After a busy morning clinic we packed up our medical supplies and left the Tipling Medical Clinic in early afternoon. In three full days of clinic we had seen three hundred and fifty patients. As we descended through the town, many of the villagers came out to greet us; and true to nature, many of the Nepalese children ran along side us and shouted, Namaste, the traditional Nepali greeting. When we came to the village's western boarder there was waiting a lone woman with her child. She placed a string of white rhododendron flowers around our necks and presented to each of us the traditional hard-boiled egg. The string of flowers was a thank you. The egg, a symbolic gesture of food for our continual trek.
After this touching send off we hiked down a steep ravine into a gorge 2,000 feet below and crossed a rickety old wood bridge that spanned a crystal clear river. In the glow of the late afternoon sun we had a refreshing dip in the river, and then continued our hike up the steep and treacherous northern slope of the ravine. As the evening light faded we crested the top face of the gorge and walked onto the flat terraces that surround the village of Sertung. As I regained my breath, I remarked to one of the other doctors how lucky we were to get out of that steep gorge while we still had light. Little did I know what this comment foreshadowed.
We came into the village of Sertung an hour later and set up camp in front of the dilapidated four-room schoolhouse that (much to the delight of the village children) would be our clinic for the next three days. The school's walls were fieldstones held together with decaying mud, straw, and yak dung. The roof was a patchwork of mismatched corrugated sheets of tin. The windows, wood slats with hinges, could be swung open to let the air in or closed to keep the dust out. The classroom's blackboards were uneven pieces of slate taken from the mountains and cemented into the stone walls. The building had four rooms, one of which we converted into a pharmacy and stocked with the eight remaining porter-loads of medical supplies. Two of the remaining rooms were each divided in two by a blankets hung from the rafters, making four semi-private exam rooms. Each room was given a wood examining table, a towel and bowl of blue-tinged disinfectant water. This would be our medical clinic for the next four days.