When we planned our trek in Nepal we thought we would encounter interesting local people and fellow travelers but we didn’t bank on making some new, lasting friendships. Travel is full of surprises and the world is full of interesting people.
Walking through the Kathmandu domestic airport we see a cluster of travelers. Adults and children with smiles and banter in American accents. We look, look away and look back in amazement as one of the party bears an astonishing resemblance to our daughter Miya. Tall, lean, with blonde short hair and dark rimmed glasses, Ellie is Miya’s doppelganger. Our families look at each other and smile as they also notice the resemblance.
Beautiful Sarah approaches and introduces herself. Sarah is warm and friendly, from the Pacific North West of the USA and travelling with her family and another, also from the same region. Ellie is her friend’s daughter. They are trekking together and flying to Lukla as we are.
We are called for our separate flights and with cotton wool in our ears to drown out the engine noise we fly up the valleys and catch our first glimpse of the Himalaya. The flight is smoother than we prepared ourselves for and the landing is swift and slightly hair raising.
To our delight we happen upon the Americans not long after we leave Lukla for our first days trek to Phakding. Two families, 8 in total, including the kids Grace, Ellie, Sage and Sam. What a treat to find interesting people with kids the SAME AGE AS OURS!
If you are considering trekking with your kids in Nepal I highly recommend running into another family. The walk seems easier when your children have friends to talk with, particularly new friends with exotic accents. Toby and Sam played American football and soccer in the small paddock outside the Phakding teahouse where we spent our first night of the trek. We watched poor Sam, the youngest of the group, succumb to jetlag during dinner in the communal dining room that night. Miya and her new friends Ellie and Sage chatted about anything and everything. We talked and shared stories and were amazed to hear that the older girls had to bring SCHOOLWORK along with them from home. As if they were not learning bucketloads while travelling!
Over our few days trekking together we found so much common ground. The kids all named every stray Nepali dog they met, and there were quite a few. They almost skipped up the arduous stone steps leading to Namche as they nattered with their new friends. They could tell all the family stories that we had heard a thousand times and they could find hilarity in the difference pronunciations of words in Australian and American English.
During the evenings we drank many cups of milk tea, played ukulele, explored our commonalities and differences.
As for me I found a wonderful friend in Sarah. We discussed wine and the world and kids and gardening and how beautiful the mountains are.
In Namche the kids decided to shop for Christmas gifts for their new friends as we were trekking in December and all of them would be away from a traditional “home” Christmas. Namche is the perfect town for kids to shop. The smaller the kid the bigger the discount and as long as they stay out of the way of Zopkios and Yaks there was very little trouble to get into. They honed their bartering skills and delighted in choosing the perfect gift for each of their friends.
We said multiple goodbyes as we left the lodge in Namche, as we sat together for morning tea, then finally as we turned left for Gokyo and they walked on to Tengboche monastery. Our two kids started fighting about ten minutes after staying goodbye to our new friends.
Technology is wonderful. We have kept in touch, particularly Miya and her sweet friend Sage. I hope we will all see each other again. Friends in different parts of the world open our eyes. And I’m all for having my eyes opened. x