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  • Theresa Vernetti

The Oxygen Machine

September 26, 2007    Lhasa, Tibet

Long day of travel and transfer today.  Our driver showed up at 7:30am to take us to the airport for the Kathmandu-Lhasa flight.  No view of Everest as hoped for due to heavy cloud cover.  The aircraft was full of foreigners in zipper laden travel pants, fancy rain jackets and mountaineering backpacks.  A delightful box lunch included 4 cherry tomatoes, two pieces of chilled white bread, something resembling a slice of  generic spam and a stale red bean cake.   Many of these meals remained untouched after a quick peek and could probably be served again on the next flight. Landing at 12,000 feet is quite a shock to the system—immediately light-headed and dizzy, the group moved along at a snail’s pace with blinking zombie eyes and visa papers in hand.  Five hours later, after a nice big plate of yak noodles and a quart of electrolytes, I feel more comfortable—no need to fire up the oxygen machine in my room, or what I’m assuming is an oxygen machine.  Do I have to put money into that thing?    Another bonus in the room is the congratulatory letter (assuming that it’s something good because it is pink and filled with Chinese characters and exclamation marks.)  There are also two tickets and two decoratively wrapped red bean sweets.  It would be wonderful to learn what the tickets are for, however, the front desk staff stares at me blankly whenever I try to ask a question.   There is also a fancy bathroom with plentiful toiletries and a big, clean bathtub. There might even be hot water !!!  Bath was opted out of today because our Tibetan driver informed us that if we were feeling the effects of altitude, then we SHOULD NOT take a bath…but SHOULD drink plenty of water and even sniff oxygen from a can. Sebastian and Arthur received a call in their room today informing us of the name of the restaurant where we might meet the rest of the group if we were to head there around dinner time.   We found our way there all right, but had no idea as to the number, appearance, nationality or gender of the people we were looking for….the hostess shortly became as confused as we were but the manager somehow figured it all out and joined us with our other group members.   Still no sign of the leader or any information on what time we meet tomorrow but the important thing is that we have arrived…in Tibet !  Arthur said it best…”Where else would you rather be right now?”  None of us could think of anywhere better than the Yak Café on the roof of the world.

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