We had hardly set foot at Lukla than we had already been baptised! Considering our French Christian names too complicated to pronounce, we were named according to Sherpa tradition, that is according to our day of birth. Since both of us were born on a Thursday, we are now Purba for Aurélien and Purbi for me… which actually provokes a smile from locals we meet.
The last few days have been spent at a slow pace, as snow and cold invited themselves well and truly to the valley. Both school and worksite have closed as it is really not so easy to work without electricity! For us, it was the ideal occasion to spend more time at the lodge with our hosts. I had promised to tell you about them, so it is with pleasure that I make their presentations.
The Hilltop View Lodge has really been well named! Located beside the route to Everest, it offers an amazing view from the common room, with its massive window, and welcomes each passer-by with a prayer wheel (with a bell!) that everyone activates as a sign of “good luck”. Unfortunately we haven’t met many trekkers who stop overnight. The high season has not really started and the lodge is a little bit hampered by its location : too close to Lukla at the start of the hike, too far from the airport for the last day of the trek.
Too bad for everyone else, we are delighted every morning with our magnificent surroundings! Welcomed by a whole family, we are gradually getting to know them and to receive their generosity and way of taking care of us…and how!
Tendi and Pudgi have been married for a long time and devotedly look after the lodge. Tendi is a real mountain guide, silent and faithful. He has climbed a good number of peaks, including Annapurna and Mont Blanc. Everest ? He almost made it! He was a member of the Italian expedition “Everest 80”, first expedition to include Sherpas (as climbers and not just as porters) and foreigners. The group had unfortunately to give up only 88m from the summit. Every morning, he chants Buddhist prayers, lights a fire and prepares the offerings. His simplicity and fervour touch me.
Pudgi is the grandmother of the house and, like all good grandmothers, always checks whether we have enough to eat, if we are cold or if we need something. As her English is not very good – as is the case for my Nepalese, we understand each other with gestures and it is often very amusing!
Tendi and Pudgi have two daughters: Daianji and Kunga. Daianji works for Action for Nepal and travels between the various villages to visit the schools. Kunga also looks after the lodge. She is married to Sonam who is head of the worksite at the school reconstruction project. Kunga is 26 years old and speaks English well; she often explains the country’s traditions and likes cooking our favourite lunch: tsampa, a sort of traditional Sherpa mash, full of proteins.
There is also Dolma, Pudgi’s niece, who studies at Chaurikharka. She grew up in Taiwan, her mother’s birthplace, and is here to learn Nepalese. In fact, she takes extra classes after school, she is quite determined. Yesterday, we improvised a huge snowball fight, which was terrific!
To assist the organisation of everyday life, two young girls: Angeli and Renouka, work here. They are very shy, but they are gradually opening up and I have no doubt that we will soon be able to play a game of Yatzi together!
And there is Palzoum! She is the daughter of Kunga and Sonam. Even at her young age of two, she acts like a gold thread that links everyone, young and old, Nepalese or not, temporary lodgers or resident members, she provides a ray of sunshine and makes us smile – even when we are freezing!
The teacher I replaced has returned and we now work together in the morning, while in the afternoon I give a hand on the worksite with Aurélien.
In a few days, it will be time to put on our hiking boots and set off to discover the Khumbu Valley. We’ll be going up to passes at 5,500m – let’s hope we will stand the altitude! And as of the end of the month, I shall be back to our mountains in the Valais, whilst Aurélien will continue to help here for another few weeks.
Many thanks for following us in our adventures; we pursue the work with Luklass – it is a great mission!