Let me start by mentioning an observation in a blog post by a young German couple we more or less trekked with, because they stayed at the same villages we did. They wrote that they didn't see the need for a guide on the trek to the ABC. I thought about how much they probably missed out on, compared to what Madan added to our experience.
One of the personal benefits for me in travel is seeing how other people's lives differ from mine. So, in addition to what I observed along the way, I had lots of questions for Madan about how the Nepali people subsisted in the often-narrow canyons and steep hillsides that surrounded us. He greatly enriched our experience with his familiarity of the country, the customs, the people and their subsistence agriculture, and the trail, itself. For example, starting out each day he gave us a summary of how many ups and downs we would have, with his hand motions. We had many questions for him and he always answered them with information that helped me understand the lives and history of people who live along the ABC trek.
Some examples: he explained that the dogs in the mountains at least have something to earn their meager keep (unlike the dogs in Kathmandu): they help keep the monkeys out of the rice fields during harvest time. Although he said a ratio of five monkeys to one dog will keep the dogs away. He explained how the monkeys strip the kernels from the plant, and spit out the husks or shells. He pointed out what plants or grains the villagers were drying in the sun. He noted the landslides/mudslides that have occurred along the steep canyon walls because of heavier-than-normal rains in recent years. He introduced us to rakshi, which the drinkers among us found rather enjoyable. So much so, in fact, that Madan led me into a tiny still, with the permission of the women cooking outside, of course.
In addition to the trek itself, and the scenery, some of my strongest impressions are of the porters. How these people make this ascent sometimes carrying almost half their body weight -- I might be thinking of the men in flaps making the ascent with provisions for the Tea Houses -- but Anik and Tika also did amazing work. As you know, Anik is a very charming, intelligent young man with ambition to do more in his life. We would like to help him do that, which I believe Ted and Jan talked to you about.
Finally, there was Dipak and our chauffeur, whose name I can't quite spell. Dipak was the equivalent of Madan in Kathmandu, answering all our questions and sharing his insights about Hindu and Buddhist traditions and beliefs and taking us to areas and merchants that casual visitors would never find.
I am very impressed by Swiss Family Treks. Your services along the ABC trek and in Kathmandu freed us from concern about logistics, whereabouts and whether we would see the places and sights that would be of most interest to us.
As someone who has hired and managed many co-workers over the years, I must say your team in Nepal speaks very well of your business.
I will send photos and, no doubt, our group will send more.