Fire in the Teahouse

I said in the last post “but wait there’s more” in regards to the dramas of this trip, and here it is… FIRE

On Wednesday we had a long hike, although easy terrain, of about 10hrs. We were essentially unwinding our trip there, and did plenty of reminiscing along the way. It was common for someone to stop and remark “this was where we…”!

We finished in the dark (again), but were comfortable into a nice, hot dining room. We’d done the room draw, some of us has unpacked our bags and made our beds, others were playing on the internet or reminiscing about the last time we were in this room, and Jen made us do choir!!!

Not long after we had ordered our dinner, there was a commotion at the window. It was pretty crowded but i was able to peek between the bodies. I saw orange embers spewing from the wall between our teahouse and the one next door. I looked up and saw Mark T rushing to his room. He paused in the doorway and caught my eye , saying “we have to get out”.

And get out we did. The teahouse had about 30 people scrambling to collect their bags and exit down a very narrow, steep staircase. I hadn’t unpacked so just threw my bag over the bannister and clambered down. Even though we were rushing, no-one panicked, and everyone made it down safely and respectfully.

Once we were out, we did a headcount and realised Gretchen and Gina were missing. They were the most organised of the lot of us, and were undressed and ensconced in their room as we evavuated. They poked their head out to see what was going on and noone was there. Thankfully our hike nepal team were fastidiously rounding everyone up and they soon joined us (although they were very cold).

Kass saw the face of the woman who owned the property as she watched her teahouse burn down. The flames were high and thick at this stage. We didn’t know if they had insurance or access to water at this time, so Kass imagined the worst and had a very hard time staying composed and focussed with that poor woman’s face haunting her. We found out later that they did have insurance.

We were all outside now with our bags, and the fire is getting bigger and bigger. Mark S remarked on the gas bottles they use to cook, and the possibility of them exploding. The fire was properly raging now and it was urgent we get further away. This led to some more scrambling and fussing as people tried to find their head lights and jumpers. I had no luck I  this department, but Kass found hers so i made my way to the next village in the pitch darkness by walking a little behind Kass.

This is how big the fire was, this photo taken from the next village across the valley

Mark S was exhausted from the day, and really struggled to find more reserves to get himself to the next village. We then sat in a cold dining room while we waited for the teahouse owner to come back (they’d gone off to fight the fire). When they did return, we refused dinner (they cook with open fires or gas), but submitted to a cup of tea before bed. We were all in bed fairly early but thoroughly exhausted from the events of the day.

Throughout the night, there were two cases of gastro, which had thankfully resolved by the morning. However the surprises didn’t end there, with Mark S so exhausted he couldn’t walk, Tracey with a gurgling cough that prevented her from sleeping, and Clare with an excruciating rib pain every time she coughed (which was often).

Binod called a helicopter. Justine came with us too, as Mark’s partner. We caught a helicopter at 830am, and waited 1.5hrs in Lukla for another chopper to Kathmandu. Mark managed to sleep for the entire wait.

Walking past the wreckage the next day

While we were waiting, a very well dressed couple in their 60’s came in. He was wearing a safari suit and she was in a cream, iron pressed pantsuit. I tell you this because we were disheveled and stinky, and they were going to the same place that we went: Everest Base Camp. They were getting a helicopter and spending precisely 9 minutes at the camp. They didn’t even have a puffy jacket!! They might have been on to something…

There was an ambulance waiting for us when  we got to Kathmandu. It took us to the same international hospital that Di and Michele were in. They came to see us, Di remarking “you guys stink “!!! Stink we did but by then we didn’t care. The poor nurses screwed up their noses when all 3 of us took our shoes off!

Tracey and i have both been diagnosed with AMS (acute mountain sickness) and different respiratory infections. They’re managing our symptoms and making us comfortable while we sleep it off. We are sharing a room and slept 12hrs last night, woken only for meds before sleeping again. At 8 am when breakfast came, the food delivery guy reprimanded us for still being asleep, saying “you should be awake”!!

We have been down to see Mark, and he’s doing well, grumbling about losing muscle mass because he’s not getting enough protein, but then ordering chicken burgers and snickers bars for lunch. He is always entertaining!!

The plan is for all of us to get out tomorrow!!

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