From Mayo Everest team member Bryan Taylor, Ph.D.
Abu Dhabi international airport, 7am. Our team is huddled around a small table chugging coffee or alternative caffeinated beverage, eating a random assortment of pastries, and trying to get a WiFi connection to send messages to friends and family back home. Apparently standing waiving your tablet above your head doesn't help.
I didn't sleep too well last night. No one did. It may have had something to do with the long journey. Perhaps even the time change. The fact that Air Berlin had the audacity to land planes about 100 feet from our hotel bedroom window starting at 4:30am didn't help either. We have already played a little friendly game of poker. Those who have had the fortune to rather easily taking my money from me in the past will be surprised to know that I ended up with all the chips.
The airport is busy, bussling, vibrant. Outside, the cluster of dome shapped buildings set with the desert background makes the airport look not too dis-similar to Luke Skywalker's home planet of Tatooine in the Star Wars: A New Hope movie. Inside, above us the ceiling of the departure hall is a beautiful mosaic of oceanic blues and greens. Herds of people are lining up in front of their departure gates. I like to look at the destinations of the departing flights, playing that game of "I have been there!". Turns out I have seen very little of the Arabic nations. I smile at this notion as my mind wanders to potential future adventures.
We are tired but excited. Excited about the prospect of finally stepping foot in Nepal.It's three hours until we leave and I and have many questions about what awaits us on the other side of our short flight to Kathmandu. What will the city look like? Smell like? Sound like? Possiblly more importantly, will all of our reaserch gear be waiting for us unscathed and in tact when we land? Did it survive the journey? Will our North Face and Nat Geo colleagues be there? And what then? Then it's to work. Finally. It feels like the expedition has really started. It has all become rather real.