In Pokhara – with the Plague
Had things gone according to plan, Zac and I should have been heading up a glacier today, en route to Everest Base Camp.
But… this is us. So instead I’m whining about my cold.
For currently we are hacking up our lungs in Pokhara, looking up at the Annapurna range towering over Lake Fewa, already glistening with a dusting of snow, and wondering when we’ll be well enough to commit to a flight into Lukla.
(Lukla is, fact fans, the start of the Everest Base Camp trail, unless you fancy adding another six days and 9000-odd vertical metres by walking in from the nearest bus stop. Which, much as I’d like to cut our carbon footprint, neither of us do.)
The longer we leave it, you see, the chillier it gets up there.
But it would be absolutely insane to head to altitude in mid-November with a cold, or even the vaguest hint of a chest on either of us.
And so, we’re kind of stuck. We’re not at death’s door, mark you.
But there’s no point in heading south, where there are rhinos and tigers, as that means giving up on Everest.
There’s no point in flying into Lukla, or even booking flights, until we’re well.
Kathmandu ain’t conducive to a cough.
Now, whining notwithstanding, Pokhara is a beautiful place. With a gadzillion attractions. There’s whitewater rafting, whitewater kayaking, kayaking classes, paragliding, yoga, hiking, dazzling sunsets and sunrises, interesting museums…
None of which are best appreciated while expectorating crud left, right and centre and working through a small forest of tissues.
In normal life, one would be forcing oneself out of the door to go to work/school. But forcing oneself out of the door to go whitewater rafting, trekking, kayaking?
I don’t mean to whine.
Well, actually, I do, cos having a cold sucks.
And whining about my cold makes me feel better.
But, frankly, we haven’t had the best year, health-wise.
It is, with hindsight, entirely predictable that I’d come down with some kind of cough, or, as I prefer to call it, an Upper Respiratory Infection, the second I hit a climate that was anything less than tropical.
Most visitors to Kathmandu at this time of year do, and given I’ve
caught colds acquired respiratory infections from Spain, China, Australia, Bulgaria and Blighty over the last twelve months, it would seem remiss of me to leave Nepal without adding that to my tally of disease.
But it’s not usual for Zac to get colds.
That said, life could be worse.
It is better to be hacking up a lung and emitting mucus from multiple orifices here than on a trekking trail. During the day, the weather can be as crisp, blue and sunshine-warm as an English June, the kind of pure sunlight that makes you turn your face to it and bathe in it.
Pokhara is a beautiful place. The Nepalese are lovely. The food is excellent. And Diwali, which I’ll write about, was entertaining even in our enfeebled state.
And, let’s face it, it’s not as if our plague is uncommon.
Round about 5.30am, our guesthouse springs into life in a maelstrom of early morning coughing reminiscent of a Dickensian workhouse full of oversized tubercular orphans.
And, you know, we could be like the poor guy in the Chinese restaurant last night. The one who vomited all over his table – in not one, but several installments — so loudly and copiously that I almost joined him.
And then, which is just bizarro, seemed absolutely unembarrassed by this occurrence.
I mean, seriously, even in Nepal, after round one you’re going to make it to the bathroom, right? Right? (It was a nice bathroom. With a throne, running water, and everything.)
One thing I am longing for, oddly, is Chinese medicine. Reading this post left me desperate for the terrifying efficacy of Chinese concoctions – because if there’s one thing the Chinese know about, it’s colds.
Earthworm and human placenta? Bring it on!
Here in Nepal, we’re on Western medicine, which, as Zac points out, doesn’t work on colds.
And Western medicine times about ten. I should probably have gone and found some Tibetan healer and given that a go, astrology and all.
But no. I went to the pharmacy to pick up some Vitamin C and throat sweets and ended up on a gramme and a half of Amoxycillin daily plus Zac’s bodyweight in pseudoephedrine.
Zac? Well, he flat-out refused to take antibiotics without a doctor’s prescription — “No doctor’s going to prescribe antibiotics for a cold…” “We’re in NEPAL! The PHARMACISTS are giving out antibiotics like sweeties, what do you think the doctor’s going to do?” — so he’s on honey and lemon and inhaling Strepsils, both through a cheap Chinese surgical mask.
On the plus side, I’ve given up smoking. I was planning to do this en route to Everest Base Camp, so bringing the date forward seemed to make sense.
And I’m guessing the boy and I will get well at about the same time…
He turns 12 on Monday, so I’m hoping it’s in time for then. He’s planning on paragliding, so wish him luck.