Jebbe


In March of 2003, my girlfriend, Amy, and I trekked the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal. Circling for 210 kilometers (130 miles) around the entire Annapurna range—which contains six peaks over seven kilometers (23,000 feet)—the Annapurna Circuit also traverses the world’s highest crossable pass, Thorung La, at five and one-half kilometers (18,000 feet).

One of the many dilemmas facing Annapurna trekkers is whether or not to hire local males as porters. Amy and I had decided to do so, figuring that it would be good to pump Rupees into Nepal’s economy. The going rate for a young male porter was 140 Rupees (2.8 dollars) per day.

On Monday, March tenth, we began our adventure, catching a 0700 bus from a hotel in Kathmandu to the beginning of the circuit in Besi Sahar. There, we hired two teenaged boys named Rosen and Junga as porters. Well, needless to say, trekking the Annapurna Circuit is not the easiest task in the world, as was demonstrated a short four days later. After arriving into Chamje at 1545 on the fourteenth, Rosen and Junga abandoned us!

Amy and I frantically scrounged around town and were eventually able to hire two men in their twenties—Jebbe and Sing—to be our porters. However, they demanded 200 Rupees (4 dollars) per day.

From there, our trek continued without a hitch to March twenty-first, when Amy and I triumphantly crossed over Thorung La. We did the killer descent down into Mucktinath and got a room at the Mona Lisa hotel.

That night, intending to wear our packs for the rest of the trek, Amy and I settled up with Jebbe and Sing, to include giving each of them a 400 Rupees (8 dollar) tip.

However, the next morning, Jebbe found us at breakfast and demanded more money. We promptly refused. In broken English, Jebbe warned us of “danger” and stormed away.

On Sunday, March twenty-third, Amy and I stepped off at 0945 to arrive into Marpha at 1700. We got a room at a local guest house and ate dinner with other trekkers that we had met along the way.

Amy and I decided to take a rest day on Monday, and we were blown away to run into Jebbe at our lunch stop. What were the chances? Or was he following us?

The next day, Amy and I stepped off at 0945 again for the hike to Larjung. As we trooped into a headwind, we were now enjoying the company of many like trekkers from other countries. Thus, we didn’t even notice that a lone figure began to lag behind the group of trekkers in front of us. Eventually, he completely departed that group, dragging his heels to finally arrive just in front of us.

Suddenly—the man picked up a long stick and spun about. It was Jebbe! Screaming in his native tongue, he pointed at Amy and then cocked the stick back like a baseball bat.

Immediately, I stepped in front of Amy, as did the other male trekkers in our group.

Jebbe dropped the stick and retreated, still screaming at the top of his lungs.

Our group remained steadfast in front of Amy, and Jebbe continued backing away—all the while throwing rocks at us.

The remainder of our trek was uneventful, and we never saw Jebbe again.

On Saturday, March twenty-ninth, Amy and I arrived into Pokhara and got a room at the Marigold Hotel. Two days later, we took a taxi back to the original bus park in Kathmandu. We had made it!

Jeeesh! What do I get if I hire a guide?



J Scanlan

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