Wednesday, May 22, 2013

GOS - May 22 - Farewell to Kagbeni

The trip into Kagbeni involved crossing the Kali Gandaki river on both a swinging steel suspension footbridge, and fording in our Toyota 4wD - at one point water reached up to the wiper blades. Oh yeah, that was a scary moment. We almost turned into a boat.

The last stretch before reaching Kagbeni, our northernmost point on the project - and highest at 9186-ft.- also required a jarring drive along a vertiginous former donkey trail - the only way in from the south. The road, if you can call it that, exemplifies the sheer verticality of this part of the world. The fact that our Nepali, non-English speaking driver answered a cellphone at a particularly treacherous point was disquieting to say the least.

Today eye camp is in a dusty, windswept schoolyard -  flags  whip violently in near gale force winds. The drill is the same as yesterday - visual acuity testing, an eye examination, refraction if necessary, and, also if needed, a visit with our nurse and foundation doctor.

"We turned a sparse classroom into an exam room  with plastic chairs, school desks, and portable ophthalmic equipment. It did the trick and helped us screen candidates for surgery planned for Thursday," said Operation Restore Vision's Christopher Teng, MD.

Our hotel accommodations in Kagbeni are spartan, but comfortable. Most rooms have two cots, a western style toilet (a rarity around these parts), and a hot shower that drenches the entire bathroom floor. Best to wear waterproof hiking boots in there.

Oh, and sorry, but TP and towels are not provided. One soon becomes adept at drying off with dirty clothes from the day before.

The food is quite filling - we've brought along our own cook who has been told the surefire way to a large tip is to make sure no one gets sick. So far so good.

This afternoon we headed back south. En route to Marpha we stopped off in Muktinath, a sacred Hindu and Buddhist pilgrimage site with 108 fountains.

On Thursday surgery begins.

- Jeff Blumenfeld

No comments:

Post a Comment