So with the rocks in my head adjusted, we finished breakfast and started the 2 hours down to the river valley below. That of course meant no horse. At first it was pretty crunchy but after a bit my leg warmed up, the Advil kicked in, and I started to make decent time. In fact, I started feeling so good that the idea of ABC started to not seem like such a stupid idea. After the river it was back on Kalu. This time Deepak said he trusted me enough and so I rode alone up the steps. It was a nice change being in charge of Super-Pony, I was a bit less of a passenger and was actually doing something.
|Scars in the earth|
"Yes, there was house there. Now, noone can live."
"Did anyone die during the slide?"
"Yes, few people died."
And that was that. The villagers just kept farming right next to where their neighbors had plunged a mile to their death. I looked again at the rice terraces, stretching up from the river valley almost to the top of the cliffs. The amount of water needed to grow the corn, rice, and potatos must surely soften the soil. Dipu agreed. But how else could they live? They had to eat.
The trail abruptly went upward, and I noticed that the trail also went straight but was blocked off. Dipu noted that a landslide had recently occured and now we had to go up and over. The path narrowed to a few feet in places, where atop Kalu I nervously watched the horse tiptoe on the edge of a blind precipice. It had to be a thousand feet high. On the way back down I saw it. We had indeed been walking above an overhang, the side of the mountain had fallen away. At the top, comically perched like a weight, stood a new guest house to service the updated route. I saw certain doom waiting to happen, the Nepalese saw business opportunity.
The afternoon clouds and rain were starting to set in when we reached Chhongrom, just in time. A large pack of Korean tourists were having a big boisterous lunch, drinking Korean whiskey and eating Korean food. The 15 of them had brought along 25 porters, their own cook, their own food, and 450 bottles of Korean beer. It was the Nepalese equivalent of the Japanese tour bus. It was kind of fun seeing the crowd partying, but when they started to pack up I felt relief. The whole point of trekking Nepal was to challenge yourself in the middle of the most spectacular scenery on the planet, and maybe find a little spirituality in the process. So to see a herd of Koreans, long-lenses glued on to each and every one, romping through like they were on a beach holiday was not a pleasant sight. As their leader herded them up and out, the rain turned into a downpour and hail started falling. But the Koreans were not deterred, they had booked each stop on their route months in advance and had to keep their appointments at all costs, hail or no hail. As they trooped off and started to get pelted, Dipu and I laughed and happily waved goodbye.