I have now been in the Khumbu for 6 weeks and I felt I should share some of my experiences and admiration for the people who live here in this remote, rugged, high altitude, region of the world.
This is no easy life! It’s cold, damp, dirty, thin aired, void of most modern amenities, while being beautiful, amazing, and breathe taking (pun intended.) The locals live hard, physical lives and they do it with a smile on their face and generosity in their hearts.
Our western society, has become so pampered and entitled, I believe most could not or would not survive in any of the villages up here. Most homes do not have indoor plumbing (running water or toilets), full time electricity (lights, furnace, outlets.) The homes are heated by a cast iron stove that burns yak dung and that’s only in the center of the kitchen. The bathrooms are out houses, with out toilets, just a hole to squat over. These are not for the faint of heart!
Being in such a remote area, all goods are carried up from Lukla or The Valley floor. The locals use yaks and mules to move a lot of the good, but the rest they carry on their backs. (Helicopters are used but mostly just for the tourist trade.) They are a very strong group of people and I have seen them carry as much as 100 lbs on their backs. This with out the altitude is impressive, but at heights of 11,000 to 17,000 feet it’s mind blowing. They really are super human.
Outside of tourism, the remaining labor I see is in small gardens tending crops of potato’s and a few other veggies that grow in these conditions. The rest seem to work construction, where they mostly work with the granite boulders all around them. They chip away at the rocks, cutting them it to workable shapes for roads (more like paths actually,) stairs, and buildings. I witnessed workers using small mallets to crush rock the size of a grapefruit in to pebbles in order to make gravel for concrete.
I am blow away, how efficient they are with just small hand tools. Since I own a construction company, I can appreciate the amount of labor it takes for them to just create one wheelbarrow of cement. And yet they go about there day with grace, dignity, and pride. Not one has put their hand out as we pass by, nor uttered a negative remark. They merely greeted us with a smile and the word Namaste!
I feel very grateful to be able to experience this adventure and even more so to be in the presence of these amazing people. I was fortunate to be raised by two parents that loved to travel and who saw the value in the education you receive on these trips. I urge everyone to travel outside your comfort zones, open your eyes, hearts, and minds, as every culture has something new to teach you!