many of the students were returning home for lunch.
After visiting the school’s grounds, we continued onto Khunde, just a few minutes walk away where we stopped in at the Hillary Hospital there - both organized and funded by Sir Edmund Hillary. While at the hospital a patient arrived carried by the local ambulance, a pony. He was quickly escorted in while his ride waited patiently outside.
We returned to Namche by climbing over the hills from Khunde, past rows and rows of Mani stones, and dropping down the steep hillsides into Namche. We relaxed for the rest of the afternoon, walking through Namche, catching up on reading and writing, and savoring a last hot shower.
Tomorrow we climb further up the valley to the small village of Deboche, located in the shadow of the Tengboche Monastery, the largest in the region. We will do our best to keep you updated to our progress as we move higher.
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