November 05, 2004

Border run: Zhangmu, Tibet to Kodari, Nepal

Why is Clarence from Calais, Maine smiling? Because 86-year-old Clarence, right, was the first person in our group to make it down the rocky, precipitous two-mile border crossing between Zhangmu, Tibet and Kodari, Nepal. Mike and I (that's Mike in the middle) came in a close second. We waited 4 1/2 hours for everyone in the group to negotiate the killer crossing. And how did 86-year-old Clarence beat us? He was carried by two Nepalese porters, who switched off. They hoisted Clarence onto their backs, piggyback style, and took off running down the cliffside. There was more than one switch-off that made me look away and pray. The porters hoisted Clarence onto their backs with so much power that I honestly thought he'd go flying over their heads and be hurtled into space. Clarence occasionally looked concerned, but generally had a ball. Just what you'd expect from a near-nonagenarian who vacations in Tibet... That's one of Clarence's porters on the left enjoying a well-deserved post-workout cigarette.