The five days we spent in Kathmandu were mostly devoted to recovery. We slept long, ate lots of Italian and Indian food and did very little. Marcia went to the spa at the Hyatt Regency, a little bubble of the western world on the edge of town.
We did make a one-overnight outing to Bhaktipur, an old restored city about 12 kilometers from Kathmandu. Historically there were three cities that made up the Kathmandu Valley. Kathmandu and Patan are quite close and now almost merged into a single city. But Bhaktipur, at the other end of the valley and on the trade route to Tibet, was left relatively untouched until the 1980s, when a German group helped restore it and put in a modern sewage system. The result is a kind of working museum city with some of the best temples and monuments in Nepal.
On our very first night back, we had dinner with Sange Sherpa, the guide who had led us on an 18-day trek to the Everest region in 1999-2000. He is now running a pizza parlor in Barcelona and married to a Spanish woman named Merse. They were back to repeat their wedding celebration in his village in eastern Nepal. Sange is a really interesting fellow who now speaks four languages fluently. We were one of his first clients when we met him at the mountain airport ten years ago. His brother Ngima organized the Dolpo trek for us.
Before long, we had gathered enough strength to start talking about and planning our next trek to the Annapurna region. We considered proposals from both our Dolpo guide Kinna and our cook Sonam, who also does guide work. It was a difficult decision because we liked both of them, but we ultimately chose Sonam, who was more organized and had a really good bond with Marcia.
Just after we locked in our departure date as November 11, I came down with the worst allergy and asthma attack I’ve had in years. For two days I sneezed and coughed so badly that I feared I would be in no condition to hike. But we had set wheels in motion that were hard to stop, so we continued with our plan. Fortunately, I found the right combination of medicines and was able to get things under control just as I was packing.