26 January Saturday
Mount Ice View Lodge & Restaurant
This morning I waited for Lal to invite me to sit by the fire. The stove was made of clay-like earth built into the wall. There were two burners. The fire is fed from the end with long pieces of wood that are moved in as they are consumed. At the other end of the stove the chimney goes through a cylindrical hot water tank. I watched Lal expertly chopping carrots, onions, and garlic into fine pieces for the noodle soup we had for breakfast.
In the corner of the room was a burner that uses gas from human waste and other dung. Lal said that human waste works best.
I saw Lal put a small piece of plastic into the fire. My guide book says it is bad etiquette to put trash in people’s fire in Nepal, but now that I had seen Lal do it, I went ahead and burned my snotrag, albeit discreetly. The old crone pulled a glowing stick out of the fire and lit a cigarette.
After breakfast as we were walking out of town I was thinking that there was something strange about the Mount Ice View Lodge; I thought of mentioning it to Lal but was sure that to him it was all nothing out of the ordinary. Out of the blue he said “That was a strange place, wasn’t it?” “What’s with that old woman?” I said. Lal said she’s mostly perfectly normal, but breaks into sudden incoherent babbling. Since it was in Nepali or some other language, I hadn’t been sure it was incoherent. Lal said that the mother of the child told him that the old woman was her mother-in-law, but she was way too old for that. Possibly her mother’s mother-in-law, her father’s mother-in-law, her mother-in-law’s mother, or her father-in-law’s mother.
There were fields of wheat sprouting green. The local Seabuckthorn berries are larger than the ones higher up.
We crossed a suspension bridge to river left, to the old trekking road where vehicles cannot go. Went through the deserted and run down towns of Kokhethanti and Dhumpu. When the road was constructed, they lost business.
Lal received a call on his cell from his brother that was bad news about his father’s health. He wasn’t taking food, and didn’t want to go to a hospital in Kathmandu. Lal wanted to finish the trek with me before going home, which is near Sulu Khumbu. I worried that that would be too late.
Lal received another call, from the Tilicho Lodge in Manang. One of the employees there had seen Lal’s cell phone, and wanted Lal to bring him one the next time he was traveling through.
Just before the suspension bridge that crossed to the right bank of the Kali Gandaki we got the first view of the fabled Annapurna I 8091, Annapurna South 7219, and Bara Chuli (Fang) 7647.
Saw a bird that flicks its tail, Lal called it Thip Thipe Chara. What looked to me like some sort of quail, Lal called a wild pigeon. (Later on a bird chart in a lodge Lal pointed to Francolinus Gularis.)
Took lunch in Lete elevation 2480, at the Old Namaste Lodge. The temperature was about sixty Fajrenheit; I sat outside. It was the first time I ordered Swiss Rosti, which was on every menu. I ordered it with cheese. It was like hash browns made with shredded potatoes, with onions, like at the Waffle House (Topped? Smothered? Diced? Chopped?).
After Lete the road went through a wooded area, traversing the slope on river right. There were some places where one could view Dhualagiri, then turn around 180 degrees and view Annapurna I.
We checked in to the National Guest House Roof Top Restaurant & Bar in Ghasa, Mustang, elevation 2010, around 3 PM. We went for a walk before showering. Saw a lemon tree with big lemons. While Lal went to tourism office to check in my permit, I used the map app on my iPad to show a thin young man, who seemed to be the only person taking care of the place, where I live. I didn’t have very many photos of America.
The meal that night was one of the best on the trek. I ordered the National Special Food:
Dal (lentil soup)
Potato with cabbage curry
Salad with cabbage and spinach
The young man is not the owner, according to Lal. He is a very good cook from south or west Nepal. Lal has known both him and the owner for two years.
I wrote in my journal “It’s getting so I order rakshi every night. I seem to have graduated to two cups.”