So much for the lovely views that greeted us yesterday – today was all clouds, mist & rain. We woke up early, since we would be awake by 6:00 a.m. anyways and got started trekking from Debouche to Namche by 7:15 a.m. Fortunately, the rain was fairly light, so it never soaked through our jackets or clothes. The rocks were a bit slippery on the downhill, but this didn’t slow us down too much. Greta and I ended up making it to Namche in just over 3 hours, which felt like it was exceptionally fast, but on the major uphill we took our time and had a nice conversation.
The trail was actually quite lovely and many flowers are beginning to bloom. This was a pleasant treat as there really wasn’t much to see beyond the trail! Supposedly the clouds have blocked any flights from coming or going to Lukla over the last 9 days, so fingers crossed that they’ll part for us just enough for us to squeak through and get back to Kathmandu two days from now. Most of Namche is now closed, although they have installed a new fountain for which they had the opening ceremony today. The fountain will greet trekkers entering Namche, but we were unable to get close as there is a great deal of consruction going on down there are it appears people are working on renovating the stupa that suffered damage in the earthquake. Hence, after a brief walk around town and a quick visit to the market, the rest of the day was spent catching up on email and resting our legs for a big day tomorrow.
The big treat for tonight though is trying the local beverage called chang. I enjoy brewing beer back in the States, so I’m always curious to try the local beverages and understanding how they are made. Friends can attest to a rather interesting concoction of chicha that I made this past spring, where I had a dozen friends contribute the enzymes in their saliva to help brew a drink, but I digress. Anyways, Laxmi and I had a great talk over my last dinner at Imja, where he told me all about how they brew chang and still it into raksi. If I understand correctly, chang is a fermented millet drink, although I believe it can also be made with rice or barley depending on what is locally available. It has a milky color and a little citrusy flavor that reminds me of some sour beers I’ve had back home. It’s quite tasty and provides a nice warm sensation as it goes down – perfect for the cold temperatures up here. If I understand the process correctly, chang can then be distilled in clay pots, which creates the more common alcoholic beverage called raksi. I find raksi to taste like a watered-down whiskey. Anyways, it’s time to enjoy a couple glasses of chang with my dal baht, so cheers to a successful trip and a safe, on-time flight out of Lukla!