Thursday, March 27, 2008

Power.. more power

This morning, the below flyer slid under my door:

It basically said that there would be "intermittent power disruptions due to load shedding by the Nepal Electricity Authority" in one of the greatest understatements of this trip so far. I say that only because there's nothing better than being stuck in a pitch black elevator for several minutes and then experiencing five power outages a day. Since everything in this country is still paper-based, I did find it amusing though that we were informed of this load shedding via a paper announcement while I filled out a paper visa extension form while staring at a paper visa receipt that was filled out with paper upon arrival. Man, what a BPR effort could accomplish here. But then again, what should I truly expect in a developing country where UN patrol vehicles freely roam the streets?

Went to dinner tonight at a local restaurant known as Fire & Ice for pizza with Willie, Fredrico and another team leader Willie knows who also has several summits under his belt. It was amazing sitting across the table from these two guys who combined have 9 Everest summits to their credit. Here's hoping that in a few weeks the four of us will again be sitting in the same chairs with 13 summits to lay claim to.

This meal came only after I had conducted a final gear check where I had gear spread out all over my hotel room. The below picture shows with pride what it looked like:

Remember all those gripes about how much crap I was hauling across the world, especially after getting hit with excess baggage fees by one Asian carrier after another? Well, as it turns out I'm apparently packed "light", as I learned today. Francisco brought five bags (FIVE) worth of gear, and Willie even has a storage locker here in Kathmandu. Fine by me though, I'm already used to things being Spartan so no big deal truth be told. I repacked into a trekking bag (light sleeping bag, day pack, toiletries, etc) and all my mountaineering gear went into a duffel that I won't see till arriving at Base Camp.
I did need to pack one piece of squish gear though- something that I can toss around with the Sherpas and keep busy in what may erode down to the highest altitude football game in the world:

Coke is everywhere in this country- it's logo displayed proudly everywhere. A few years back I was driving down this death-defying (and in some cases I actually saw where death won) mountain road that winds down from Kathmandu to the grasslands of the Terai. About four hours outside of Kathmandu and thirty minutes after seeing any sign of civilization, you drive right through the center of this little town called "Coca Cola Village". I'm not kidding- everything is awash in the Coke logo, Coke signs, Coke bottles, and all buildings are painted in that familiar Coke red.

Speaking of red.. Maoists. Everyone has to have heard at this point of what's going on in Nepal with the Maoists and their efforts to take over the country. The first democratic elections are due to take place in just a series of days now- the countdown clock plastered on the front page of the Himalayan Times shows 14 days now and all of the European Commission Observers walking around the Yak & Yeti lobby give away how close it is. So even with all that, the Maoists are supposed to be in control of a good part of the country while the Nepali Government is technically still in control of the capital. Here's one election banner among hundreds that states otherwise, and a quick pic of Nepali campaigning= aka drive around with a loudspeaker while throwing flyers out the window and onto a street that already is in need of a serious sweeping. I think I sneezed 10 times today:

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