from Namche to Thyangboche
of the Khumbu
that got us there
Todd Burleson calls Namche Bazaar "the Beverly Hills of the Khumbu." It's easy to see why. At about 11,500', Namche is a prosperous and pleasant place, although not nearly as big as the nearby villages of Khunde and Khumjung. The houses are large and comfortable, and the setting in its famous bowl unparalleled.
In a way, the place is the center of the Sherpa universe, particularly on Saturdays when the Namche market brings people from all over the region to buy and sell everything from meat to grain to Chinese tennis shoes from Tibet. Wally Berg, Charles Corfield, and I have been strolling through the market when we decide to take a break and stop at Ong Chu's house.
Ong Chu is the expedition cook (on the trek and at base camp) and general major domo, a squared-away guy who lives year-round in Namche. Lhakpa Rita, the expedition sirdar, is also at Ong Chu's today. We're all having a cup of hot lemon tea, Wally, Charles, and I are the only gringos in the bunch. It's warm and comfortable inside by the stove, and there's lots of market day activity.
Lhakpa's mom is in town for market from Thame, a day's walk away, and she thinks the three of us are really hysterical. She has the smooth skin and ruddy complexion of so many Sherpas in the region, and to me it seems impossible to estimate ages.
Laughing and smiling, Lhakpa's mom stands up and produces three khatas, Sherpa religious scarves. Wearing a big grin, she carefully places one around each of our necks, and goes away, still laughing, leaving us honored but wondering at the source of her amusement. I look out the window and notice that the snow has finally stopped falling.