Posts Tagged 'birthday'

Congratualtions, You Are Over Fifty!

My first twenty four hours in Kathmandu.  Words once again escape me, and to describe all that I have experienced in this short a time is also going to be hard.  I can describe my emotional state in one word…. intense.  The dirt, heat, sanitation (or lack thereof) population, sights, sounds, color and mainly the squalor.  Traffic like I have never witnessed.  No rules just drivers sharing the road with rickshaws, bicycles, cars, buses, cows and millions of people.  And these roads are tiny even walking is frightening.  I was unable to take many photos yesterday (I am writing this in the dark as the electricity goes out daily all over the city.  The computer is on a generator.) Blackouts are frequent. But taking a picture was more than I could do. I had to first try to absorb all that I was seeing.  I have now been around the world, the number of countries I could not say but I can say I have never seen anything like this.  The air is filled with dust and smoke.  The smoke is from the funeral fires where the Hindus cremate their people out in the open.  They stand in homage until the fire is small, several hours. Then the ashes are swept into the river where bathing, drinking, swimming and general livelihood takes place.  Our eyes burn, we take shallow breaths so as not to cough from all that is undoubtedly airborne.  Tiny children beg but we have been told by the government not to give anything to them, it is very difficult to even pass and not acknowledge.  Both Brooke and I slipped money to a frail lady, funny how we both gave to the same woman.  There was something about her that touched us both. The streets are teaming and I feel like I am back in a time zone to which I have never been.  Leper’s, cripples and car horns.  The nose and push of humanity is everywhere.  When we finally find an enclave into which we can stop and rest we are exhausted.

But despite my western eyes taking in this very strange world, to the Nepalese this isn’t strange at all.  It is I who am the strange one.  I inquired of our Sherpa, Kharma Babu what the life expectancy is.  As you may imagine it isn’t very old.  Few people over fifty anywhere.  I would say the average age of the people I see out on the streets is 20 – 30.  How sad I tell Kharma.  “Oh no,” he tells me, “it is not so sad.  It is a wonderful thing to be old.”  I lament my age and upcoming birthday.  Ah but by Nepal philosophy we look at the young and say “ah ha, we have made it, we survived the 20’s, 30’s.  Congratulations, you are over fifty – and by Nepal standards this is far better than being young!”

I wasn’t too happy about my birthday next week although celebrating it at Everest Base camp is pretty exciting.  Now I’m thinking I may really like this over fifty thing because I too survived my youth and that’s not really a bad thing now is it?

Tomorrow we fly to Lukla and begin our trek to Everest base camp then on to Baruntse.  Our itinerary changes by the moment because of the Nepal elections and the Chinese army also at Everest Base camp both on the north and south side.  No satellite phones allowed, not computers and no Sherpa allowed (they are Tibetans) so we are adjusting as we go and will plan accordingly.  We rely on the Sherpa for our safety and progress through the Himalaya so we will see what tomorrow brings.  We are registered to climb in Nepal so from there the adventure begins.

More to follow.

Climb On!


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About Wendy Booker

In June of 1998, this 55 year old mother of three was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS after experiencing balance problems, blurred vision and numbness on her left side. When first diagnosed, Wendy was devastated. But it took very little time for her to transform anguish into inspiration. She immediately turned her hobby of casual running into a continuous pursuit and has now completed nine marathons.

Mountain climbing became the next conquest. Wendy learned about a team of mountain climbers with Multiple Sclerosis who were attempting to climb Mt. McKinley (Denali) in Alaska. With no previous climbing experience, she dedicated a year to hard training and set off with them in 2002. Although weather conditions prohibited the team from completing, Wendy attempted the summit again in 2004 on her own and she succeeded!

The feeling of accomplishment she experienced propelled her next aspiration: to climb the highest mountain on each continent. Just five years later, Wendy Booker has successfully reached the top of six of The Seven Summits – Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. McKinley, Mt. Elbrus, Mt. Aconcagua, Mt. Vinson Massif and Mt. Kosciuszko. Mt. Everest, the highest mountain on earth, still awaits for 2010.