My helicopter is late

My helicopter is late. He should have been here 15 minutes ago. Of course in Nepal as long as he arrives in a month with out and “r” in it he is right on time. After a while I hear the wopping of the rotors. I pull all my duffel bags out in the overnight snow for easy and speedy loading. This is definitely no frills curb side service since he never shuts down and it is probably poor form to get out of a running helicopter anyway. He gets louder and now I can see him getting bigger and bigger and then smaller and smaller as he flies right over my head and keeps going. Well at least now that I have pulled my duffel bags out I have a place to sit in the sun and contemplate my fate.

This is Karma country so maybe I am being punished. Yesterday I passed a couple on the trail. She was balling her eyes out and he was trying to console her. This is a pretty common occurrence on this trail to Base Camp especially as you get this high. People just reach their breaking point when they have had enough and do not want to go on. I am guessing that she has reminded him about when he said “honey, you’ll love this. Anybody can go to the beach. We’ll trek to Everest Base Camp!” All the fight seems to be gone out of her now but yesterday she probably was beating him with her trekking pole. You can tell which member of the couple whose idea this wasn’t because their’s is the trekking pole that is slightly bent. Of course those new graphite poles don’t bend but I bet they leave a mark. In any case I make it a point to mind my own business.

Unfortunately I can’t get it out of my head that they were sitting on a rock about 20 steps from the top of the last hill where they could look straight down on top of the tea houses of Gorek Shep. I mean they were only feet from seeing the promised land and not more than a a few minutes stumble from a new intestinal experience. I should have stopped I supposed and shared the good news but as I pondered the pros and cons I was putting more and more distance between us. Finally I did stop and look back and when I saw how far they were and how much hill I would have to climb to get back my lazy side tipped the scales in favor of non-intervention. So now I am sitting here and my helicopter has forgot me.

Without warning the helicopter comes tearing around the bend and begins setting up to land. I run a few feet from the landing zone and assume the position – bent over away from the rotor blast hand on hat. To late I forget to grab my gortex jacket tail and snow is blown all the way up the back of my jacket to the bottom of my ears. I have more snow inside my jacket than outside but at least he didn’t tip me over on my face. I was to quick for that. Once he realizes he isn’t going to knock me over this time he opens the rear door for us to throw my stuff in and I am on my way down from the ice and rock to the green of Lukla.

Landing is a much more sedate procedure and most of the snow in my jacket has melted. I disembark to the wonderful news that I missed my flight to Lukla by 10 minutes. The third flight is already full but there may be a fourth flight if the winds hold since there are a lot of Bad Karma people like me wanting to go home today. Just for fun they issue us boarding passes. Do you know what a boarding pass at Lukla, Nepal means? Nothing. Two hours later they remember to tell us “oh no more flights today – too windy”. No explanation why they let us sit on the tarmac two hours all clutching our little boarding passes like life preservers. It wasn’t because some of us were foreigners either because about half the prospective passengers were Nepali. I think they have a betting pool on how long we would sit out there on the ramp straining to hear a non-existent plane coming before some one asked what was going on. And the winner is two whole hours.

I checked into a tea house owned by the man who sold me the ticket. He assures me he will do his best to get me out in the morning. Of course in Nepal scheduled passengers fly first. What that means is all the people who are scheduled out tomorrow will go before all the people who had their flight canceled today. Call it the Bad Karma clause. He did get me a nice room.