Dear friends: I am writing
now from the peaceful Phokara, a little city and it is like the entrance gate
to the Annapurnas and Dhaulagiri chain. In contrast with the craziness and
fast pace of Katmandu, Phokara lives almost in total peace; the little birds
have here all the space in the world to sing from five in the morning, the sun
rises looking in the mirror of the beautiful Phokara lake and part of the
Annapurnas and Machapuchare also salute the reflection; the latter, a
spectacular and towering peak of almost 7,000 m. of altitude (6,997 m) is
considered sacred ground by the Nepalese people. The truth is that this is an
enchanted town, so much that when I opened the curtain of my hotel room this
morning and enjoyed all the landscape I had in front of me, I thought that
with the excuse of spending an unforgettable honey moon in this place, I would
easily marry again.
Now, I have to tell you that
getting here has been a long road filled with much patience, and to continue
with the analogy of getting married again, it has been like those loves that
you sometimes get by chance, with exigencies, a little complicated, which
demand a lot of dedication until you get a definitive YES.
In my last update, I told you
that our trip was frustrated and we had to turn around to Katmandu because
there was no way to pass that road, because of the manifestations of the
Maoist guerrilla. We started the trip again yesterday, Sunday. We left at
seven in the morning from Katmandu, with our fingers crossed to find the
situation corrected and to get up to Phokara. Just when we had left Katmandu,
we met with a line of cars of every kind: cargo trucks, buses, taxis, private
cars, etc.; at least two hundred units. With this panorama and thinking that
there would be a similar number of cars from Phokara to Katmandu, we thought
that covering the distance of just 200 Km would take a while.
Our lane was open at nine
thirty in the morning, so it had been two hours waiting, and from there we
started the procession to the coveted city. We advanced just a few meters and
then there was another wait of at least an hour each time; curiously the Osho
book which I had chosen to carry in this trip, talked about the value of
PATIENCE, such a coincidence. The truth is that I would have never thought of
putting in practice the suggestions of Osho immediately: the value of patience
is wisdom, don’t expect things to wind up immediately, because you would lose
objectivity and the results would not be the best ones.
For a moment I thought that
in some part of the road, Osho could have found some Maoist leader; if not,
how to explain such a coincidence.
In the slow advance of the
endless line of cars, hours passed by and the travelers made everything we
could think about to enjoy the moment; to read, listen to music, play cards on
the road, eat little Nepalese bananas (because they were very little), drink
water, sleep, take pictures, film; so many possible things with the only
objective of enjoying intensely the moment we were living. Reading
Osho couldn’t have been better.
To make a long story short,
at eight in the evening we finally reached the city of our dreams, after a
trip of 13 hours to cover just 200 kilometers. Doing the math, I discovered
we had traveled at just 15 Km per hour yesterday. How about that! This is
In the evening, as a reward
we had dinner like kings in Mama Mia Restaurant to celebrate our arrival to
Phokara and to calm the fierce hunger we had all day.
Today, I will briefly comment
something about my teammates, because I will later write a specific chronicle.
Right now we are twenty members: ten climbers who are going to Dhaulagiri,
nine out of them are Italian and me, from my Ecuador; there are two more
climbers who will join us next week (Iñaki Ochoa and Peter Guggemos); other
nine teammates are only doing the approach trek to Dhaulagiri and the official
Nepalese link, a representative of the Ministry of Tourism of Nepal assigned
by the government, will go with us during the entire expedition. There is a
good atmosphere, they are good friends and everybody has an excellent
disposition to have a good time.
My dear friends, we will
leave in an hour to Beni, the next little town after Phokara, and from there
we will start the approach trek. I will write the next chronicle somewhere in
that trail. For now, kind regards from beautiful Phokara, an ideal city for a
first or second or whatever HONEYMOON.
With my love,
Iván Vallejo Ricaurte
Translated from Spanish by
ON THE WAY TO PHOKARA
April 2, 2005
Ecuador and the world.
I begin by
telling you that I wanted to write this chronicle from Phokara, a little town
located 250 Km to the Northeast of Katmandu, a place from where the trek to
Dhaulagiri and/or Annapurna starts.
I went to
bed at three and a half in the morning after having set up all the necessary
material for the expedition: food, clothes, technical materials, etc. At four
and a half in the morning, Nima Serpa, my Nepalese friend who owns the agency
that takes care of all the details for the expedition, was ready to put in
order and to distribute the cargo, as well as the expeditioneers in two buses
ready to go, because we are a total of 18 members counting climbers and
companions, for the trip to Base Camp. With all the paraphernalia ready and
with sleepy faces most of us, we left the hotel at six fifteen in the morning.
I was lucky with the seat I chose because it was the best and I could stretch
as much as I wanted and I could recover the many hours of sleep I owed to my
little Latin body. Thus, I rendered myself to Morpheus.
forty five minutes I realized, between my dreams that the bus had stopped. I
didn’t worry at all, because I was only interested in sleep, I guess it was
what everybody was interested about. After the insistence of Manuelito Lugli
(coordinator of the expedition) to know what was the problem, we learned that
the traffic jam was because the Nepalese army was checking, vehicle by vehicle
in a check point, as a security measure to prevent any trouble by the famous
the line of cars waiting, the most optimistic guess to reach the check point
was two hours. I got the information and I rolled back to continue sleeping.
dreams and because my body was twisted due to discomfort, I thought two hours
had gone by. The effect of time passed but our bus or the ones in front or
behind us had not moved an inch. Coming back from the other world, I opened
one eye, then the other, I stretched first and then I shook away by sleep like
a cat and decided to find out by my own means the end of this matter. When I
saw the amazing line of all kind of vehicles that were waiting for this check
point, I immediately remembered Kafka’s Chinese wall, when he talks about
infinitum and the never-ending. That was exactly what I had before my eyes:
hundreds or maybe thousands of stopped vehicles waiting to get an order to
continue the trip to Phokara.
mess could not be possible for an operation of a simple check, we investigated
completely and found out that in a trail of more or less one kilometer the
Maos had obstructed the road and the militaries were taking measures to clean
up the way, and they were not brave enough for fear of more attacks.
passed, then noon came, then one in the afternoon, then it was two o’clock and
we hadn’t moved an inch since we were planted there at seven in the morning.
At three, without a sign for solution, starving, we looked for a place to
eat, fortunately there are chickens and good will all around the world and we
could calm our hunger, the heat, the boredom and the fatigue with a great
chicken soup and noodles.
remained chatting at the table until four in the afternoon with the hope to
continue our trip but no, it was impossible. So we just turned around and
went back to Katmandu.
Here I am
back again, with the hope to pass early tomorrow towards Phokara where we will
start our approach trek to Dhaulagiri.
nuances remind me of my dear Ecuador, where you cannot get bored because the
surprises and the creativity assault us every step of the way.
my love from the capital of Nepal, waiting to continue;
from Spanish by Jorge Rivera