Two Days Travel
When Pema was a young boy he saw the westerners trekking through his village in Khumjung and was intrigued by the blue jeans and cowboy hats they were wearing. There was one Sherpa from his village who had once traveled to the United States and had returned to tell of his adventures. Pema was curious about life in America, so he asked about the food there. The Sherpa replied that he ate ‘English muffins’ every day, which sounded mysterious to Pema. He then asked how far away it was to reach America, and the Sherpa explained that once he was strong enough to make a journey of two long days (which means a full 48 hours) of walking he could get there. Pema thought he meant it was literally two days of walking away from his village in the Khumbu region, so he saved up his strength to one day make the trek.
Years later, after a successful expedition to Himalchuli leading some Americans, the group gave Pema a great gift: Plane tickets to see the United States for himself. In the spring of 1985 he visited America, and high on his list of priorities was to ask about where he could get a cowboy hat and blue jeans. His hosts were amused. They showed him a store with many, many hats and blue jeans. More importantly, he came to realize that the 48 hours of travel was cramped in an airliner, rather than hiking along a trail from his home.