Uphill, Both Ways

      Its been creeping up on me for a long time.   I finally have to acknowledge something that my children have known about me for awhile.  Like my father before me, I’ve begun whining about How Much Things Have Changed.  Sure, I never walked five miles to school, uphill both ways, in 40 below weather with a lunch bucket frozen to my hand.  Dad, you win that one.  But!  Brace yourself for this, and Clarence, thanks for bursting my bubble. I just found out that there are hotels in the Himalayas on the way to Mount Everest.  Hotels!!  Nothing else could signal so well the collapse of the world as I knew it.  Next thing you know, people will be driving around the golf course in cars.  Wait.  They do that already.  But back to the Himalayas.

     Way, way back, in 1979 to be exact, Clarence and I were hiking to the Everest Base Camp.  Those of you who know me well will understand that this was not my idea.  On the other hand, being only twenty-four at the time, I was eager to take part in it.  I mourn that change as well.  But anyway.  We walked about 250 miles over 24 days.  That’s two hundred and fifty miles! It was mostly uphill!  There were no hotels, per se.  Instead, we stayed with the Nepalese people in their homes.  While this was a rich cultural experience that I in no way regret, it probably explains my tendency for intermittent coughing.  The people built huge fires in their small huts, and at night they closed all the windows and doors.  There were no chimneys.  So the smoke just built up until you couldn’t even see the person lying next to you.  On the other hand, it helped hide the rats that lurked in every corner. 

     On second thought, they didn’t lurk.  They gamboled around the room, having an especially good time on top of my sleeping bag.  Then there was the food.  It was mostly rice and dalbaht.  (I may be spelling it wrong, but I can’t find my diary.)  There was no butter.  No salt and pepper.  Just rice.  The chai was good, though.  We stayed one night at a monastery and bought a wheel of yak cheese so large, it would have looked comfortable on a tractor.  We could barely carry it between four of us.  Still,  we ate it in three days.  Now, I know what you’re thinking, but don’t worry.  Nothing gets plugged up when you’re walking for eight hours a day, uphill.  Its an impossibility.  (Side note: when I came back to Canada I searched everywhere for yak cheese.  Apparently, they don’t export it.)

     Rats.  Plain white rice.  Two hundred and fifty miles uphill.  To make matters worse, Clarence lost thirty pounds and I gained five. I could go on (and  will, if someone asks me to.)    But my point in all the whining is this.  What’s next?  Sliding floors that help you move faster?  Wait.  They have those in the airport.  You get my drift, though.  Why does the next generation have it so much easier?  And will they at least appreciate the hardships we suffered?  I’m begging all the baby boomers who read this to take up my cause.  Whine to the next generation.  Carry on the grand tradition of belly aching about change.  After all, I’m only one woman.  I can’t carry the load alone. 

Published by Judith Pettersen

Judith Pettersen is an author living in Canada. She blogs about her life in the north and the ups and downs of being a writer.

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