Max Lowe received a National Geographic Young Explorers Grant to document social change in Nepal’s Khumbu region alongside our 2012 Everest Expedition. The expedition is being covered live on the National Geographic magazine May edition iPad app. Read Max’s previous Everest dispatches.
The time spent in and around Namche seems to have breezed by. Spending time with my Sherpa family here at Panorama Lodge, as well as the new friends I have made here in this mountain city has been wonderful. One of my new friends Nyima Sherpa, who has lived his entire life in the Khumbu, is now a part owner in a local coffee shop as well as the official Namche Bazaar Mountain Hardwear outlet. He loves the Khumbu, which is why he has stayed here. He has managed to make a good life for himself among his family and the peace of the mountains. With the success of owning a business in the Khumbu though, comes the reliance on a steady flow of trekkers and tourists to the region. “Things have been slower this season, and you can feel it in the stores,” says Nyima.
Life for the people here is a vibrant one, though, and they appreciate its perks just as much as anywhere else in the world. As I sit with Sherab at the local momo shop for lunch of a steamed dumpling filled with meat and vegetables (the best in the Khumbu he says), we discuss the local workings of the town and the region. We talk about the local power plant across the valley in Thamo, which provides electricity to the area. The plant was donated by the Austrian government, in the early 90s and provided the first electricity to the region. It began the onset of technological advancement in the region. Nowadays, most every Sherpa, young and old, has a cell phone, and amenities such as electric washers and driers and big-screen TVs are found in some of the lodges and homes. The Khumbu has become part of the globalized world … so it would seem.