Today is my final day in Kathmandu. Everyone is gone and my calendar is pretty packed. At 10:00am I’m meeting with the Nepali local program manager who is working on rebuilding the nunnery in Debuche and through him I’ll be able to send the winter items to the nuns.
At noon, Shailee and Maya will be picking me up to go to Tashi Tenzing’s office where I’ll sign the Everest contract for my expedition next April. (Tashi is Norgay Tenzing’s grandson, the sherpa who took Sir Edmund Hillary to Everest). After that, the 3 of us will head into Thamel and pick up the oxygen equipment I’ll be taking to Everest. Then finally Maya, Shailee and I would sit and wrap up the whole journey.
So given the hectic day, I awoke quite early and prioritized getting a good 90 minute massage that I had been dreaming about since I landed in Nepal. It was overdue and it certainly got me ready for the final day.
It was really sweet to meet Mingna Tenzing, a local Nepali man and guide who has worked with the Tibetan Nuns in Debuche for the last 5 years. Tucka has expressed interest in seeing how we could help the rebuild of the center, hence this meeting. Apparently even before the earthquake, there was a big project put together by several locals and an American woman, Marcia MacDonald, to properly rebuild and expand the nunnery. Since the earthquake, the project took a stronger emphasis and they are finalizing the plans to rebuild the nuns living accommodations and to rebuild the prayer and meditation room. Marcia and the local team have been putting together a bigger vision in collaboration with the nuns to eventually turn their center into a more of a meditation retreat. The beautiful energy and spectacular surroundings of this nunnery in Debuche was something that surprised me, and envisioning a nun meditation center would only add to the unique and powerful experience for anyone on a trek. By April (and with the right support) at least the living facilities and main prayer hall will be ready, so I’m very much looking forward to talking more with Marcia once I’m back in the US. I’m already envisioning one of the Anis (nuns) joining us to do a powerful Puja ceremony for next April.
In addition, Mingna was also kind enough to pick up the heavy winter package for the nuns and he told me that it’d make into the nunnery by mid next week. I hope the nuns are pleased with the maroon color selection of goods.
By noon, Shailee, Maya and I were on our way to Tashi’s office to sign the 2016 Everest expedition contract. I was trying to remain pretty cool and collected, but internally I was sweating bullets. This is the closest I’ve ever come committing to climb Everest and it was about to be formalized. My guide, Mima Gombu, whom I met on Saturday, is a pretty solid guy and after signing the contract I headed over his shop to pick up the oxygen equipment I would be using.
Tashi’s office is full of famous pictures and he has an illustrious family heritage with Sagarmatha (Everest). He is the grandson of Tenzing Norway, who was one of the first two Everest submitters. He was the Sherpa mountaineer who took Sir Edmund Hillary, so Tashi is not shy at all about expressing his views on people who want to climb Everest. When I first met him about a month ago, he scolded me for my lack of knowing the history of Everest. Thanks to Amazon.com, that history is slowly coming through.
Tashi is also a big entrepreneur in Nepal and is currently developing coffee from the Sindhupalchok district as a way to support the economy there. He has a couple of schools that survived the earthquake and is currently working with Maya and Shailee to rebuild another one. As we were going over the Everest contract, he served us coffee to celebrate the event, and for those who know me, I haven’t had a cup in 15 years. Today certainly wasn’t a day to turn one down, so I proceeded to taste his very yummy coffee.
The one little change I encounter while doing the paperwork – I decided to climb Everest as a Peruvian instead of American, so I will need to provide my Peruvian passport which I had not brought. I started this whole journey 10 years ago as a Peruvian and it’ll be nice to be back and climb Everest as a Peruvian. Tashi was kind enough to lend me his down suit which I can bring to the Vinson expedition and if it works well, then I can use it for Everest.
We were done with all formalities by 3:00pm and then headed into Thamel (the trekking shopping capital in Nepal) for oxygen and Everest equipment checklist at Nima’s store. I wasn’t aware that Nima comes from a family of Everest sherpas and all 7 brothers have summited Everest. They hold the Guiness Book of Record for this unique feat. While at the store, his brother Mingma showed up. Mingma has summited 19 times, Nima 18 – so between the two brothers they have 37 summits of Mt. Everest – beyond impressive.
We got back to the hotel by 5:00pm and finally Shailee, Maya and I sat to finalize the trip. This has truly been such a magical journey and such an important learning experience for all of us. When I first met the Everest Women mountaineers in November of 2015, they told me their dream was to start the first female guiding company with a strong empowerment purpose. As I told them about my vision with working with survivors, I remember proposing to them that I’d be their first client with our Courageous Girls – and here we were, wrapping up such powerful experience.
We penciled in dates for Spring 2016, talked about the things we’d improve and how many people we would want to bring. We’ll give each other a couple of weeks break and then restart the conversation. Shailee will be in the US by January 2016 and hopefully we’ll have a chance to meet each other either in Colorado or on the West Coast. More details on the Spring 2016 expeditions to come soon!
Time flew and before I knew it was time for me to head to the airport. My dear friend Tshering Lama offered to give me a ride and so Maya and Tshering kindly took me the airport. Right before entering the check-in gates, Maya surprised me with one more blessing scarf. Truly special. A journey that humbly started in October 2005 had finally seen its first big dream met. As we said goodbyes, my heart had a huge big smile, knowing that in less than four months I’d be making my return back to this beautiful and magical country. For now, back to my other home and to the adventures that are awaiting for me there.
Treat for the night: I got upgraded on all my return flights up to SF! A big lucky me!