In my Moments from the sky entry in the journal, the idea of leaving home for this adventure was still very new. Adrenaline was pumping. Boyce and I landed in an easy routine of dashing through airport security to find a good lounge, have a sandwich and a drink, then dash to the gate to hop onto our next flight.
To be honest, the Everest Base Camp trip was the very first in which I learned about the luxury of airport lounging. Afterward, I quickly became a shiny new card carrying member of the Chase Sapphire + Priority Pass.
Traveling solo was typical for both of us – me more so, I think – so it was a curious experience to have conversations and cheers in the lounges along the way. With that distraction, I clearly didn’t write much.
It helped that I’m a hopeless plane sleeper. If I can avoid my love of coffee, I can cave into my even greater love of sleep on any flight.
I honestly don’t remember much of our middle-of-the-night transfers. Or, maybe it was the middle of the day. By the time we reached Kathmandu, we were officially at the heart of a time zone precisely 11 hours and 45 minutes ahead of our own Central time. You guys – I spent the following two weeks of my life completely and utterly confused about the time.
The Kathmandu airport was exactly what I could have never anticipated. It was small and low key by airport standards – something you’d anticipate seeing in a small city in the States. This, though, was their international airport in a very large city. That should have been a clue as to what was ahead.
Groggy, we stood in line to receive our stamps at border control. The moment of truth was strangely unnerving. We’d shipped our passports across the US six months prior to get our visas early. In the moment in line, we would quickly find out if all the boxes had been checked. As always, the first encounter with the local language caught me like a deer in headlights.
We passed through and found our way to a taxi.
While the evening was relatively early, night had fallen over Kathmandu. We zipped through the city in the dark. Lights flickered past the windows – offering very little insight into the surroundings. Without clear sight, we could only feel the chaos of the drive from the backseat. Whipping left and right through the streets, we were propelled down the smallest of alleys until we could drive no further.
In the narrow street, we unloaded bags. The cars and scooters behind ours honked. We were clearly stopping traffic. Gauging the height and scale of the buildings was nearly impossible looking up at a dramatic angle from their bottoms.
Inside the hotel, we were greeted by sofas, coffee tables and benches. We checked into our separate rooms – excited to eventually meet our new friends and roommates for the duration of the trip. Peeking at the trek’s guest list on the wall – I panicked.
Among the list of names, “Lau Catherine” was printed. “Laura N.” was not.
I had paid for the trek, booked hotels, made the entire journey to Kathmandu and – now – in this moment, was seeing that I wasn’t actually part of the trip. Freak out ensued.
With only confirmation of having booked the trek and no response from the help numbers I was calling at the late hour, I had to assume a typo on the printed sheet. Fingers crossed, we went to dinner.
High on a rooftop over the softly glowing city, we clinked beers and ordered something delicious. I don’t remember what it was. Thankfully for photos, it clearly included some noodles, veg, meat and fries.
I remember questioning whether or not I could eat it. I remember worrying about how I would feel afterward. I remember the nagging mental reminder to be conscious of the water and where it came from. I remember wanting sleep but needing food. I remember the overwhelming breathlessness of being so far away from home and being entirely unsure of the adventure I was already on.
I fell asleep that night quietly in the calm of my room – a welcomed serenity from the madness of travel.
A journey, indeed.