Ushuaia, Argentina

If you wish to know the Divine, feel the wind on your face and the warm sun on your hand.    Buddha

Well it has been an interesting week.  Arrived at airport here in Ushuaia about 7 pm last Thursday (today is Wednesday), I believe more dead than alive.  We were to say the least, exhausted.  Concerned about our airbnb as unable to contact them due to no phone, wifi, etc., but on arrival the owner was out front and gave us hugs on arrival.  Her brother said lets go get a SIM card and we hopped in car to drive several places to obtain a SIM card so I could have phone access and such, when no wifi available.  Finally got it although a few days later when I got around to putting it in phone turns out did not work.  Only 50 pesos though about $3.00 so not worrying.  Seems card had been cut wrong.

As we arrived late and had planned on thursday arranging trips about Tierra Del Fuego and up to Punta Arenas, Chile we found a room for another night.  The airbnb was booked but found a hotel nearby although only room was a triple for $130.  OK for one night.
Went out to eat at first restaurant we found which by now was 9 pm and mostly empty, with a couple of tables busy.  By the time we finished at 10:30 every table full.  I forgot they eat late here.  Most restaurants do not even open until 8 pm.  But excellent food.  Then we slept, oh sweet sleep.


In the morning we  walked to new hotel 6 blocks away and apparently a double room was always available just not via booking.com, hence we would get a reimbursement.  And off to make arrangements for the next 5 days.  Information booths, tour companies, bus companies, etc.   More difficult than anticipated.  Had tried to do on line from home, but proved difficult without any answers.  Ferry boat ride between Punta Arenas and Puerto Williams (near here) was something we really wanted, as it was 35 hours on inside passage as a local ferry.  Tourists ferries were too long and expensive.  But the schedule was exact opposite of what we could do.  Then we heard there is strike at Chilean border which no-one seemed to have much information on, except borders blocked most of time except maybe 10 minutes an hour or two or three.  The bus ride from here to Punta Arenas is 12 hours thus it did not seem inviting having just finished a horrendous travel experience.  Flying an option but over a thousand dollars for us.  Also could go to Rio Gallegos in Chile which was far cheaper and easier to get to but would mean hours there and an overnight and everyone said a boring town.  Seems traveling about Tierra Del Fuego was not going to happen.  We would stay in Ushuaia and see what it has to offer.  5 days now and 3 on return.

Ushuaia end of the world

At hotel we walked up to the lounge area on third floor and as we passed second floor there was a Deborah Green, who I had gone to nursing school with me in 1982.  I had seen her a few times since but not much.  Jeanne came up the stairs and recognized her as she had worked with her in hospital years before, but took a bit to recognize as way out of context.  Small world!  They are leaving for Antarctica on a different cruise, but we made arrangements to have dinner.  They were going hiking and we were trying to find out options for next days.

Another great dinner again beginning at 9 pm, and we four decided to rent a car the next day to explore tierra el Fuego national park, which was one of the reasons I had wanted to spend time here.  Two years ago I rode through the park on bicycle and it looked great for further explorations.

Oh boy the next day we rented a car.  A superb day but the renting of car was the adventure.  The rental company a block from hotel and they did not speak English and rental agreement was in spanish.  Although paying in cash the deposit was on a credit card.  Many have told us the credit card charge here is 10% so often cheaper to use cash.  But the deposit required a call to credit card company and that was an adventure. The rental guy was getting very frustrated with the incomprehensible questions from the credit card company.  They needed to verify it was me, thus by the end we had a slip of paper on desk with passwords, social security #, mothers maiden name, etc.  All the things you never give out.  We watched that paper closely.  Was a problem as the bank said social # was wrong because it should only be four numbers.  Finally realized they only wanted the last four digits.  Anyway when we finished the paper was fully shredded placed in my pocket and I considered swallowing it.  Again we laughed. It took over two hours to get the paperwork and simpler than the paperwork at home.

Finally finished and we drove the 30 kilometers to the end of the road.


End of the road,  the other end is either Homer Spit or Deadhorse or maybe Inuvik

 

Finally after  when we reached the end of road, parked, explored, and on return to car none of us could figure out how to put the car in reverse.  20 minutes later and almost getting out and pushing it back, Deborah discovers you lift up on the handle.  More laughter.

Bird watching Tierra del Fuego national park

The park was great with lots of new birds and photograph potential.  Striated caracara, rufous collared sparrow, upland goose, rufous goose, kelp geese, flightless steamer ducks, and once we looked up and not at the ground found a bunch of parrots which I figured were Austral parakeets.  Had not expected to see parrots here.  Amazing wildlife.  A superb hike to the coast amongst the beech trees.

Austral parakeets

Returned to Ushuaia and wanted to avoid driving San Martin street due to busy, but ended up on it not once, but twice when roads we turned on dead ended forcing us to navigate San Martin, finally climbing back to the rental place where the fellow had driven from home to meet us.  Very nice. Quite an adventure and it worked out well.  

Sunday was pleasant without wind and we suddenly decided to do a Beagle channel tour, to view cormorants, fur seals, light houses, petrels, terns, and another continuous onslaught of critters sights and sounds.

Antarctic giant petrel
Antarctic fur seals. They are as sluggish as California sea lions and stellar sea lions
 

Did some walks about town visiting the monument to immigrants covering a big section of hillside  and memorial to those who died in the falklands war (Malvinas)
 

Monument to immigrants. 3 sections of maybe twenty total

 

 

Today a bus tour about town and found out about the native inhabitants.  When Fitzroy and Darwin came here in early 1800’s they asked what the Indians called themselves.  They said “tualkin”. For 50 years that is what people called them until someone translated that to mean “I do not understand”.  As of 2010 only one native remained, the rest had died off from diseases and such they had no immunity to.  

And thus tomorrow we board the ship to travel to falklands, South Georgia island, and Antarctic peninsula.  Jeanne, Geoff and myself are very excited.  23 days aboard ship with excursions ashore.  New sights.   

Thus I will leave it at this.  Apparently wifi is available but limited and I am not planning on connecting thus if no word here it means I am successful in disconnecting.  This afternoon has reinforced my desire to disconnect. As this $230 per night hotel has wifi which marginally works slowly.  The hotel earlier at $60 night worked good, and some what consistent.  This writing has taken 6 hours of fits and starts and frustration.  

Against  I apologize for the lack of coherency or length but am frustrated with the technology. 

Air travel  (Anchorage to Ushuaia in 94 hours)

The only value we have as humansIs the risks we are willing to take 
Ernest Hemingway in movie seen on airplane trip “papa Hemingway in Cuba”

Currently sitting in Santiago Chile airport on a 5 hour layover. Arrived here at 3:30 pm after boarding in Los Angeles at 8 pm last night. 13.5 hours on the Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” on a full flight. Now Jeanne is asleep on chair here in transit lounge.  (The transit lounge allows us to not go through immigration control). 

We are asking ourselves how did we do this to ourselves.  We know we do not do night flights.  And the past years I have tried to break up long flights.  One can fly across the United States in one day but when you arrive you are so exhausted it negates any benefit of having more days at destination.  When flying now to east coast I try and spend a night in Seattle.  Makes life easier.  

Hence our layover in Los Angeles.  We kept asking ourselves why we did the night flight leaving Sunday night at 11 pm arriving Los Angeles at 6 am.  My second cousin Vickie, who  we realized we had not seen each other since teen agers, picked us up at 6 am as she claimed, and it was true, lives 10 minutes from airport. We promptly fell asleep for 3 hours before beginning our visit to the city of angels, although did stop at an outdoor restaurant for breakfast enroute to her house.  Coming from a more rural background and Alaska I do not consider LA a wondrous place having not having been there for any time in decades.  Not that I would want to live there but it was a stupendous visit.  First day after waking up Vickie asked what we wanted to do in the area.  My family used to go there as kids every summer to visit relatives and for three weeks we were busy with something new every day, and ever year.  Amazing the things there are to do.  But all we wanted was to walk, hence we walked about the neighborhood.  I was entranced with the surfboard carriers for bicycles, and folks just walking to the beach a few blocks away.  Great just seeing the community of El Segundo.  (LA seems to comprise not only the city, but numerous small towns one never knows are distinct as their borders are just the streets). 

Manhatten beach pier
El segundo beach

Next day (yesterday) did the same only this time drove about 2 miles to a beach walk.  Their is a paved bike path which apparently goes for about 25 miles and is not a great place to walk as bikers ride like me.  But the pedestrian path is great with numerous multimillion dollars small condo, houses on one side and beach with surfers, volleyball nets, players, and several just beach sitters.  (The town of Manhatten Beach is the world capital of beach volleyball, so they say).  Wondrous to not do anything like Griffith park or Disneyland or whatever but just visit the local habitats.  Breakfast lunch at another superb outdoor restaurant.  Then back to car and a wondrous afternoon solving world problems.  (Once again no one else cares for our  solutions and I have forgotten the answers already). 

 

Breakie
Peruvian Andes 6000 plus meter peaks

And the journey continues.  Currently in the air an hour south of Buenos Aires on theoretically the last flight of this section.  24 hours ago we arrived in Santiago  and had a somewhat pleasant 6 hour stay in transit area.  An hour late departing but for us it just meant less time on the Buenos Aires layover which was to be an allnighter.  We were not looking forward to it as already a bit sleep deprived, and not enough time for a hotel.   That was the reason I believe we did this version. 

Seems all flights to Ushuaia depart early morning and most require a change of airports in Buenos Aires.  It was difficult to arrange, enough so that we went to a travel agent who worked through the intricacies.  But I believe we were so intent on not staying in a hotel that one night, we forgot the miseries to ensue of the schedule we created.  But it was supposed to be a 5-6 hour layover with a 5 am departure in Buenos Aires.  Best laid plans and such.  

The layover began to go bad on arrival when we had to retrieve our bags which were checked through to Ushuaia, to clear customs.  At other places where this is done, you go through customs and Then put bags back on carousel and they continue on.  Here though it meant going out and to check in, which on our arrival was closing at 11 pm. They said too early to check in for 5 am flight and we had to keep bags.  Asked where best place to sleep in airport was and workers did not know.  We roamed a bit in the somewhat large 2 terminal airport, getting kicked out of a few places as would upset cleaning regimen.  Finally found a place in hall where one could snake yourself around the armrests and lie down a bit.  Airports love armrests!  I chose the floor.  A marble floor but managed about 3 fitful hours of pseudo sleep, locking my bags together to prevent theft with the straps and computer bag as a pillow.  Luckily I can sleep most any place.  There were mayb 50 others doing similar attempts.  A 4 year old well behaved boy played most of the night with his toy airplane while one parent or the other took turns watching him.  

About 4 am finally said enough and we went to check in getting the maze of people also in line at the maybe 15 check in stands wit) only 2 working.  Seemed a supervisor was there doing whatever supervisors do, when after about 15 minutes inline he began to inquire everyone’s destination.  He had the folks heading to Ushuaia go form a separate line of which Jeanne and I were first.  The line behind us grew to a long length winding out the hall and into hallway out of our sight, while the original line became much shorter.  The supervisor then began rearranging the maze of webbing directing the people going to other locations.  Jeanne and I were laughing as he seemed to be having such fun removing the webbing from one  poles and fitting in another.  But then that line was soon short and those who had come after us were checking in.  No explanation, but when we moved to a check in counter we were told to return to the Ushuaia line.  Finally someone who could speak Spanish went up and a possible answer was given our flight was cancelled, but no one was really sure if that was true, including the counter people.  

Not sure how it all began or started but soon there were people chanting and clapping in the area.  One fellow was going around insisting everyone totally block the check in area until answers were found.  The police were called in as the scene was developing.  Jeanne and I were not exactly happy but did not want to give up our place in line, which was beside the folks growing angry.  Check ins for everyone was halted as the mob was blocking the kiosks, not to block them but searching for answers.  Jeanne got on a chat session with Latam airlines but seemed they knew nothing, but did say they could not rebook us as our bags were already checked from Los Angeles to Ushuaia.  The counter people now said they had contacted headquarters in Chile and they were working on solution.  ​

​Finally were told there would be an answer about 8 am. It was now 6 am. The crowd  had quieted somewhat.  The airline gave us vouchers for breakfast and told to return at 8.  Numerous people said it was a ruse but Jeanne and I took the vouchers and were reassured by people next to us they would hold our place in line.  They would wait.  I got a note on my airline scheduling app on phone that we were rescheduled for 3 pm flight, and off we went to find only one restaurant took the voucher and it was only for coffee and a croissant.  

On return to counter our place in line remained and when we told the counter people about how voucher did not work, they gave us a lunch voucher.  But our bags were checked although we were wondering if it was another ruse.  Several people including counter personnel told us this all was common.  Someone said the flight was cancelled because the pilot called in sick, but no one seemed to really know.  

Most airports are designed to transfer people from one connection to another and often there is little thought given to the time one spends between flights.  Airports are getting better but this airport (the smaller regional airport of Buenos Aires) although) nice does not have a lot of attraction.  But when all the excitement settled we looked out window and viewed what we thought was the ocean, but were informed it is the river and one said it is here 250 kilometers across.  Whew that seems to be the ocean, but whatever, we found our way across the 7 lanes of traffic and began walking the delightful escalade with bikers, walkers, fishermen, venders and such.  We soon discovered though that we were exhausted and did not feel like walking.  Returning to the airport worked our way through security and into departure area, where we fought off unsuccessfully sleep, sitting in the uncomfortable chairs.  Reading was impossible due to sleep deprivation.  The web was slow, email would not work for us, I could not contact the Airbnb of change in arrival time.  No SIM cards were available in airport, and our phone carrier, ATT was having computer problems, hence many times we had to find a recharging area as going through batteries.  

Buenos Aries airport front
Basically I guess I could have shortened the last bit by summarizing the day as it was not fun, and we remain even more sleep deprived than yesterday.  Our hopes of getting to Ushuaia and making arrangements for the next week were shot down.  Did manage a second night, at a different place than tonight, as most places sold out.  

I remember a conversation that we exclaimed Jeanne and I like to travel pretty much on the fly, without a set schedule, which often ties one down to a particular trip, without potential for changing circumstances or happenings.  This has led us on some very special times, adventures, and meeting amazing people.  But one must be prepared as there are ups and downs.  Sometimes things like today happen.  Seems to work out and after numerous days and sleep we will probably reminisce about it letting memories erase the bad parts.  

South Atlantic Ocean coastline Argentina

Hence if you have made it this far you realize we are enroute to Ushuaia and on to t)3 next section.  Let the fun begin.

Depression

The human heart and the environment are inseparably linked together. If you think only of yourself, ultimately you will lose.

The heart of compassion

The XIV Dalai Lama

 

Well back in Anchorage for a couple of weeks.  Was a long flight home:

Guangzhou, China was not a bad airport.  Had couches to sleep on and places to walk.  Spent 6 hours there, just in the transit area hence did not have to go through immigration which is nice.

12 hour flight to Los Angeles where global entry came in handy as in and out of immigration in minutes whereas the regular line was very long.  But had to go out of terminal and walk a long way between terminals in a crowded pickup area.  then I was told could not check in to next flight as 7 hours early and 4 hours was max  for security.  No place to wait but on the curb beside the traffic. Alaska airlines though checked and checked me in and I was allowed to go through the security, luckily I have the recheck and again a short line.  But the airport was crowded and I was ready to go back to Asia.  Finally was able to get a chair next to window which I could use as a headrest and fell asleep.  My find friend Joe called and woke me in time to catch the next plane.

Took about 5 days to convince my body to wake and sleep at the correct times.  Time zones and jet lag are good for letting you know you are a physical being subject to biological systems, hormones, schedules and such.  Difficult to just power through it, although one can fake it.

And currently here in Anchorage the sun rises officially at 08:53 am and sets at 16:32 for 7 hours and 39 minutes of daylight.  decreasing at 5 minutes a day.  Have brought out the SAD light and taking vitamin D.  (SAD light for those unfamiliar are bright lights (10000 lux) which you sit in front of for 30-45 minutes a day and it simulates the sunlight)  The sun now at its highest point is only 11 degrees above the horizon.  In the middle of day I will stop somewhere in the sun and just stare at it eyes wide open.

Try and get out every day but today it was pouring rain and just seemed futile on the snow which was transforming to ice.  And I do not have studded tires on my bike.img_9200

Then today I checked on the insurance claim as have been going back and forth getting all the documents in.  Today they let me know that there is no coverage for “mountain climbing or any other high altitude activities”.  Fine print on page 15.  alas..  Well it was a great trip and although it cost an extra $1000 dollars for the time I spent on my own having departed the intended trip, it was a very enjoyable time.  They would not even cover the $100 for the doctor which they required me to go to before realizing it was altitude sickness.  So much for travel insurance.  I would not recommend Allianz travel insurance.

Am still a bit confused as to why I got sick.  Guess I just went up to fast but only 14700 feet.  Not that high and have been there numerous times before. It still is one of the greatest disappointments I have ever had.  But perhaps I can go back to the mustang area another time.  There are alternatives, but I missed being with an incredible group and bike riding through an incredible area.  Fortunately I do not regret coming down when I was sick.  I would not have made the pass.

And now have gone through the election of a xenophobic, sexist, racist president elect.  Am I so far I am off in my ideas,  that I consider him to be totally opposite of my views.  Half of the population of the United States felt he will be good for us.  Now he is trying to destroy our health care insurance which was unavailable before the so called Obama care, wants to pull us out of Paris climate treating, open the environment for total degradation, cut education to unsustainable levels.  Where is the good?  What am I missing?????  But as noted half the population feels he is for the best.  I am trying to understand.  He says he is going to get jobs back but unemployment is at 4.9% considered full employment.  Stock market is at record levels.

Perhaps it is education: as “they ” say it was less than college educated people which voted him in.  I guess decreasing education is working for him.

Again I am trying to be positive about this, but as someone noted, “It’s OK to freak out, grieve, and vent for a while. Then we can get back to work, as always, for the good..  Just because 1/2 the population voted him in does not mean his ideas are right.  One still has to argue for the right.

Apparently this is the first time since the period of 1921 to 1929 that Republicans have totally controlled the presidency, both house the legislature, and the supreme court.  (The triad creating balance of powers preventing  the oppression of the majority over the minority and vice versa)  Hmm, there was an event in 1929 called the Great Depression, which took many years to recover and even today people recall it as a very dark time in our recent history.  I guess I say, “well the republicans have the power now, let’s see if their ideas work.”  I am skeptical.

A friend who is a Trump supporter says give it a year.  He listed some ideas to watch and I agree.  He said “Muslims will be welcome in the U. S., African Americans will have access to more education and be involved in less violence. Women will still be allowed to choose abortion and have free access to birth control. Immigrants will still be allowed to legally enter into the country, and  the homeless and unemployed citizens of America will have more access to jobs that have been taken away from them.”   Seems quite a stretch from todays attitudes and in a years time, but I have no choice but to hope.   I believe he sincerely believes Trump will make this happen.

And getting ready for the next trip.  Exciting as heading south again.  Back to Ushuaia in South America and on to Antarctica.  Exciting.  As per usual as I have noted before one should be ready for departure anywhere on 5 minutes notice, but seems there is a lot to do.  Maps, what gear, money, cameras,
Now in Los Angeles again. Layover enroute south. Couple days here 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The End (or just the beginning)

To paraphrase Joseph Campbell, sometimes we must be willing to get rid of the trip we’ve planned so as to have the trip that is waiting for us.  

And so as you may have detected I was quite disappointed in leaving the trip. I was depressed at my body failing, depressed at my thoughts. I was making up excuses blaming lots of things, feeling I had been abandoned not only by me but others, of which none was true and I knew it, but being human was trying to place blame anywhere but me. The above quote came from a dear friend who wrote me and it made me realize we do not always know our path, but it is our path and the choices we make determine future paths. Not much reason to get upset over the natural flow of things. 

Anyway I had a good time while the group was gone, and I was alone, and as noted usually I like being alone, but this time I was not prepared for it. 

Jeanne had wanted me to come home as obviously the trip was over for me. But I felt I had come all this way there was something here. When Rien came in after injuring his shoulder he left soon as he wanted to get his shoulder checked at home in the Netherlands. He had good reason to get home.  I felt good having once descended I was fine. 

J. R. & Rien (their biking trip is done)

And I am so happy I stayed. Not only did I get a good trip bicycling up to Tatopani and return, but when the group returned the day after I returned, they immediately came to my room and checked on me. It was like I had never left the trip despite having skipped 16 of 24 days. We shared stories and compared notes. I felt a part. It felt good. Up until then I had been unable to listen to stories of the Mustang area, or even read their Facebook accounts, it hurt too much. But when they returned I wanted all their stories. 

Turns out their stories included my episode at altitude, and having listened to them I realize I could not have gone on. It was a horrible decision but the right one to depart and descend. I was sick. Apparently not only could I not breath although my oxygen saturation was normal for that altitude(84%), but I could not walk a straight line heel to toe.   

For a different viewpoint read Buck’s blog Buck’s blog not only is he a very good writer but his perspective is different which is often good. The one entitled high country riding is his version of my demise. 

But a great dinner together and then people depart. The trip is over and a memory.  

Final dinner (James, Chad, Michelle, Paul, Bridget, Buck, and J. R. ) ( left to right)

I was unable to get reservation for flights out until Friday night when setting up this trip, so have hung out in pokhara, as it is more pleasant than Kathmandu. Michelle,  Chad, James, and Paul left Monday morning leaving Buck, Bridget and myself. Buck and Bridget left this morning Wednesday for a 8 day trek to Annapurna base camp. 

Tuesday Bridget, buck and I did a great trek up to world heritage site of world peace Buddhist stupa,which was great and impressive. Glad we had seen Junga the night before, as he said we could take a boat across lake and trek rather than taxi in car around and up (Junga was our bike guide on the trip) we left about 8:30 am but still sweat rolled off us as we ascended through the jungle. It seems there are no flat trails here. 

Pokhara world peace stupa
Always rules
Depart pokhara on boat taxi
Following the locals

Talking with Jeanne today. (Wednesday) we were reviewing my schedule and realized I leave Thursday nite not Friday nite. Am very glad I do not schedule tight connections as I would have shown up Friday night at Kathmandu airport and discovered my flight left the night before. 

Met a fellow Anchorage traveller this am, got a haircut, tried to find glaucoma medicines at pharamcies here but that seems a first world medicine and no one had any medicines for it here. Alas. I must go back and pay first world prices. 

And so it has again been a grand adventure. The future has moved into the present and the present has moved into the past. It is a constant ongoing process, never ending. 

Buddha at world peace stupa
Walking streets of Pokhara
View from lunch spot of main tourist street Pokhara (well through all those wires)

Pokhara alone, onward, & back

The root of suffering is attachment.

Buddha

Interesting couple of days. Mentally and physically. Hopefully I have not bitten off more than I can chew. My permit goes as far as Jomsom at the upper end of road on this side of Annapurna circuit. Jeanne and I trekked in from Pokhara in 1992 in just over a week, hitchhiking the road out of Pokhara with construction trucks. But only rode maybe 10-15 kilometers. Now there is a road, all the way to Jomsom, but before Tatopani it winds to the west and away from main trekking routes which are more direct. The road connects with trekking routes at Tatopani and both road and trail then wind up through the Kali Gandaki  (one of the deepest canyons in world if you consider on one side is Annapurna I and the other is Daulagiri, two of the 14 8000 meter peaks. We are at about 1000 meters here) ok I am impressed. 

Left Pokhara ready to get out of town and face the world again. And it was incredible. Between keeping an eye on traffic, Annapurna South and Machhapuchhre were out in their glory. Rising nearly 6000 meters above town. (20000 feet) 

departing Pokhara

The town became less dense, then more rice fields, then what one would call country, as the road slowly rises at a 3-4 % grade. Then the hill began about 10 k out of town switchbacking at a doable 6-8% grade. I was back on bike, traffic was not bad and it was nice. Got to what I thought was top and stopped for break. Proprietor of store invited me in back and showed me view looking back down valley to Phewa lake and Pokhara.  The lake still exists!

looking back down valley to Pokhara

And a very pleasant fellow also at break stop asking this and that in reasonable English. Said he was Tibetan. When my break was done he wanted to show me some of the jewelry he had made. Have not seen any hawkers of wares as in past visits. Without being forcefull he pulled out pieces telling me about each one. Some were real turquoise from Tibet others plastic he pointed out. Had well over a hundred pieces just thrown in a bag. Ok I confess I bought one!

Then back in bike, But after only a kilometer road again went up, rising another 250 meters totaling  thus far at 950 meters of climbing (3100 feet) in 20 kilometer (12 miles). 

Stopped at top for lunch. Dahl baht again. (Rice and lentils, and eaten at 90% of Nepali meals.). Very pleasant people particularly one who was asking in reasonable English where I was from and pleasantries. Engaging several other people in restaurant in conversation. Turns out she is Tibetan but was born here in Nepal. Her mother came here in 1962. She has a small business selling jewelry she has made. After I finish eating she would like to show me some, and she wanders off. I finished eating and she returned and directed me to table out front where she had a bag which she began pulling out necklaces, beads, charms, and I could not tell little difference from the stuff seen a few kilometers badck.  I began my departure but she said I should buy something as that is how she lives. I just left without buying anything but lunch. 

Then the descent back and forth and the road surface is more torn  up. Got to bottom then some small up and down but getting quite hot now. And the road began to climb again, nothing serious but the heat in the high 80s (high 20s C) with high humidity was killing me. Even though only about 2 pm I began looking for a place to stay. The road here though is not part of tourist route other than buses and taxis coming back from trekking and only driving through. Basically I was alone amongst thousands around me who had their own lives to lead. Passed one hotel but did not look promising. Onward and upward finally reaching Kusma some 62 kilometers from pokhara.
Found only one hotel in the somewhat large town (guessing 10000 people) and pulled in. Several women and girls sitting around lobby and had to wake up fellow sleeping on couch. Yes they had room (building was 6 stories tall) he called his son from somewhere and he appeared to take me to second floor (third by U.S. counting) it was fine although a bit dirty. I have my sleeping sheet. And a overhead fan. I laid down and let the fan blow with the window open as sweat continued to roil off me. I do not do humidity 

Finally figured I best walk about town. Not a single westerner to seen which is interesting having been several weeks in the thick of tourism. 

Back for dinner about 6 but told to come back promptly at 7 for dinner. No worries back at 7 enjoy a beer but by 8 still no food and no one in kitchen. I seem the only person in hotel other than family. About 8 the fellow comes over and asked if I would like dinner tonight?  Yes please and his son and another go into kitchen and begin serving up food. Dahl baht. 

Morning and breakfast at 7. I ask for black coffee and get a pot of milk coffee. He says will be 15-20 minutes before cook arrives.  About 7:50 his son arrives and goes into kitchen. 8:15 he comes out and asks what I would like. I order scrambled eggs and toast. About 9 a plate of eggs wrapped around the bread arrives. I ask for a receipt for hotel bill and that took another 45 minutes as he itemized each meal, beer etc so much for leaving early and avoiding the heat. 

Descent to 800 meters elevation (200 lower than Pokhara) and entered the Kali Gandaki river drainage). The road continues to deteriorate. Thought Tatopani would be too far today but Beni only 20 kilometers. It is a holiday of some sort and every store was closed and the few hotels also boarded up. And people out walking in their finest outfits. The normal red tika worn by women was a full on red rice pasted all over forehead of everyone, men and women, and all had some grass sticking out of hair. I felt like it was Christmas holidays back in states except without commercial aspects.  Later I learned the holiday is 5 days long and this is day 3. A Hindu holiday as this is Hindu country. 

Some kids enamored with my bike said Tatopani would be a easy 3 hours for me. Guide map says it is a 5 hour walk and I thought hmmm maybe I could do that. Another 25 kilometers and only 11  in the morning. But the heat was kicking in. I stopped to eat and was feeling a bit down so thought maybe I am tougher than I thought and ordered a soda instead of mineral water with the Dahl baht.

lunch time
 

Generally I am tough but not tough enough for a soda. It did me in and I was miserable, having to exit the road once to evacuate the system. Something I have not had to do once on this trip. Felt better but heat and humidity back. (This is jungle after all) 

The road is now a mud fest. With puddles the entire width. I rode one puddle and was hub deep. Waterfalls flowing. Had to help push one car which was stuck in mud. Decided I would not make Tatopani, and kept looking at map for potential villages with hotel. One looked promising but on arrival only one house and a boarded up hotel. Guess it will be Tatopani in 8 kilometers. A major creek crossing, fast current and looked two feet deep. Looked dangerous by foot, and no way to ride a hike through that current, even by vehicle it looked precarious. Found some logs a hundred yards upstream which allowed a rather wet dicey crossing. Figured I would make Tatopani  as only 8 kilometers away. 

bridge out over fast flowing creek
alternate crossing for bikes & pedestrians

Then a village of Tiplyang appeared although first two hotels were boarded up. Decided ok I can do this but as walking up hill out of town the Namaste guest house appears. I just go in and here I am. 

namaste guest house room. Tiplyang(200 rupees $2.00)
Laid in bed for an hour thinking of altitude sickness and if you cannot recover in 10 minutes something is wrong. Here it is the heat and humidity getting me. I was on the bed for over an hour, finally forcing myself up to walk  through town. That took 5 minutes of which 2 was watching a volleyball game.  Back to hotel and invited to watch dinner preparations. It appeared I was the only guest and definitely only westerner. 
Tiplyang holiday volleyball and swing

Wow despite the language gap, I got a lesson in cooking. Had bananas as appetizers with a bread I equated to eskimo doughnuts. Hearty! And good!

spice grinder
kitchen counter ( silver bowl covers rock so chickens do not go there)
 Grind the garlic and I believe it is cardamom on rock. Then grind garlic, peanuts, salt and a few peppers. Peel potatoes and stir fry with fresh cut onions. Oh my gosh it was amazing. Definitely not the fastidiousness of western cooking,  then time to eat. The lentils and rice appear from pressure cookers and enjoy. Another meal of Dahl baht. Everyone is different, and I refer to the Dahl baht. 

Ok morning and on to Tatopani. Maya here tells me it is expensive. Here in Tiplyang I have found the Nepal I remember. No menus, smokey kitchens, simplicity beyond simplicity.  

But pondering return. The group comes into Tatopani Saturday eve and then jeep to Pokhara. The idea of a jeep ride out of here does not entice me. Think I will ride out at least until road is better, but then things get very crowded. Maybe ride all the way back but then some climbs. Decisions decisions. 

And the adventure continues. Now Friday day 3 at Tatopani. Jomsom is 56 kilometers, which is as far as my permit goes, but not feeling the need. Just enjoying the time although might be a bit easier if I had a set schedule. I keep thinking of Paul’s statement: it had been shown one loses IQ points on vacation. 

Yesterday went for a nice trek up the canyon wall. Map said a good viewpoint of Dhaulagiri, Nilgiri, and Annapurna South. Hotel owner said could not see Dhaulagiri but nice views and a good waterfall. Did not matter as clouds encased the high mountains anyway. I did try taking butterfly pictures with the iPhone. Not very successful. That is price of going minimalist, I cannot carry bigger camera.

Tatopani room view oranges and Nilgiri (6940 meters)(22769feet)

Awoke this morning and magnificent view of Nilgiri from lying in bed. Maybe not a good day to return to Pokhara. Can ride to Beni in morning and catch a bus from there. Thus I find myself sitting beside road listening to roar of river, motorbikes, jeeps, cars, buses, and trucks go by.

The road continues with technical mountain biking, finding a route through rocks, puddles, creeks, and traffic.  Traffic definitely adds a dimension to route finding. 

 As I ride I have come to appreciate the horns. Nice to know something is near and do not swerve. Funny as in the states horn is not nice, as obnoxious, and one knows they are there, but here cannot always here as so much else going on. Also back home one gets the feeling when someone honks they are saying get out of my way. Not so here, but to let you know they are there. Each has an equal right. 

Pushed upward until my demons were saying why are you doing this? I was pondering why is it I am always the slow one (ok I am alone so who is slow). Why do I do these trips, what is the point? And the questions go on. Self doubts!  

Then finally turned around having climbed about 500 meters in 9 kilometer, after seeing the narrow portion of Kali Gandaki gorge. 4 kilometer to Ghana and I could get a stamp on my permit. Whooppee skippee! I turned around then on way down at a narrow section of road police had come out to direct traffic. There was definite congestion where a stream was running down the road and vehicles were having a hard time climbing.  Was talking with some Israeli trekkers on bus from Jomsom, who as I was cleared to ride through they said. “Keep living my dream”. Words again can mean a lot. Suddenly I felt better.  

And I made it through the very rocky section, sliding and dropping off rocks as it was a major stream flowing down the 15% slope. And about a hundred people filming it as buses disgorged passengers to await their buses turn to climb or descend. 

Talked with a couple from India who are taking a three week vacation to motorcycle this route to Muktinath at the edge of Mustang area. They said it far rougher than they expected. I am amazed at abilities of the motorcycle riders. And that does not mention the passenger of which there is almost always one. 

Apparently since the road went on this has become a motorcycle vacation destination. And they stop me to say they are amazed at what I am doing.  There is always somebody tougher out there. 

Descent from Tatopani to Beni was great but muddy. Left same time as jeep with trekkers from Victoria, Canada. We arrived Beni same time but I had stopped and taken a lot of pictures. Arrived Pokhara covered in mud. 

And made me feel good when this morning as I left Trekkers hotel, the owner and daughter came out to say goodbye. And stopped by Nepali guest house  in Tiplyang and Maya thanked me for stopping by and telling stories of time in Tatopani. 

Thus I think I must post this. Internet is acting weird. One time says ready next it discombobulated   Sorry if not finished. But will have to correct after. Writing on an iPhone is a pain. 

On the move again

My love, she speaks softly

Knows there’s no success like failure

And that failure’s no success at all 

Bob Dylan. “Love minus zero/ no limit” –

album “bringing it all back home”

Ok pokhara. Another tourist town but I  have become part of hotel here. Eat breakfast lunch dinner here they know what I want and is pleasant. Have just been chilling out. Did ride up to world heritage site yesterday eve but only the parking lot. Did not walk last hundred or so meters to the world peace stupa. Just a nice bike ride.  Hoping for the great views of Dhaulagiri and Annapurna range but very cloudy and of course hazy.  Maybe on return.  Has been wonderful to just do nothing, just relax. Been thinking if this article written in 2011 about Nepal tourism. Bad things about Nepal tourism. It is true and this is a developing nation undergoing major upheaval. The government changes every 9 months and never can be established to actually see things through. But as in most places the people are separate from the government and only suffer the consequences. ( How many people actually got to decide whether Clinton or Trump would run for president of the U. S.?) We all eke out a living doing the best we can given our circumstances. 

Yesterday planned on riding to stupa but was told I needed a blood pressure for doctor who signed my insurance form that I had altitude sickness. (I never saw the doc, the hotel just took form to hospital and it was filled out. Should have done it in Manang at Himalayan rescue clinic as would have only cost $45, but who pays that much for a doctor visit?  Cost 10000 rupees for doc here in Pokhara, about a hundred dollars). But was told to rest after breakfast as relaxation needed for BP. Ok time went by and time for lunch but needed to rest again and hotel would take me. They wanted to know why I had not ridden to stupa. About 2 the proprietor of hotel said he had neck pain and would have to wait a bit longer.  About 3:30 he said time to go but we were taking the moped. What happened to the relaxation?  He put on his helmet and off we went I thought to hospital for BP. (Passengers do not wear helmets). We drove maybe a kilometer to a pharmacy where blood pressure taken. I could have walked there in 15 minutes. The hotel said they would notify the doctor my BP was normal.  Cost 100 rupees as apparently normal to pay for a blood pressure. Different worlds. After I went for bike ride and felt great. 

Now awaiting permit for Annapurna circuit as coming down from manang closed out my Annapurna and mustang permits which cost about $575. Hence the insurance. This is a solo unguided permit and I will be self supported. Glad I brought a little bit of packs to carry stuff. It will be a minimalist trip though. 

creek coming into lake fisherman avoiding the discarded water bottles and trash
phewa lake
hit dog ice cream shop
indian dinner similar to dahl baht but rotti instead of rice
outskirts of pokhara

And so it goes. I figure I will post this as have Internet now and probably none ( or at least half decent) until I return in a week. Packed up, amazing how little one really needs, but we shall see in a week. I realize I may not have needed the trekking permit because trekking does not start until tatopani, 75 kilometers up the road. Used to be one started in pokhara. 

The road has made a difference the locals can easier move about now but the trekkers do not like it. Ruins the “pristine” trekking Nepal was famous for.  Alas progress comes at a price. They are trying to build trekking trails apart from the road, but amenities are now available. 

Prices are similar to western prices for commodities. Not once have I seen or heard any bargaining, although I did hear one lady get mad when she found a north face jacket for more money than in the states. Hotels are still somewhat cheap. I am paying $20 for this place which is nice. In the mountains I paid $2.00. But one is expected to eat at hotel which is where the money is made meals are $7 to $10. Beer is about $5 a bottle but 500 ml. bottles.

Still a fascinating place. Different world.  

What a long strange trip it has been

If you do not follow your dreams, you might as well be a vegetable

  Anthony Hopkins in “The Worlds Fastest Indian”

and then add 14 people( ok one was a 1 year old)
With some regret we left Manang, but again it was best with gear and a porter. Manang has a lot of day hikes and would be funne to explore, but then I would feel more guilty about not going over the pass. 

Rakees although his English was near non existent was very good at figuring out what was needed,  almost too good. I am not used to that kind of service. And it was a lot easier to let him make arrangements.

 We arrived at the requisite 7 am and of course stood around for quite some time, I not know what was going on. One jeep left 2 drove up from somewhere. One western couple walked in got in a jeep and with only 3 other people they took off. Finally we loaded bike with careful supervision and other gear. Then 10 of us boarded. Because I paid more or I was a westerner or whatevet I was given the privileged left front seat. And only 3 of us up front. Next to me sat a Nepali who also had altitude sickness while up at 4900 meters. I understand it was a very arduous 13 hour descent with him. But feeling good now. Turns out the girl of the couple whom I saw later also had altitude sickness, the day I did. 

There were 4 in back seat and 3 standing in back, including Rakees. I would have paid for him up front but had no idea how the disbursement went.  There is definitely a local price on everything. Ok by me as they make next to nothing. 

Off we went bouncing immediately and soon came to next village where we brought full complement of people to 14. A lady with her 1 year, and one other guy.  She got  privileged seat sitting in the back. After a few hours she and babe were moved up to left rear seat. 

10 hours with everyone speaking Nepali gives one time to ponder. It did not take long for my mind to go numb though, unfortunately my body did not follow and it became bruised on the left side from hitting the door and frame so many times. To say it was a rough 4 wheel drive road is an understatement.  Probably one of the roughest roads I have ever been on, much of requiring 4 wheel low and all requiring 4 wheel drive.

bicyclers coming up the toad
keep in mind this is a two way road and one drives on the left
i could only take pictures whrn the road was smooth

And so for 85 kilometers in 10 hours, with a lunch break at the waterfall, near where we started bicycling a while back 
Chyamche warrrfalls

And I had been told there was a wave of trekkers beginning. It was true peak season is yet a couple weeks away. I am told at peak a thousand people a day cross the pass. 

the trekkers are coming

We are at sunset and started pouring rain. It took 4 hotels before we found one with two rooms. Rakees nearly collapsed when he jumped down from jeep. It was downhill and he gladly accepted offer to coast the bicycle down. I carried my bag. Whooppee!

A very quick meal and I was asleep. 

Next morn at 06:30 up and at em. Pouring rain!  I did not know it could rain so hard. 8 am and we were on mini bus (a Toyota van) to pokhara. A much more sedate drive than bus from Kathmandu to besishahar. Horn only went off about every 10 seconds and did not have the turbo boost of the bus. (Both engine and horn). Arrived to busy pokhara about 12:30 so noisy could not get phone call through to hotel and ended up taking a cab. Rakees was to leave next day but bus to Kathmandu in an hour so took same cab back and a long bus ride to Kathmandu. I never did know if he has another job. 

After eating a great meal of Dahl baht I collapsed in room. 

Awake and did a bit of walk about town. Cannot see lake as all built up along waterfront (without any view) pokhara although nicer than katnandu has become another city. Lots of adventures and things to buy jungle tours, trekking, zip lines, rafting, bungee jumping, hang gliding, home stays, dvenryres af nauseum. I just want to ride my bicycle. 

But started insurance claim. How do you explain you have no receipt for the jeep ride yesterday because they had no paper. Today the hotel drove to a copy store to print out an email I had sent that needed printing. 

But am glad I got a Nepal SIM card for phone as the 11 minute call to insurance company cost 23 cents. But the physician and hospital charged $100 to sign form saying I had altitude sickness. Should have donated the $45 to Himalayan rescue association in manang. I did not because wasn’t sick as I had recovered then, and why would you pay $45 for a doctor signature. (Because the insurance company says you will). Combination of third world and first world problems. 

Oh I forgot and will add after published. This morning hot up for breakie and there sat Rien. He arrived late last night after a horrendous 13 hour bus ride from Jonson. In descending from the pass he hit a rock and front tire popped off and uncontrolled. He went over handlebars and did something to shoulder. Went to Jomsom for x-rays but did not show anything. But he is also off ride. Going home as unlike me can’t ride or carry anything. Bummer. But was good to see even if he did only get one more day than me. 

Things change fast 

The story of life is quicker 

Than the wink of an eye

The story of love is hello and goodbye

Until we meet again

Jimmie Hendrix 

Ok arose yesterday morn packed and ready, but a bit of a headache. Weird as rest day yesterday and this headache was a bit different but whatever. Took a diamox for potential altitude sickness although feeling no ill effects. Off we went through the alleys and narrow paths between buildings and  began climbing. Up up and up. Rose 300 meters (about a thousand feet) in 5 kilometers: in other words we all pushed a lot. I did practice carrying bike which I had porters build me a special head strap for the bike. 

Then got to ride intermittantly, but I began to slow and my demons began to emerge in my thoughts. Why am I doing this? What the heck is the use of this. I mentioned the thoughts to Bridget who I was walking with and she agreed. We said we felt we just wanted to get this trip over and two weeks later begin planning something more horrendous. Paul though said it has been proven that when one goes on vacation one loses several IQ points.  Oh the human mind. 

crossing Marshyangdi

But I began to slow and cough more. I had been coughing at night, blaming it on riding in Kathmandu pollution. (Horrible and dumb to not wear a mask) at least it was green and not red. But it worsened and I was slowing more. Once Junga came back and offered to push my bike. Normally I would resent that, but I gladly accepted. Then I pushed over some very rideable fun single track. Then climbed and slowly 7.5 hours after leaving and 15 kilometers came near Thorong Phedi one of the highest camps before the pass. Paul came down and pushed my bike. I was done in but then we all were. I went inside building and all our group face down on table. 

I rested a bit, helped the porters put up tents climbed in and laid out futzing with gear. After about 45 min call came for soup ready and I began to climb out of tent trying to put on shoes which were proving troublesome. I had one on and Buck came over saying he had a doc with him to just check on me. I sat there and gave my story he said normally one should be breathing more normal after 10 minutes rest. I was as exhausted as just after the ride and breathing at 36 per minute. He said my lips were a bit blue.  I finally got my other shoe on and he had me walk heel toe straight line which I definitely had trouble with. He recommended I go down

I sort of expected this because I felt miserable, but the words kicked me. Buck asked Kami about delays and he said not really possible. Sometimes I hate commercial trips, no room for change. The decision was mine: I asked about in the morning as 4:15 and dark at 6:30. Doc said decision mine but that would be bad as altitude sickness can progress rapidly especially at night. Basically I could die overnight. 

I asked for help from the group and again words even the simplest and not profound words sometimes have the most meaning. Michelle said “I would rather have you alive than dead” 

I thought ok then said oh this will be a great downhill ride. Immediately the doc, Buck, and Kami said absolutly not.  A porter would push my bike carry my duffle bag and his stuff, and probably be out of a job when we got down. 

Thus I threw gear together as now 4:15 and time to go. I felt lousy mentally and physically. Tears were held back amongst many of us. My planned Nepal trip was over. 

Only maybe 50 meters done and Michelle yelled down something and all I could do was barely raise my trekking pole in acknowledgement. I was exhausted and starting a 15 kilometer trek which I had just come up. 2 hours til dark. 

rakees pushing my bike abd carrying my load plus hus
But amazing every step down felt better. Headache had worsened during the day and still very painful and continuing to hack up a lung, but every meter down felt good. By 7 pm we had made about 9 k and was very dark. Passed s hotel still open and I decided best to stop. We got some rooms and I felt a bit better. I was  still coughing but much less, and headache diminished. 

Morning came and began the steep descent into Manang and I felt good but tired. Gangapurna rises above us 3000 meters above with its magnificent hanging glaciers, ridges, icefalls with Annapurna 4 just to the north. Guess I won’t see Annapurna 1 this trip. 

trek outThen as we descended going below 4000 meters I realized I was feeling a lot  better, but legs were quite sore. Also the morning rush of trekkers was coming up; questioning why I was going backward. ( the circuit is usually done in a counterclockwise direction). I began to now realize I was on a new trip. It is over two weeks before flight home. Why rush home just because I have no plan here. 

Rakees ( my porter) speaks only a few words of English so was difficult to figure out anything. But we managed. I was thinking riding back to besishahar where we started, but had a big bag, porter and exhausted legs to deal with. A couple from Norway suggested a jeep out (there is a road now, which we rode  in) duh but I had ridden 15 kilometers at the start in jeep and it was wild, and took 4 hours. This is over 85 kilometers and well I will just say scary. 

Rakees immediately went to find jeep on arrival, but not available. Whew. I was already beat and might like a rest day. He found one available for tomorrow at 7 am. Will take all day and be prepared to bounce, sway, and get thrown around in an overcrowded vehicle he motioned. Sign me up. 

Apparently in peak season in about 3 weeks a thousand people a day cross Thorong la and 1 a day will develop altitude sickness. 

Went to Himalayan rescue clinic just to check in. Talked with them and numerous others and one generally never sleeps more the 500 meters higher than night before. We had been doing a thousand. 

Turns out the doc yesterday was just a trekker (but also a doc) but when I told story they verified good decisions. I attended the altitude lecture given by the docs at Himalayan rescue center. Great lecture and again learned a lot. They said would probably be ok to hang around here and hike and enjoy Manang but going lower would also be a good decision. These mountains have been around for 500 million years and will probably be around for quite a while. I can return. 

Chame-Manang

We arrived Chame somewhat early about 2 pm. Was 17 kilometer but 840 meters of hard climbing. My GPS showed only 13 kilometer for the day. Today though, I found the setting for pause when stopped. It was set at 5.4 kilometers an hour, a normal walking pace. Hence anything less did not register. We walked a lot and it was definitely slow walking. I changed it to 1 km/ hr today and will drop it further. 

Kami our lead guide was unable to find a camping place so we had to stay in hotel. It filled up but our rooms were on the street away from hotel commons and restaurant so somewhat quiet. 

Inns in Nepal have progressed from sleeping in a big communal room with smoke stack stopping before exiting roof. Now own room or shared with one other. Still no heat but a sheet and comforter. 1 light and 1 plug in room. Rein and I both worried about the cleanliness of sheets and decided on our sleeping bags. But by morn I only had my sleeping bag over me and I was all over the bed. 

Paul and I went with one of Sherpas to public free hot spring and had a great bath with some of locals. We went almost as soon as arrival because it would take a while for porters to make it with our gear. Just went in water with bike pants, but it was still warm and although deep in canyon sun still up. 

Others wanted to wait for gear and clothes and when they went a local family had taken over and refused them entry. 

Wifi available for 150 rupees (about$1.50) and for duration of stay. Most place are only for an hour. And the owner said he paid extra for good wifi his wifi is better than most which often does not work, especially when numerous people sign on. And this was 150 rupees for the duration of stay, usually only an hour. So I signed on and gushed out that last missive.

But a bit chilled later as cooling off now that we are gaining elevation. Chame at 2745 (9000 ft). My gear finally arrived and we had  a great dinner. Momo’s, green beans, peeled vegetable salad, sardines in a tomato sauce, fried potatoes, and boiled potatoes. Seems I am only one who likes sardines but all thought the meal great and finished off with a banana pie. 

Kami found a jeep to take kitchen staff and our gear to Manang, a distance of 29 kilometer. That way we would have our gear otherwise we would have to stop part way and cut into our rest day. 

They left in the jeep, the remaining porters began trekking with 10-15 kilogram loads. And we cyclists began ascending. View of Annapurna II above us and the Marshyangdi below us. The road continues as a jeep track with some big drop offs. 

But entered pine tree forest and I remembered bits and pieces of the trip in 1988. The  venders along road with Nepal stuff. And topped out a steep hill with road cut in side of Clif and a long valley. We got almost 10 kilometers of rideable road. 

marsgyandi valley. annapurna II above

Arrived Manang and all excited about a rest day. Acclimate to the 3540 meter altitude (11700 feet) before the two day push to pass at 5460 meter. (17600). 

Rest day yahoo. All tired dirty. Showers or porters brought us all pans of hot water for cleaning, some washed their own laundry, I gave mine to hotel  got 700 rupees ($7.00) 

And we are camping in the cabbage patch behind a restaurant.  Our cooks cook our meals in shed or on ground outside. 

Rained hard this morning and was very humid. Expected it to be cooler but warm 15-25 (55-75f). 

And bring a rest day one does not want to lose what one has gained so Kami took us on a short trek this morn up to gangapurna glacier overlook, about 5 k. 

Worked on bikes I think I have generator fixed. And derailleur cleaned as it has been giving me grief. Paul bled his brakes as the tiny air bubbles will expand at altitude. Mine seem ok. It is the engine which is problem. 

Wifi is a bit slow here and may be for some time. One is always surprisedsuffice it to say Nepal is incredible as ever. Manang a gorgeous village sitting below Annapurna III and IV, and Ganggapurna, Tulicho further up the valley. The locals say Nepal mountain do not start until 7000 meters the rest are foothills. I will leave it at this for now as more things to do. 

break and rest time
locals bringing in the fields

First days

Man is nothing else but what he makes himself 

Jean Paul Sartre  (on our bike guides t-shirt)

Up at 5:45 breakie ride to bus then a wild and crazy bus ride arriving besishahar and transfer to 2 jeeps. 2 jeeps, 2 driver, 2 assistant, 8 of us, our gear and 8 bikes.   4 hour hard core 4 wheel drive arriving 7:15. Whew lots and exhausted. The wild ride of mr. Toad

Next day and we began our first real ride. We managed 16 kilometers in almost 4 hours. Technical riding Rocky steep and huge drop offs. In a canyon which I figure is over 2 kilometers deep. We are at 1900 meters here in dhalapani and the peaks above which, we have not seen, are 7900 meters. 

The monsoon has not departed as yet and the waterfalls are raging as is the marshyangdi river which continues up the valley. We are riding through jungle and it is very lush growth. Occasional rain but mostly at night, sometimes very hard. 

And we arrived earlier than our porters which have all our gear. We no longer feel bad about carrying a 10% tip for the porters (a total of $420 each). We have two guides, a bike and overall guide, one cook, 4 kitchen boys, 12 porters, and two general apprentices for a total of 21 for our 8. The porters carry supposedly a max of 35 kg. My bag is 17, Rein’s is 16. And the porter carrying our bags had a sack of potatoes on top. We estimate over 50 kg and wearing flip flops. Amazing people and happy. 

Fun afternoon as arrived here at village of dhalapani about noon and porters did not arrive til about 3:30 so no change of clothes battery chargers, solar chargers etc. 5 of us started up another valley. Two suspension bridges which are pretty wild to ride across. They are much improved from the wooden flats often broken from years ago, but you watch where you are riding with no looking around as do not want to hit handlebar on side. You are also a long way up. Apparently there was a landslide up valley and Janga, our bike guide says you do not want to be in area when it has been raining. Do we turned around and came back to sit around camp awaiting gear. 

I decided I wanted to see what carrying one of the loads is like, so walked back down with Janga, our bike guide, who said not the first one as it was probably too heavy.  Here in Nepal they use tumplines over the head, instead of shoulder straps and waist belt. And either our packs are strapped into a bundle or stuff is put in a big basket. Second one I tried and when I got up the load tipped over but they were ready. Back in town center I took the load again. 35-40 kg. ;(80-90lbs) 

I then had to walk through town center where nearly all the inhabitants were lining the street. ( not much to do here I suppose) laughter and comments on who the new porter was. Wow I am impressed and I was in bike shoes as opposed to the flip flops the regular porter wore and he trekked 16 kilometers whereas I did 100 meters. 

But all gear arrived and as soon as loads delivered, without a break the porters were setting up tents. We riders got out our batteries and those with solar chargers began their work. I charged phone and GPS and am glad I got extra batteries for camera as first battery died this pm 

It has been a wild couple of days now have a wifi connection and feel urge to post before it goes down  

lots if help for flat tires

So have posted this but rereading difficult. Sorry about that but lots going on and I jot down notes as I can. Now adding as I realize it is 3:30 am in anchorage and 5:15 pm here in Nepal. 

Everyone is tired. I ride walk and think what have I done, I can’t do this, then look at the others and realize they are feeling the same. And as I have mentioned these are some of the strongest and most amazing riders I have ever ridden with. Sometimes one will be able to climb a hill next time not and someone else can. We all take our rounds of exhaustion.  And we are riding 17 kilometers a day in 4 hours. That is about the farthest distance  the porters can go and it takes them 8 hours. 

Currently two are down feeling somewhat sick. A bummer because one must keep riding. Fluids rest and pepto bismol is my answer thus far, and only feeling a bit of stomach jitters occasionally but I keep the toilet paper always handy.  I do feel the lungs are congested, but that I feel is the ride about Kathmandu without a mask. Altitude is not going to help. Only 2700meters so far (8900 feet) 

Nepal is incredible. Obviously poor but everyone seems happy.  This valley is gorgeous deep and steep. The road continues as a very rough 4-wheel drive road two way traffic and drops of several hundred meters without guard rails. I walked about 1/2 today due to steepness and roughness. When rideable usually technical with rocks, holes, flowing water, (sometimes deep)