July 13 – waking up in Leh, India

It took 24 hours to get from Geneva to Leh. I woke up in Padma Guest House in Leh with a screaming headache, feeling like I got hit by a truck.
My bag was lost somewhere between Zurich and Leh. I didn’t expect to ever see it again even though I paid a whooping $300 to get it from the states to Leh.

I was arriving in Leh to run the Eleventy One race, 111k race, over Warila pass, 18,000 ft. The other runners I was meeting there were running the 222K race over two passes of 18,000 ft. I had completed that race in 2011. I wanted to do the 111k race because I had never crossed over Wari La and I was excited about that section of the course. I had already gone over Khardunga La, the mountain on the first half of the 222k race, twice in the past.  I felt that Kharduga La had given me safe passage twice before. I didn’t want to push my luck with her!

The mayhem trying to get to Leh began with a canceled flight in Geneva. I got on a flight to New Delhi but it landed me there at midnight which is not a good time to arrive in Delhi. I then had to leave the airport and take a bus over to another terminal 15 minutes away. I left the airport carting my backpack and suitcase ( still missing one bag!) and walked into a mass of humanity outside the airport at 1am. You would have thought it would be quiet at that hour but, on the contrary, I don’t think Delhi is ever quiet. Men started grabbing my bags to drag me to their cab telling me the shuttle bus was not working at night. I’ve been to Delhi 4 times and know to never trust a cab driver! I found an information stand. A young man with a beard, western clothes and suitcase was asking for information in front of me. He turned and ask me if I was looking for the shuttle for the terminal. I told him I was and he said I could stay with him for the ride over. I was immediately grateful to have someone who was going the same place as me. It made me feel safer traveling with another person at that particular time of night.

The shuttle bus was working and it was free. The taxi drivers all wanted our business and when they realized we were on to them, they suddenly disappeared.

The shuttle bus was old and dark and creepy. The young man with the beard was delightful. He introduced himself as Yaqeen. He was Moslem and going back to his homeland of Kashmir after studying in Malasia. His full name, Yaqeen Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander. He spent time telling me the meaning of his name, Yaqeen means Conviction, and Haq means Truth. There was more but those are the two I remember! His English was wonderful and I enjoyed getting a bit of history about Kashmir and the conditions there. We ended up spending many hours in the dark airport sharing our different backgrounds.

At about 3am I hear, “Hello Molly!” It was Alex Kaine, one of the runners for the race who I had met in Arizona. Alex was waiting for the early flight to Leh. Yaqeen was waiting to fly to Kashmir and I had a later flight to Leh that morning.
We all chatted for awhile then we were joined by Rajat and the rest of the group heading to Leh for La Ultra The High race.

Everyone grabbed flights early, except me. I had another four hours waiting for a later flight to Leh. I was so tired at that point that I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Earlier Alex had offered to watch over me if I needed to sleep for awhile in the airport. At that time I was not sleepy and turned down the offer. But now, hours later, I was dead tired. I had to risk someone stealing my stuff with my eyes closed. The best I could do was lie on top of my backpack and crash in the corner of the airport, which I did.

I arrived in Leh hours later, missing the beautiful view of the Himalaysa on the flight in as I was still exhausted.  I was delirious with lack of sleep with over 24 hours of travel. Stepping off the plane I was happy to see the sign ‘Molly Sheridan’ held up by an Indian man named Bickey who whisked me off to my room at Padma. I dropped all my stuff on the floor, fell into bed and slept for a day.
I woke up with the headache remembering that I was in Leh at 11,000 ft. Headaches aren’t unusual as your body adjusts to the altitude.

I had 10 days before me to prepare for another intense race in the Himalayas.
I wondered if my second bag would ever arrive. I figured it was close to impossible because Zurich was worlds away. How could my little bag find its way to this lost corner of the world…somewhere between China and Pakistan, in the middle of a hundred mountains over 15,000 ft? I let it all go. There is a different pace here and a lot of patience is required. This is not fast paced USA.

I settled into the vibe of this special country.  I relaxed into the serene peaceful mountains. I opened up my shutters and looked up to the monestary, Shanti Stupa. I was happy to be back in this world of adventure and mystery.

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