26 Mar 2009: Today was another day of contrast and juxtaposition...

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Today was another day of contrast and juxtaposition. After arriving yesterday in a light rain and midst shrouding the village of Namche Bazaar, the morning arrived clear with high clouds and lower valley fog. Breaking the rules we opened our window to let the cool air of the morning in and gaze at the sheer slopes surrounding this hamlet etched into the mountain side. From the comfort of our sleeping bags and thick blankets my roommate and I pondered the effectiveness of starting morning with a meditative practice as a way of clearing one’s mind and preparing oneself for the day. From the refrain of “we live in a beautiful world” from Coldplay’s “Don’t Panic” on my iPod, I heard a low and prolonged “ohm” chant from close by. Pulling out my earphones I was surprised to realize it was coming from my roommate. Surprised due to the fact that he is one of the most devoted people I know to a western religion common to our home area.
A knock on our door soon brought morning tea and wash water to our room in the middle of the Himalaya. A breakfast of fried eggs, home fries and toast rounded otherwise western breakfast in a sun room with a spectacular view of sheer snow and ice covered mountains and a sleepy mountain community. All that to the background sounds of languages from throughout the world. A short morning stroll revealed apple strudel, chocolate danishes and cappuccinos all at the local internet café where they watch the English Premier League every weekend.
In Katmandu we had electricity for only six hours a day, hot water periodically and internet as a luxury. At the top of the world we have all the solar power and domestic hot water that a person could envy and emailing and checking the news and weather back home is daily distraction. Our morning walk with Wongchu to the local museums to the summiteers and Sherpas of Everest was an education to the history of the West and East conquering the local people’s most sacred mountain, named Chomolungma. I was amazed to learn, as well, that much of the Sherpa culture is a menagerie of Buddhist beliefs couple with the more ancient mountain traditions of the Sherpa culture.

After lunch another short trip yielded chocolate cake and brewed coffee to the sound of classic rock ballads from the Eagles, Bad Company and Dire Staits “I Want My MTV!” Another stroll in the afternoon brought an end to light snow and the peaks of the surrounding area peaking out at us. A truly wonderful sampling of more to come.

Back at our tea house we were even amazed to learn the doctors had a chance encounter with a medical team from Iran. Without preconditions, both parties agreed they differed with their respective governments and found each other enjoyable companions.

This post submitted by E. Schauster, Driggs, ID, USA.