“real generosity to the future lies in giving all to the present.”
Finally made it, arrived Sunday evening about 7:45 and out of customs immigration by 8:30. 3 cab drivers wanted to give me rides but finally someone with my name on a card found me. He had been looking for someone with a big bike box.
And immediate sense of Nepal is different. Tv screens advertise cell phones but the official stuff is still just on a sign. Paid for my visa then onto customs to get the visa where as soon as my passport went on scanner the power went out, leaving a room of several hundred people in the dark. Lasted only a short time but the computers were not working, so we waited for 5-10 minutes for the system to kick in. Always a concern when waiting for a customs officer to give that magic stamp of the passport. Something about customs officers: they always seem bored and they know they have the power.
Nima Sherpa arrived who is our lead outfitter, guide, guru. As the fellow who had my name said he is the big boss. Turns out he has a niece in Bethel, Alaska and a brother in Portland. Nima and I talked while the driver navigated the maze of streets.
I seemed to notice Kathmandu is cleaner although driving on the streets is third world and not for the faint of heart. Driving regulations seem to be only general advisories. Which side of the street seems determined by which side has room and getting through an intersection is a matter of just get out there and keeping moving. And as in 1992 if someone or thing is blocking the way or in threat of being hit, notify them with the horn. Just do not hit a cow. My body was on high alert for the drive although that is dumb sitting in the back.
And Kathmandu seemed cleaner more orderly, then we entered Thamel the tourist district with crowded streets cars people shops even inside the car there was a cacophony of sound. Ones senses are assaulted. No peace and quiet here.
Arrived at hotel where Nima made arrangements for my bags to go to room and out from the restaurant walk Buck and Rein. I said I would come down as eat I as wanted to check the room. Rein gave me the key as I will be rooming with him. In my wanderings I came across Michelle and Chad. They had arrived a couple days ago to explore Kathmandu. Oh my gosh, the trip is happening.
Buck is the person who has put this together. Last October he was here climbing and met Nima. He had inquired if he could put together a bike trip. In his discussions with Nima, he learned very little of government aid ever made it to the people. The only help actually doing something has been NGO’s and the return of the tourist industry. If one remembers, there was a devastating earthquake here in April 2015. As we drove here I noticed the Star hotel where Jeanne and I spent many days sitting out on the patio. It is still being rebuilt.
I met Buck in about 2000 when he would come to anchorage for the tour of anchorage ski race held every march. He owns a hardware store in Michigan by Lake Superior. There were 5-10 of us with “bucks hardware” racing suits. I lost track of him when we quit racing. Then unbeknowst to me he signed up for the Andes trail bike ride where we again reconnected. I usually roomed with him on hotel nights and he has always impressed me with his clear way of looking at the world.
Rein is from the Netherlands and loves to ride his bike. He is probably one of the best riders I have ever met. Pleasant, friendly, unassuming, and incredibly powerful although his skinny frame does not forecast that. In the Andes, pulling up some horrendous grade he would come along side and carry on pleasant conversation, then excuse himself and fly on up further, leaving me to wonder “how does he do that?”
Michelle was also on the Andes trail and goes without saying also loves to ride her bike. She was the one who was hit by a car on second to last day in Argentina. She survived although bike was totally destroyed. Insurance replaced it with a Santa Cruz “tall boy”, perfect for this trip. She still has a day job working as a researcher for the University in Australia. And is a self described geek. Awesome lady
Chad,also from Australia, works as a computer programmer and he and Michelle began hanging out together a few years ago. Must be great if he is with Michelle.
We shared stories of the Andes and what a different ride this would be. Although officially now a road except for Thorong La pass the Annapurna circuit still qualifies as rough mountain biking.
The James and Bridgett joined us. James is from Virginia and won the Andes trail race. He is a happy somewhat quiet person and also loves to ride. I recently saw a post in Facebook of him racing an old penny farthing bike (the one with a huge front wheel and tiny back wheel.
Bridget hails from South Africa where buck met her on some bike ride. She apparently won the Cairo -Capetown tour of Africa race. Anybody who is friendly on arrival, appears excited and says “where can a girl get a beer around here” is alright by me.
Only Paul from the Netherlands is yet to arrive. And that is our crew, hand picked and promises to be a great interesting trip.
Thus today we assemble bikes, take care of business with Nima Getting permits, then tomorrow a ride of Kathmandu.
And I cannot get on to internet here at hotel, but am assured it is here and decent. Am told we will have cell coverage most of trip. But the big if is electricity. Charging phones, GPS, etc maybe it is time to go back. (Nah I like my world)
If you see this or any post problem solved for now.