i can't believe i have been here in nepal for almost 2 weeks already! well, i am happy to report that i am still alive after my stomach issues! and i had an amazing weekend with my team... we took charge and planned a trip to a place called sarangkot after we read that it was an amazing place to view the sunrise and sunset... we were all dying to see the snow capped himalayas and so far we hadn't seen them at all because it is so darn foggy/hazy here in pokhara... so we booked rooms at a place there called the super view motel.... we heard it was much colder there than in pokhara so for the one night i decided to bring every stitch of polar fleece i packed along with my long-johns in my suitcase rather than just a small overnight bag. what i hadn't anticipated was a long journey up some jagged stone stairs in order to get the massive hill to our hotel from the stairs. thankfully i hired a porter for the job!
|paragliding near our hotel in sarangkot|
|see those stairs in the distance and that tiny building at the top of the hill? thankful for my porter!|
my bad hotel karma on this trip followed me to sarangkot.... apparently it wasn't enough for the universe to bless us with nasty towels, room and shower in kathmandu, or a moldy bathroom and the seemingly constant appearance of bedding with questionable stains and no working electrical outlets in the room causing me to dry my hair in the hotel lobby in pokhara... and we have yet to encounter a hotel that has heat. the super view motel only had a super view going for it. 3 of us gals shared a room that smelled like something died in it recently and was festering.... honestly i haven't smelled anything so horrible before in my life!if you stay there do not book room number 5.... i really wasn't expecting fancy hotels on this trip but i was expecting clean...
|showdown with a local during our trek|
we did go for a trek that afternoon and it was interesting because this was the first time during the trip that we encountered people approaching us and asking for money. my favorite moment was when a knife wielding villager did so during the trek and instead of just saying no, one of our trip leaders indignantly put her hands on her hips and announced to this woman that we were on a humanitarian mission building houses for poor people and therefore should not have to give her money. of course the woman she was saying this to spoke no english other than "money" and could probably care less about the random other people that are getting houses in another village miles away due to our efforts.. hilarious!
|very cool full moon lunar eclipse!|
so, the group of us sat around a fire pit that night watching a full moon lunar eclipse!! how cool is that??? a full moon lunar eclipse with our bare eyes and no need for any sort of telescope! amazing!! we were up until very late that night (no need to rush to our rooms) drinking wine, sharing stories and listening to music from our ipods using the cool guy from maryland's speakers (my 80s birthday party mix was a hit!)... such a fun evening! the photo above is thanks to the dad of the father/daughter team from ohio. he was able to get some really amazing photos of the eclipse with his camera and was so cool about sharing them!
and then we got up at 5:30 the next morning to trek up to a viewpoint to watch the sunrise. and guess what??? we finally got to see the himalayas when the sun started rising! it was amazing and almost made us forget the nasty hotel. and i have been wanting to see these darn snow capped mountains since my arrival but haven't been able to due to the haze! and so thankful we got up to do it because by 9 am the view of the mountains disappeared into the hazy fog....
|bright colored row boats and poinsettia tree|
|love the banana trees!|
we spent the rest of the weekend exploring other temples and sites around pokhara... there is a lake here that i spent hours walking around... loving the poinsettia trees and the very brightly colored rowboats on the lake!
oh and i had the bright idea of tucking my money and credit cards between my insoles of my shoes. i do this for a lot of international trips and i think it is a genius idea.... well, except for when you are traveling to countries that require that you remove your shoes and leave them outside of the site you are visiting! yeah, that has happened to me at restaurants and temples here in nepal and for whatever reason i always forget that requirement until it is time to leave them in the pile of other anonymous shoes... oops...
ok, and the habitat group leaders? well they finally loosened up a little bit... enough to let us plan our own trip to sarangkot after we nixed the nepali leaders suggested plan of sightseeing involving a refugee camp and shopping (i mean.... really??). and we also got them to let us take turns picking restaurants for our group dinners rather them planning buffet style planned menus of american style food for us.... baby steps but so excited to have made some progress! and the nepali habitat leader is sort of helping more now yet still just stares and blinks a few times in response to a hard hitting question like "can you please translate what that guy just said?" at least he replies now after approximately 5 times of us asking a question. and he still pretends to work and is usually available to jump in and grab a shovel if there is a camera present.
|a game of nepali chicken!|
and the bus ride to and from the site has involved a few misses of other vehicles coming down the same narrow hill.... i like to cal it nepali chicken. always a game wondering which driver will back down and let the other pass first... at least i am happy to report that we haven't been involved in anymore hit and runs with bicyclists since the last one! phew!
so, not only is that sleep sack saving me on this trip as well as my purrell and wet ones but so is my dramamine! no way could i handle all the bumpy rides without it!
|knit hats and sun hats are my staple here in nepal|
we were back on site these last couple of days and made lots of progress on the houses... oh, and the team member i mentioned that never had to visit the room with the hole in the floor? yeah, she still hasn't had to visit it. and yep, I'm still jealous... oh, and to top it off she is one of those lucky people that doesn't have bad travel hair like i do. when i visit humid climates like nepal i have the joy of having a blond puffball of uber frizzy hair during the entire journey (most of my photos from this trip involve me wearing a hat)... well, not only is this gal blessed with amazing bladder control but she also looks like she has stepped off a shampoo commercial every single day. i am lucky if my hair looks half as good after a professional blowdry. perhaps in my next life i will be as lucky?
still in the midst of many power outages and that 1996 style slow internet here so stay tuned for the next update whenever that might be....
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until next time...
the (formerly almost) 40 year old intern