Cody again! I’ve always liked children so when I heard that Tenzing and Tashi (Pema’s sons) were coming on trek I was excited to get to know them. We first met the boys in our hotel, the Yak and Yeti. Everyone was a little shy at first because it’s hard to know what to say coming from such different cultures. But since that awkward meeting, all shyness has disappeared. Rich and Gaye’s sons, John and Mathew, are very near the same age as the sherpa boys. As we waited in Rumjatar for the weather to clear in Lukla the boys played card games and demonstrated their card tricks. But the real fun started once we began hiking. I hiked with the four youngsters the first day to Toktok. On the way they talked about their favorite things. They like basketball and soccer, terminator movies, Jimmy Hendrix and the Backstreet Boys. They know far more songs than I do in English. We sang some of the songs we both knew like Buffalo Soldier by Bob Marley. They told me many things about the local people and customs. Like when the children would hide from my camera they explained that their mothers tell them that those who take your photos come back and kidnap you. Rich and his sons taught them the phrase “holy cow.” So whenever there was something interesting or exciting on the trail the boys would shout holy cow and look at us and smile. On one of these occasions Tenzing turned to me and said “cow in hole.” I just laughed and corrected him. Since us boys walked about ten minutes in front of the rest on the group, Tenzing and Tashi would say we are the bravest. One time the two sherpa boys and I came upon a military checkpoint ahead of the rest of the group. The armed guards harassed the boys in Nepali asking them where the rest of the group was. I stood there and waited as they conversed, wondering what they were saying because the guards kept giving me strange glances. Finally they let us by and I asked what did you say to them? They replied, we told the guards that we were far ahead of our group because you are a very brave man. I was flattered.
I sat with them in their room in the guesthouse at Toktok. As Tenzing took off his coat that Rich gave to all our sherpas and porters, he exclaimed; “This jacket is marvelous!” That sums up both of the young boys attitudes about everything. They are always excited, grateful and happy. The next morning all four boys started playing a game John had taught. In the game you start in a circle and take turns trying to jump on the foot of the person to your left. If the person moves they lose their turn, however, if you do not think they can reach you and you stay it is your turn. If your foot gets smashed your out and once two remain they move wherever they like trying to step on the other persons foot. Rich and I soon joined the fun and after a few minutes we were all jumping, dodging, laughing and yelling. As Rich described later, this was the point when all cultural and social barriers broke down. Last night they left us to see their mother in Kum Jhung. Although they have only been gone a day, I already miss their presence. The sherpa people have such a great spirit to them, it is hard to explain without meeting them in person.