The time I went trekking…

Saturday 26th April 2008

Well, I went trekking.

I had planned to spend my trekking time quietly contemplating stuff and generally moping over Hot German, who left a couple of weeks ago. I was all geared up for a proper sulk and a bit of wallowing in self-pity, but unfortunately during the 8-hour bus ride down to Pokhara I realised I was already over it.
Bit of a shame, as I was hoping all my indignant rage that he didn’t want me might power me up the mountain, but sadly realised I’d have to rely on my poor little legs instead.

I arrived in Pokhara on Wednesday afternoon, where I met the others in our group.
There was a German girl called K, who is also coming to volunteer at our orphanage for a couple of weeks, and a German guy called T. There was a lovely couple called J and K, he’s from the US and she’s from Canada, and a girl from Switzerland called M.

Aside from our guide Dorge, there were also two porters to help carry our bags, although I hardly brought anything and most of the others wanted to carry their own packs.
We set off after breakfast Thursday morning, and took an hour and a half bus-ride up to the starting point of our trek. Myself, K and M were doing a 5-day trek to Poon Hill and Ghorepani, while the other three were continuing on from there to Annapurna Base Camp on a nine-day trek.

I felt really nauseous during the bus-ride up there, but figured I was just a bit car-sick, as it had been a pretty bendy road!
We set off around 9am, although it was already boiling hot – it’s much hotter down here than in Kathmandu!
As we wandered along I was feeling increasingly unwell, and my breakfast was sitting like a rock in my stomach. I had to slow down and trailed behind the others, although Dorge our nice guide kept pace with me at the back.
We stopped for lunch at 11.30, and the others ordered food but I couldn’t face anything. As their food arrived I immediately stood up, walked quickly to the edge of a rice field where I was rather violently sick.
However I felt miles better after that, and we carried on the second half of the day’s walking.
I lagged behind again and found it really really hard work. The second leg was almost all uphill, up stone staircases, and we climbed up about 300m in an hour. (Prob not that impressive to anyone else, but I found it very hard work!).
I tried to drink lots of water, as I was sweating furiously and was aware I’d lost the entire contents of my stomach. However, despite being really thirsty, all the water I drank was just sloshing around in my stomach as I walked.
The fact that I’d thrown up at lunchtime made everyone very sympathetic to the fact that I was so slow, but honestly I think I’d have found it a struggle anyway! It annoyed me a bit, because I’d mentioned several times before doing it that I was horribly unfit and not sure it was a good idea, but EVERYBODY said it was really easy, and anyone could do it, blah blah blah.
Apparently I’m far more unfit than anyone could have possibly believed!
I eventually crawled up the last few steps to our guesthouse (where the others had been for quite some time!). We rested for a bit and then decided to go and have a dip in the mountain stream just a couple of minutes away.
It was very cold, but lovely and refreshing, and I was starting to feel much better. I had a  carton of juice and some crackers and then we went back to shower and drink tea.

Then, naturally, things went wrong again.
I got suddenly very violently sick again, and decided to call it a night, even though it was only about 5pm!

I took a bucket up to my room, which was a very good thing, because after that every time I tried to drink any water at all I just threw it straight back up. I felt utterly wretched, and super-dehydrated, but couldn’t drink any water no matter how thirsty I was. The others were really kind and thought maybe I had food-poisoning. I honestly don’t know what I had, but it was extremely nasty and violent.
J gave me an anti-nausea/anti-vomiting tablet, but I threw it straight up again, so that didn’t help.
I managed to doze off for a bit, but woke up at 9pm and that’s when the diahorrea started. For about an hour I was really really sick, at both ends, and completely exhausted by it all, and then gradually I stopped throwing up and just had diahrroea.

By morning I was soooo weak and shaky, and so dehydrated my eyes were dry and hurting, and I had a splitting headache.
The second day’s hike was supposed to be much more gruelling than the first, as on the 1st day we’d only climbed from 1000m to 1577m, but the second day we had to go up to 2,800m.
No one was suprised when I made the decision to turn back.
It seemed like a sensible thing to do, as I was exhausted, I’d had no food or water for pretty much 24 hours, and if I got really sick going up, and collapsed or something, then the others would end up having to carry me down, which would ruin their trek too. (Plus there’s the embarrassment factor – I may have lost weight but I’m still a pretty big girl, and I didn’t like the idea of anyone having to haul my arse down a mountain! Although they could always hire a mule….)

So I gathered my stuff and set off back. I assured them I could go back by myself, as the trail was easy to follow and it was mostly downhill, but Dorge insisted I take one of the porters with me just in case. So we set off together, and the walk was much easier
a) because it was earlier and cooler, b) because it was gently downhill almost all of the way, and c) because I didn’t want to throw up the whole time.

I still felt quite shaky coming down, and am glad I did make the right choice, as I got back to the hotel pale and shattered, and the hotel guy was so worried he asked me if I needed to see a doctor.
However, I have managed to keep down some water and juice, and even a bit of bread so far, so I think it was just a very nasty 24-hour bug that’s probably mostly done now.
It’s just really really bad timing that it happened in THAT 24-hour period!
So, I’m back in Pokhara resting quietly for a day or two before I make the long bus-jounrey back to Kathmandu.
The positive things are that I did get to keep my trekking permit as a souvenir, so I can definitely say that I’ve been trekking on Annapurna, even if it was only for two days! Also I walked a total of about 20 km, (10 each way), which was pretty impressive on an empty stomach and almost no water I thought!

Also on a completely random note, the kid’s first day of school on Monday was a complete success. They came back buzzing with excitement as the Class 2 teacher had announced Moti best behaved boy of the class, and Jack was made monitor/captain of class 4 – he was literally beaming with pride!
Also about 4 or 5 kids in class 3 were bumped up a class after they showed their teacher the exam I gave them – apparently because I’ve already taught them about nouns, verbs and adjectives, the teacher said there was no point in them staying in class 3!
They were all super-happy and settling in fast, which is really great!

I’ve now only got a month left, and am starting to steel myself to leave all my lovely kids – I love them so much it’ll be brutal trying to leave.

However, I do feel like I’ve achieved a lot since I got here – the kids are all back at school finally, and they all have beds to sleep in, and a water filter for clean water. Aamaa has bought a couple of extra water storage tanks with our donation money too, so the kids shouldn’t have to go to the well so often.
Anyway, I’m now in that annoying phase where I’m insanely hungry, but still not sure what, if anything, my stomach can cope with! Might try some soup….

Ah well, that about it really.
My total and utter failure at trekking is probably not much of a suprise to most of you, but quite disappointing nonetheless. I’m not sure if I’ll get any of my money back – the guide very sweetly explained that I could stay at the hotel in Pokhara as long as I wanted and all my meals will be paid for (once I can eat them!), and they’ve sorted out my return bus fare, so I don’t know if there’ll be much left to refund! I also need to ask them about the porter who came back with me – he’s already gone straight back to Kathmandu, but I hope he’ll still get paid – I hate to think he’d lost a week’s wages just because I got sick and he had to come back!

So, another exciting adventure involving my digestive tract, hope it wasn’t too graphic for any of you!

tons of love

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