Not a Bathroom in Sight

by Jackson Duckworth / Sep 24, 2013 /
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Nepal. The land of Everest. Mountains stretch in every direction. Endless clear, cold sky. This is the land where my family and I went trekking for a month.

 

Now the moment I arrived in this land, I sensed danger in my 10-year-old heart. We boarded a small, rickety plane in Kathmandu—the capital of Nepal—and flew into Lukla, a small town at the base of our trek. It was a beautiful day, with the fog melting before the brilliant sun. It was just clear enough to see the massive pile of plane wreckage at the end of the super short runway.

 

So we landed safely—a great relief—and almost immediately we began our trek. Now, I'd done my fair share of hiking before, but this was brutal. For a while we hiked up a steep incline, until we reached a small village called Phakding. There we stopped for lunch. I'm not sure quite what it was—most likely some bad water—but after eating a large bowl full of curry, I had to sit on the toilet for almost half an hour.

 

To be honest, I felt awful, but we continued on to Monjo, our first night's destination. By that point, I had thrown up twice, and I really had to go to the bathroom. Another half hour long bathroom trip awaited me and once I finished in there, I went straight to bed.

 

The next day, thinking the sickness was over, we decided to continue on to our next destination, Namche. But about halfway through the day, I realized that the sickness had not quite run its toll. It came back twice as hard, and I realized I really needed a bathroom. But we were in the middle of a long stretch of trail! Where was I supposed to find a bathroom?

 

We didn't think there were any towns between Monjo and Namche, let alone any bathrooms. So we pushed on. Along the way, I gained a massive headache from the altitude. I was quite a wreck, as you can imagine.

 

But then we spotted something among the trees. It was a house! Or, as we found out as we neared it, a lodge. We rushed inside, immediately asking for a bathroom. The Nepali folks were nice, but only to a certain extent.

 

“You use bathroom if you stay here for one night,” they said, smiling cheerfully.

 

Now we only had a certain amount of time to trek before we had to return to Kathmandu, so we could not afford to stay here for even a night. We had to push on to Namche. Not to mention their prices were insanely high. Now I was hopping around, desperately trying to hold in the impending doom while my parents argued with the lodge owners.

 

Eventually the lodge owners took notice of my incessant hopping, and they finally decided to let me use their bathroom. They led us to the back of the lodge where a small squat toilet sat.

 

Now, I'd never had to squat to use the bathroom before, let alone while feeling awful. But eventually I just gritted down and let the Great Monster loose. When I finished, I felt much better. We thanked the owners of the lodge and moved on.

 

Not long after that, however, the sickness returned at what was now the worst point possible. On our last stretch to Namche, the hike became incredibly steep. It was as we hiked this steep incline, and gained altitude, that the headache came back and the stomachache quickly followed.

 

Soon, I had to use a bathroom as desperately as before, and I could not bring myself to move a step further. I sat down and waited to die, holding my head in my hands. I could feel the cold, icy hands of death grabbing me and—I was suddenly lifted into the air. My dad had picked me up, and we continued along the trail. I'm glad I was younger and lighter back then, and wasn't nearly as tall as I am now, for he was able to—with some difficulty—carry me up the steep incline. Then, at last, we caught view of Namche.

 

Namche, Nepal

Namche, Nepal

 

It was truly a beautiful sight and I found the strength again to walk, rushing as fast as my legs could carry me into Namche. After climbing even more steep rocky steps, we found a lodge at around 5pm.  After check-in, I immediately crashed headlong into bed.

 

We stayed an extra day in Namche and as the second day wore out, I began to feel better. I figured I was beginning to get used to the altitude. We continued to trek on to our next stop Khumjung, which would turn out to be one of my favorite places in the world.

 

Me standing outside of Khumjung doing a karate pose

Me standing outside of Khumjung doing a karate pose

 

As we neared Khumjung, all my worries vanished. We descended through a valley heavily laden with thick groves of Japanese flowers, the only sounds being the slight pat of our boots against the dirt and the chirping of birds. The hum of bees floated on the wind, and blue sky stretched above us as far as the eye could see. Then, as we emerged from the valley and onto a field, we caught our first glimpse of Khumjung, a beautiful village of green-roofed houses. And towering above it, still far in the distance, was the tallest mountain in the world—Everest.

 

I was now surrounded by my mountain paradise, where beautiful white stupas sat amidst fields of flowers, the chill air flowing from the snow-capped mountains far above. The journey was worth the rickety plane ride, my sickness, and the long, difficult hike. Even the bathroom trips.
 

 

 

 

 

Jackson Duckworth is a member of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program

 

All photos courtesy and copyright Jackson Duckworth