Up at 6 – ankle still hurting and can’t walk on it properly. Insurance definitely won’t cover anything.
It was a long, arduous journey down. The ankle began to improve eventually though I went over it again a couple of times, including once badly just before lunch at Phakding. Still getting used to the Nepalese version of ‘flat’.
The last hour before Lukla was gradual climb and I perspired more in this period than at any other time during the trek. In the final twenty minutes, I was being caught up by some of the Newcastle contingent and convinced myself that this was now somehow a race to the finish line. This is something that shouldn’t really be done on a long endurance trek such as this, but I was really dying for ‘it all’ to be over. Reached Tara Lodge and collapsed unceremoniously on a bench in the tea room. That’s enough exercise for a year now, I should think.
We tipped the porters and sherpas in the evening after dinner. They are paid 700 Rs a day, 600 of which goes to food expenses, so they make a pittance. Tips make all the difference. The smiles were abundant and each of them went around the room to shake our hands while clutching their right arms above the elbow with the left hand – a sign of the utmost respect and honour. Dawar and Prakash were tipped equally and Nyema the most with a round of applause and hugs galore. We really have been treated like kings.
Kelly came to my room later and we had a long chat about the trip. Having seen the expressions of gratitude on the faces of the porters, she seems to feel rather guilty of her own privilege. She kept repeating the tip amount “thirty dollars” in sort of awed disbelief, knowing how much it was worth to her in Britain in comparison to a porter in Nepal.
I must say. I’m glad in a way, that she was upset by the realisation. It means she’s taken the situation on board and that, I think, makes all the difference. Awareness, especially in people as young as us is just as, if not more valuable than, the money we raise.