Puja time Altitude Junkies style

Edita wrote today. I had to “edit” her written  message and make it a little more coherent because she clearly enjoyed the Puja festivities 🙂 I did clarify a few things with her before I made the changes to her suggested posting and agreed to remove  some “potty’ language hahah.  I will keep the original message for future reference 🙂 Pardon a few spelling mistakes. I just did not have time to go through it all again and again…I have a few other thousand things on the go but like many of you…MISS HER!!!

“We got up this morning before 8 AM Nepalese time. Today is a Puja day. We had breakfast – some yummy omelet, fried tomato and chapati (Nepalese bead). I always add porrage with honey. So, it is a good breakfast to stay strong on the mountain! Da Pasang, our chief cook, always makes amazing meals. It is hard to have an appetite at high altitude and good cooking helps a lot!
After breakfast, we all went to get our gear ready for Puja.Puja is a Buddhist religious ceremony when we ask gods for safe passage to Chomolungma.

Gear to be Blessed

Gear to be Blessed

No Sherpa would climb without Puja as they would consider it a bad luck without asking gods for blessing. Three monks from the Rongbuk Monastery arrived early this morning. As they were in no rush (only few groups this year on the Everest North side), they were ordering our Sherpa how to create the altar for the ceremony.

Puja North Everest

Puja North Everest

The weather was perfect, no wind, so we did the Puja outside. The ceremony started with the Monks chanting for an hour or so. The Sherpa sat all heads bowed. We also sat around and observed the ceremony. Many of us ended up taking photos and videos. The mood was perfect, maybe because it was such a perfect day! After some chanting, the Sherpa raised the prayer flag pole over the Puja altar that the Sherpa built this morning. Dorje, our Sidhar Sherpa, kept burning Juniper twigs, in a small furnace on the side of the Puja altar. Then, we are given handful of flour (called tsampa) to trow into the air. It got a little messy here as the wind picked up the flour and scattered all over us.

Margaret and I with Flour on our Faces

Margaret and I with Flour on our Faces

Then, we all stand in line and are offered pendant with Buddha picture. I got my zee stone pendant blessed again (first time on Cho Oyu, then Manaslu). Lamas smile as I gave my zee to them for blessing. They smile wide again when they put it on my neck after the blessing is done. Zee is a mystical Tibetan stone, supposed to protect from bad spirits and bring good luck. First time I submitted an 8,000’er, many Sherpa and Tibetans said it was zee who helped me. Let’s hope the stone will protect me again on the ridges of Chomolungma.
After that, we all stood in line for three shots of rum. They all had a good laugh when I choked on my third shot.

After that, the Sherpa dance came… I was dancing with few other non-Sherpas… just to almost pass out at the end of the second dance. I feel the altitude when I do any kind of physical activity.

We were given beers afterwards.

Tarki Sherpa and Edita (Beers) :-)

Tarki Sherpa and Edita (Beers) 🙂

This is when the real altitude junkies and Sherpa drinking began. We all went to our comms tent and everyone relaxed, opened up, telling jokes and stories. It was hilarious. Phil as always, shared  a few great stories with us from the what he knew about groups on the south side of Everest. The lunch was served around 1 pm and I retreated to the privacy of my tent not too long afterwards. I needed a nap after all that Puja drinking… It is not polite and insulting not to drink during the ceremony… Only one member in our group who never drank in his life remained sober but seemed to enjoy the celebration no less than his drinking mates. As I am writing this a few hours later, I still hear voices of Sherpa and some of my group mates who are still celebrating…:-) They all deserve to relax and enjoy this day as we will begin our climbing and “suffering” in few days. It will be really hard, the hardest thing most of us have ever done, of course, except Sherpa! However, the Sherpa are working so hard and they deserve more than anyone on this mountain to relax for a day! They will be carrying load from ABC (Advanced Base Camp) prettty soon and begin setting up out camp. They are the true heroes, without them, most of us would not even dream of coming here to climb these beautiful ridges of Chomolungma.”   Sounds like it was a classic AJ fun performance. Expect it to get very serious in the coming days.

After this rambling note, Edita wrote from her tent with some kind words for all of you. She feels good and wants to get on with it and get back to see her friends, family and was especially thrilled about the donations that were made in the last few days. Cameron – WOW! Luca, matched the other highest donations and Sheela you are a gem.  You have done your part in helping Sahel.  You are also courageous and  good human beings. Edita thanks you on behalf of the people that WILL be feed with this money.  Edita would rather starve than see the starving again. Others please help if you can. You cant imagine how thrilled she was when I told her about this. I had to talk her down from coming apart with feeling for your support. I said I would write THANK YOU so THANK YOU!!!!!!!!

pril 16th Sheela Matthew $100.00
Love your courage and dedication and wishing you great success. Take care and get back safely.
April 15th luca olivieri $200.00
brava!!!
April 15th Cameron Higgins $261.52
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