In the last few days of hiking, on October 23 I witnessed a body being pulled out of the water. Initially a mountain guide said it was someone who’s luggage went over the side and men were trying to retrieve it. I knew it wasn’t accurate given the scene. Several men at the base of the rocks and waterline. Luggage is colorful and floats fast down the rapids. I was on the other side of the “Big old river”. I looked more closely and under a few feet of surface water, was a man’s arms flailing yet stationary from trunk down. I gasped and cried as the story changed. I immediately asked “Nepalese?” And I’ve should have known better. The story changed to the thought of suicide to what is the most likely scenario. A hiker “without guide”, emphatically expressed by my guide, took his own route and fell. My travel wife did not have the morbid curiosity that seemed to be taking over as more cars and hikers gathered on both sides of the rapids with people asking “What happened?”. I wanted to talk to someone but no takers. It might be a morose thought but I choose to see his lifeless body trapped by a rock as a blessing. His body could be retrieved in order for a proper response by next of kin. I prayed and cried a little more than what was comfortable since I don’t know who he is. I frantically checked blotters and social media when access was available but no answer no mention of a man wearing bright yellow pants with black accessories. He appeared to be late 20’s to mid 30’s. Lean, fair skin with facial hair beard and dark short hair. Futile attempts to resuscitate him may have caused more sadness for some. And all I can do is pray and one day I will know what happened. Some may find record not suitable it ends in 30 seconds.
“I have no business hiking” My inner voice said. It hurt to stretch and I moaned a lot. I saw helicopters above and thoughts of hitching a ride out sounded so enticing. Or maybe ride down on a horse or donkey but I kept telling myself to just put one foot in front of the other. 10 hours later I was down My motives are clear. I often want to see who I am and what am I made of. I am the reluctant hiker and I am made of sheer determination and will power….if only for a moment. Zaijian
I thought of Sir Edmond Hilary as I was huffing and puffing on a trek I had no business being on. May 29 1953 this man from New Zealand scaled Mount Everest. Such a feat granted him knighthood from the Queen. The Sherpa Tenging Norge was really the hero. I am completely exhausted never have I seen so many rocks and road apples. The French and Germans are giving me tips on how to breathe. “use your diaphragm” I wanna tell them y’all have the Alps and Pyrennes mountains. I’ve decided I’m the reluctant hiker and curse under my breath “why why? As I lie on bed of rocks ( feels like it) I feel my thigh and it’s rock hard and not because of muscle development it’s like lock jaw of the loins. It hurts to stretch. Somehow I must of romanced the hell out of this trip. And now I have a touch altitude sickness. Chest pain which feels like spasms and a gas bubble. The things you do for love. Cynthia…bite me. Zaijian.
My travel wife says “you pick”. Places on list were Morrocco and Eastern Europe. I chose Nepal from an idea that this place is magical. I will act as a traveler and conduct myself accordingly. I understand the world is becoming saturated with tourists and the locals may not state how they really feel about this commerce. So I will try not to be selfie absorbed. I was fine yesterday until an acquaintance told me that the trek is substantial and bridges with foot boards reveal crevasses with a 200 feet drop. “WHAT?”. Now it’s all I am thinking about. Called my bank and no currency exchange for Nepal rhupees. Videos on YouTube are couple years old. Here we go again. I hope I am physically prepared. Diamox for altitude sickness and water purification tabs. 26 days of trekking which is different from hiking I tell myself. I call for reassuring pep talk and she says ” we can back out” and all of a sudden I feel a warm flush like sensation and respond to her. “No we are doing this”. Again I am humbled by what lies ahead. Zaijian.
By Lucile de Godoy
Essays on Creative Nonfiction
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