Thursday 20 April 2017
After the disappointment of not being able to see Federico before the trek, I was excited that today was the day we were meeting up. If you have read from #25 you will know that Federico is an ex-work colleague who now works for Rokpa in Kathmandu. The Rokpa Guest House is in Boudha, very close to the iconic Boudhanath Stupa and various trek members had not had the chance to see it yet. As I had been there before, and was now an old hand at haggling with taxis, at 9am I led a party of nine down the road and procured three cars to take us there post-haste. We parted ways at the temple and I made my way to Rokpa where I was happy to see Shiva and, at long last, Federico.
We went to a local restaurant where I had a giant vegetable Mo:Mo, quite different to the one I had at the Garden of Dreams (see #29)! It was great to chat to Federico and hear about his life and work at Rokpa and all the great initiatives they are championing. It was also good to share more personal thoughts about “Life, the Universe and Everything” and to impart my hopes and aspirations about this trip. We moved onto a slice of cheesecake and hot chocolate at a coffee shop, and our brief reunion had to come to a close as he had a meeting with the owner of Rokpa to discuss future projects.
As we said goodbye we happened to bump into some of the girls from the original party, so Federico went one way and Amanda and I the other, as she was taking me to a jewellery shop. In Namche one of the others had bought a charm in the shape of a Buddhist hand held prayer wheel on a chain and I had really liked it. I should have bought one there but I missed my chance. Amanda had seen one so I ended up buying it, along with a lovely silver garnet ring. I didn’t even try to haggle as I was quite tired, which I slightly regretted as I later found out others had bought items about a third less than I paid. However I didn’t really mind as it was still a lot cheaper than at home and I was happy with my purchases.
That evening we were planning a small drinks reception as the lovely Richard and the younger guys were housed in a mini-apartment with a couple of bedrooms and a living room with a little kitchen off the side. We needed some refreshments so a contingent of Team Tortoise went in search of wine, and stopped at the local artefact shop where I got Kay to try on my ring while the others were browsing. It was a cunning ploy to find out what her ring size was as we wanted to buy her something for being an amazing trek leader. We had found out that she wanted a ring from a particular shop in a place called Baber Mahal, so all of the A team had contributed to the pot and the plan was to buy it tomorrow.
It was nice to be able to relax – and dress up (in a dress!), sip wine, nibble on snacks and sit around chatting in Richard’s penthouse. I think we started our little reception around 7pm or 7.30pm and suddenly it was 9pm and we hadn’t yet eaten. The youngsters decided to go into town to Thamel and the rest of us found a local restaurant. We ordered or food and cocktails, my first of the trip I think, and then after receiving our cocktails we waited … and waited.
By about 10pm I was getting a little bit hungry so I enquired as to where our food was. “It’s coming” I was told “but would we like to order another cocktail while we waited?”. I cheekily said “Well, if you’re offering a free one then yes please!”, so they gave us all a free cocktail!! When the food did come it was really nice, it turned out that they were just about to shut when we walked in and so had to get the kitchen up and running again, which is why it took so long. I then felt a bit bad for asking for a free cocktail, however there were eight of us and we all had a cocktail and a main meal so I guess it was worth their while. At any rate, we were very grateful to them and went home with a happy glow.