7:00 a.m. We, that is––the staff–– load the equipage to the top of Toyota Land Cruiser. In addition to Karma [our Sherpa guide] we have a driver and two porters. None of these people have names; we must be on a need-to-know basis (a vestige of the caste system?).
We begin winding our way on nameless roads, stopping for gas coupons, then gas, and then we’re out of the city on a paved road. Our driver is good, but it’s still scary between the other manic drivers and steep roadsides. We only see one truck overturned on the road, its rice bag cargo stacked alongside like sandbags against a flood.
We stop to stretch our legs, the stop dragging on until we suspect that the driver has some unstated personal business in the village. Other trekkers are stopped here as well. A long fruit and vegetable stand lines the road, its roof of blue plastic tarps held in place by logs.
In Beshihar we stop again for lunch this time and again the driver disappears , this time we laterare told there is some mechanical-related problem that he is working on. In Beshihar the trekkers are walking through town and it sinks in that the road we are driving on is the actual Annapurna Circuit for trekkers (here navigable by vehicle). Not very appealing for walking, it’s highly–rutted with lots of water.
From Beshihar the road is a rocky roller coaster ride and I doubt we get above ten miles per hour very often. Sleep is impossible. (Note: I have been asleep for much of the seven-hour drive up to this point).
Lots of domestic animals on the road. Women carrying gargantuan stacks of greenery (what is it?) much larger than their small thin bodies. The little teahouses begin to appear regularly & I can see now the casualness of the planning borne out: here, or there, no difference.
By the time I get to Syange I am done—between the car-sickness (inevitable) and the bug in my stomach, (not to mention the mélange of drugs ingested to combat both), I go straight to sleep (5:30 p.m.?).
In the dining room of the teahouse waiting for Karma to arrange for the rooms. A team of porters is watching a soccer match on television in rapt silence. I don’t remember this until the next morning when I am trying to sort dream from reality.
Karma awakens me (when?) to look at my down jacket to assess whether it will keep me warm at 6,000 meters. I think he says it will be insufficient but I insist it will be fine.
John is in and out of the room, his headlamp moving around the room like night burglar or underwater explorer.
My dreams are vivid and somewhat Macomb-based, though I couldn’t say what about them had anything to do with Macomb [a town in the Midwest I moved away from four years prior]. They included: a large party uncomfortably over-crowded with people, being told we won a million dollars and then having it not be true. Finally, a conversation with my father [passed away six months prior] in which he inquires whether I have bargained hard enough for my salary in a job interviewer- (it is unclear whether this is anew job or some past job).
All night the river rushes through my dreams and in the morning I see that our tea house is perched over the it and we are staying at the New Waterfall Teahouse, Syange, Room 114.
The trekkers have been much-dampened, presumably today, and their shoes sit out in from of the rooms, tongues open to the air, shirts hanging from balconies to dry.