We made one last-ditch effort at a flight this morning. I put on my most humble face for the airport staff as I requested assistance in getting out of Lukla. “Please sir, I know how busy you are, but do you think you might help us? And perhaps spare a scrap of bread and a shilling?”
“Do you need to get to Kathmandu or is Ramichap okay? There are buses from there to Kathmandu.”
“Yes, please. Put us on the flight to Ramichap!” Maggie and I agreed anxiously, with very, very little idea where the hell Ramichap was, but hearing it’s about 12 hours by bus from Kathmandu. Which beats a four-day hike followed by a 12-hour bus.
I didn’t want to get hopes up until we left, and our plane arrived and departed without us like the helicopter in Rambo that dashed his hopes of leaving the jungle. In fact, it was exactly like that. But then, soon enough it came back with a happy smile on its face. “I’m just messin’ with you.” “Oh, plane, you had me goin’!”
And so six of us boarded a minivan with wings and a single propeller after cargo was removed and a few seats stolen from an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting inserted. My knee up against the door handle the whole flight. Below is a video of our take off, followed by a video of our landing in a field that looks like it was freshly painted with lime stolen from a youth soccer team.
So, we got to Ramichap, several thousand feet lower in elevation, wandered out onto a dirt road, took off a few layers and were then almost immediately greeted by the bus below. No room inside, we took to the roof for a couple hours with about 15 other people and a wicker basket of chickens until room was available. At which point we rode the final 10 hours mainly on beat-up roads with dirt moguls that would make Picabo Street drool (sorry, I know that’s an ancient reference, I know, but is I think the only skier whose name I know).
Tomorrow we may be walking funny from the punishment of the intrusive bouncing, but we’re safely back in the screamingly loud streets of Kathmandu. Hot damn, we made it out of Casablanca, and nobody had to shoot a Nazi in the process.