Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Walkabout Stories


This is not Chicago...it is Nepal (for clarification). Although it feels like this today.

A good friend of mine was a computer programmer and Ironman athlete for about 9 years. Last year, he decided to go on a "walkabout" after a suggestion from one of our mutual friends down under. Basically (as I understand it) it is Austrialian for a trip to find yourself. Your calling. For perspective, he is already a very humble, grounded guy. This is a guy whose athletic resume says: 1) rode a 58 min 40k TT at Memphis in May 2) was in the top 20 overall at Ironman USA (until he blew up) 3) volunteers for children's charities...and he is single ladies! His best Ironman time is about 10:18 (IM CdA). He basically has taken time away from the sport after going to Kona once via lottery and missed by less than 4 minutes at least six times.

I'm proud to call him a friend. I hope this eases any "junk" you may be going through.

Meals:
It's amazing what we take for granted here. Meals are all prepared from scratch and prepared from what is available. When meals were ordered you could count on 2 hours at least to get the food. If you ordered veggies, they were literally picked from outside. Combine that with 15-20 people ordering food and one wood stove to cook on and it gives some idea of what goes into it all. It was a good shot of perspective.

People:
Are simply incredible...so tough, so humble. Porters my size carrying loads of 60-100kg from a strap across their heads...shoes falling apart or even sandals. They make so little money, have basically the clothes on their backs and are never without a big smile and kind words. We were all humbled by it and I hope to never forget it.

The Trip to Everest Base Camp:
Kathmandu = Nuts! Traffic with no apparent rules. 4-6 family members on one motorbike, animals everywhere, extreme poverty...quite the experience. We stayed in an old Palace of the kings so we were able to escape into our own little world...at $25/night for a 3 person room with a shower it is considered expensive and it is one of the nicer places to be...perspective is everything.

The Culture:
So different, yet so accepting. The Sherpa people particularly...the treks people do are essentially century old highways...walking highways...for goods and wares going up and down to and from different villages. These people are carrying on a way of life that has been going for years and little has changed except perhaps the goods they carry. Everything up there has been carried by someone so when you see a bottle of coke that is a 5 day walk in with no roads, it makes you appreciate it a bit more.

The Epiphany:
I found the best part about the trip was that I was able to strip off all the nonsense that I deal with at home...there was no background noise, no ego's, no alternate agenda's, no need for material garbage...you strip away all the nonsense and rediscover what's at your core. No wonder these things are life changing for people...I would argue it's not really life changing but just rediscovering your true nature....which is always there, it just gets loaded up with societies crap.

This shark...probably has a hidden agenda...lunch = you.

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