On October 11, 2014 we were scheduled to fly to Lukla. Now, it is only proper to tell you about the airport in Kathmandu. The airport is not an airport as we know an airport to be in America. The airport is a large cinderblock building with three “check in desks,” a weight station, a bathroom, a waiting room and a small cafe upstairs. There are a million things going on and no structure. No lines. No organization. No specific desks for airlines. The way it works is that everyone that wants to fly that day gets there early in the morning, around 6am. It is a mad dash for the desks and whoever gets there first gets help and everyone else jockeys to be next. Thank the lord our guides and sherpas were responsible for doing this. Our job was to sit with the luggage and wait. Once you get your turn at the desk the attendant provides you with boarding tickets. These tickets do not specify a time or flight number. Not a gate number. Nothing. Well, almost nothing. A stamp with todays date and in pen a plane number – ours was AKK.
Once you get your tickets your proceed to bring your luggage to the weight station. You must not exceed the weight limit, although I have no clue what it is. It isn’t posted anywhere. They instruct you to take out anything heavy and hold your water bottles as if that weight doesn’t count. Once you pass the weight test, you simply put those items back in your luggage and it is taken from you. Why they weigh your luggage at all seems foolish since it is intentionally inaccurate.
Anyways, once you successfully have your boarding ticket and your luggage is weighed you then proceed through the metal detectors – whether or not you set them off you then get a pat down and proceed to the waiting room. Needless to say, security there is next to nothing. The waiting room is exactly that. As I mentioned, your boarding ticket doesn’t have anything specific on it except a plane number. You wait, and wait, and wait until they call your plane number over the load speaker. You could be waiting for 20 minutes, or until 4pm when the last flight takes off or any time in between. Once your plane is called, it is a mad dash to the door where you board the bus that takes you to your 15-17 seat plane. Everyone wants to be the first on the bus because you can strategically stand next to the door. If you are one of the first people to board the plane you get a seat on the left side – this gives you the best view of the himalayan range as you fly to Lukla. It’s kind of a game. One you don’t want to lose.
So, on October 11, 2014 we waited around until 2pm before our plane number was called – AKK. A mad dash to the door, only stopping quickly to look back to make sure we had everyone and wa-la we won! First people on the bus, sitting right next to the door. No way were we not getting a seat on the left side of the plane. We boarded the plane and the flight attendant greeted us with the customary “namaste.” Once we were seated, she walked down the aisle – crunched over because the plane isn’t tall enough to stand up tall – with mints and cotton balls to drown out the sound of the engines.
At this point, its hard not to get excited! We were on our way.
After approximately 40 minutes of flying, we suddenly pulled a sharp left hand turn heading directly toward a mountain. Soon after, the flight attendant came by again – still hunched over – to inform us that the runway at Lukla was too wet to land – we were going back to Kathmandu. My knee jerk reaction was, “Are you serious!? They didn’t know this before we left?!” Then again I thought to myself, better safe than sorry!
Attempt number one to fly to Lukla was a failure. We were to try again the next day.
The next morning we got up extremely early hell bent on getting on the first flight to Lukla. Again, we had to go through the same check in process as the day before. This time, it wouldn’t go so smooth…this is where the trip plan got flipped, turned upside down.
As our guides were getting our flights and we sat and watched the luggage, Hannah left to go to the restroom. A few minutes went by and she didn’t return. Corey started to get worried and wondered if everything was ok. It wasn’t. Deven, our guide, came to get Corey, “Corey, come with me, Hannah cut her leg.” Off they went. A few minutes later, Deven came to get Chelsea and I, “Grab all of the stuff, we need to go to the hospital.” The severity of this ‘cut’ was written all over his face. We grabbed our bags and bypassed security on our way to the VIP room. The VIP room isn’t anything special. I suppose it had a door and that is special for the airport in Kathmandu. Even the bathrooms didn’t have doors. Otherwise, it was just a room. Hannah was laying on a table with her leg being help up as high as it would go. It was wrapped in gauze and there was dried blood everywhere. The ambulance showed up and all 5 of us piled into the ambulance. We were off to the hospital.
Hannah was brought in to emergency surgery to reattach the muscles in her lower leg and the nerves going to her foot. All went well. At least that is what they told us but who knows? We were in Nepal and ‘well’ there doesn’t necessarily mean ‘well’ here. As it turns out, she will make a full recovery but it will take some time. It was clear that Corey and Hannah’s trip was done.
While we waited at the hospital, Chelsea and I made the decision that we were going to continue on with the trip since there wasn’t much we could do for Hannah if we went home. We chatted with Deven about the possibilities. We decided to cancel the climbing itinerary and keep this trip strictly as a trekking experience. Since Chelsea was there to experience and explore the culture and spirituality, keeping to a trekking itinerary would allow us more time to do so. We had 20 days to explore the Khumbu Valley and Everest region and no set itinerary. This was going to be awesome! There were only 2 of us left. We joked about how we were going to be good friends or absolutely hate each other by the end of the 20 days and understood that it probably wasn’t realistic to expect anything in between. I am happy to report we are good friends!
Stay tuned for the next part of our adventure…20 days spent trekking in Nepal!
In the interim, check out our photo album on Facebook and feel free to ‘like us’ too!