The guide books authoritatively told us that we would see stunning views of the mountains as we walked towards Annapurna. What we actually saw was mist. Every now and then the sun would burn some of the mist off and bits of sky could be seen. At one stage it looked really hopeful. The mist separated and I could see something white appearing high in the sky. In my enthusiasm I heard myself say “Look- a mountain”. Surya looked up, gave the sort of smile he must keep in reserve for such moments and said “No, its a cloud”.
As we walked on the mist and mountains continued tease. We would occasionally ask “Is that a mountain” Surya would always reply “No its a cloud”.
There was still lots to look at and lots to think about. It felt to me like we were walking through a medieval landscape that had recently had electricity and mobile phones added. I am sure there were some combustion engines somewhere but I could not hear them. Washing was done in cold water that had been diverted from the streams. Sanitation is basic (actually very basic) but the Tea House’s are colourful and the people welcoming. How they manage to prepare so many different meals in such basic conditions is beyond me.
At the end of the day, after we had eaten, we sat outside and watched the light fade. Through the grey mist you could see a solitary cloud change colour as the setting sun lit it up. ” I reversed the joke and said ” Surya, is that a cloud?”. Surya gave me that smile again and said “No that is a mountain” No sooner had he said it than the mist took the mountain back.
The mist has remained but we have made up most of the time we lost travelling to Pokhara. This is a relief as I would hate to find that we could not stay at base camp because we had run out of time. During the day we discovered that Surya, Ram and Mantare are old friends and all come from the same village. They all stay in Kathmandu during the trekking season and then go back home to help with the farming when there is no trekking. Surya said that when they go home they get a lift to the end of the road. It is then 3 days walk to their village. Mantare is only 18 (although he looks older) and it is only his second trek. This must all be as strange for him as it is for me.
After some fairly hairy moments involving long swing bridges and some exposed walking we arrived at Chomrong where we spent the night. Chomrong is famed for its view. I am sure it is a stunning view. We saw the now familiar mist. On the plus side we struck gold with the Tea Lodge. It is called Chomrong Village and we have a room with a double bed and an on suite shower and WC. On such small things the world turns; pure bliss.