What's for breakfast


In my grogginess, I rolled over and mumbled “Good morning, Amy.”
Her reply was a barely audible “Good morning, John.”
But then we looked at each other and both broke out in uncontrollable laughter. “HAHAHAHAHA!”
“You’re eyelids are swollen,” Amy exclaimed.
“So are yours,” I replied.
We sat up in bed, not even mentioning the fact that we could see our breath.
“Eeeeewww! Amy, look at your fingers,” I added. “They’re swollen too.”
With wide eyes and open mouth, Amy examined the fattened fingers on both of her hands. “It must be because of the altitude,” she proffered.
“Yeah, I guess so,” I returned. “My fingers are also swollen.”
We sat there in the cold silence of our room at the Yak Hotel in Manang, Nepal.
“Happy Saint Patrick’s Day,” I said with a smile.
Amy returned the smile and said “Same back at ya.”
“We might as well get up,” I suggested. “We’re burnin’ daylight.”
“Good call.”
Amy and I rolled out of our toasty bed on opposite sides—simultaneously noting that our feet were swollen too.
While scurrying to get dressed, Amy asked “What do you feel like for breakfast?”
I replied “How about some steak-n-eggs?”
Amy chuckled, adding “Sorry, but something tells me that the only thing on the menu is oat porridge and Tibetan bread.”
I sighed, and my exhalation condensed in the room’s frigid air. During March in Nepal, you never really got warm—you just obtained varying levels of cold.
Amy and I had hiked into Manang at 2:30 pm yesterday afternoon. As a fresh snow began to fall, we had gotten a room at the Yak Hotel and then attended a lecture on altitude sickness given by volunteer British doctors. It was highly recommended that Himalayan trekkers see this presentation before pressing onward out of Manang, so Amy and I had played it safe. After dinner, we took a “shower” using Baby Wipes and then crawled into bed.
Prior to that, yesterday had started with a breakfast of oat porridge and Tibetan bread—for the millionth time—in The New Tibetan Hotel of Lower Pisang, and then the day continued with an 8:30 step-off. It had been a rough few days. During the forty-eight hours prior to arriving into Lower Pisang, our Porters had abandoned us, we had broken two trekking poles, and I had developed a case of diarrhea.
Today would be a rest day on Nepal’s one hundred and twenty mile Annapurna Circuit. Looping around the entire Annapurna massif—which contains six major peaks over 23,620 feet—the Annapurna Circuit also traverses the world’s highest passable pass, the Thorung La, at close to eighteen thousand feet. Today’s agenda included walking around Manang, doing an acclimatization hike to see a monastery, and then spending another night in the Yak Hotel.
Upon leaving Manang, the next few days consisted of more oat porridge and Tibetan bread, continuing to climb with swollen eyes and puffy hands, skittering across the face of a potential avalanche area, headaches due to the altitude, and further showers with Baby Wipes.
However, four days after Manang, on Friday, March 21, 2003, Amy and I crossed over Thorung La and began the killer descent down the backside. On Monday, March 31, we triumphantly returned to Kathmandu, where we got a room at the Kathmandu Guest house and engulfed a pizza at the Roadhouse Café. I took the best shower that I had taken in three weeks.
Breakfast the next morning consisted of chocolate pastries at the Pumpernickel Cafe—not oat porridge and Tibetan bread.

J Scanlan

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