Friday, December 9, 2011

intern takes a trip: nepal part one

namaste  from nepal!  well, i  signed up for an adventure and that is what i've had so far!  starting at the beginning...

after a twenty seven hour journey i was in the chaos of kathmandu... shortly after arriving at our hotel i knew my germaphobia was gonna be majorly tested on this trip!  it could have been from the sight of the brownish grey streaked bathroom towels or it might have been the nasty pink bathtub with layers of black dirt caked on the bottom.  all i know is my fear of no hairdryer was the least of my worries....

shortly after i met my group at the hotel we spent a few hours wandering the streets of kathmandu, filled with women selling marigolds for hindu ceremonies, cows wandering amongst the trash, and vendors selling everything from fruit to fake north face gear that i am doubtful would hold up during any major trek.... my new roommate helped me find a towel and shower shoes... i never thought that a towel purchased from the side of a dirt road would be cleaner than one provided in a hotel i am staying in! yikes!!

guess what's behind the curtain...
i am now in pokhara. i am one of a team of 14 building two new houses and renovating 3 others in a small village nearby.  every morning we hop on a rickety bus that travels the long winding narrow and hilly roads to get there... it takes over an hour to travel the few miles each way and the bus drops us off approx a mile away and we walk the rest of the way there on a winding dirt path... while working everyday  we are surrounded by giggling barefoot children,  goats, chickens, ducks, cows, water buffalo, etc wandering by.  this village has no running water and the facilities consist of a small concrete outhouse with a hole in the ground... actually there are two of these very fab (ha!) concrete rooms... one has an amazing view from the open doorway but the inside is pretty disgusting and the other has a nicer inside but not such an amazing view.  i could never have imagined considering a room with a hole in the floor a "good" bathroom just because the hole seems a smidge nicer. nuts! anyhow, everyday i am mentally calculating the amount of water i can drink to stay hydrated and require as few visits as possible!  one gal in the group has been lucky enough to avoid it altogether!  yep, i am super envious!
some gals we met on the long walk to the bus

the team i am a part of is pretty awesome and my roommate rocks!  we all seem to have bonded quickly over this short period of time (i didn't know anyone prior). the age range is 20's to 70... including one aussie guy (the sassy comic relief), a nice canadian guy, a fun father daughter team from ohio (who are in the middle of a two month trip around the world!), my l.a. based south african born roommate (so great to have someone to laugh about the craziness of this experience with!), one married couple from la, a fun guy from maryland, two sweet east coast gals and the 70 year old widower i mentioned in my last post (this is really hard work and can't imagine doing it at 70!)...  small bummer is that the habitat team leader in charge is nice enough gal and a hard worker but a bit uptight -commandeering our scheduled free time the first few evenings with multiple unnecessary meetings in the lobby and a 10 pm nightly curfew- would be well served as an elementary school teacher i think (this really became evident when she asked if we all knew how to squat when we were shown the "toilet" facilities - and yes, she was serious)...  but i  am hopeful this will improve before the trip is over... and i'm not gonna lie, a lot of us are sneaking in a smidge past curfew so we can see some of the town and wind down a little and the thrill of doing it is similar to the feeling i got when i was younger.  and sadly the nepali habitat chapter leader is a bit lazy, spending the first couple of days lounging under the tent in our break area and text messaging rather than working with the rest of us. a few of us voiced our annoyance with his lack of motivation and he now hangs out at our build sites and pretends to pitch in every so often...  the type a gal in me wants him to be a little more motivated and efficient with his time.
mongole in front of what will be his kitchen

kashi with her loom behind her

we don't really have a translator on site so when we communicate with the villagers there is a lot of smiling and miming going on.  they are excited to have us there and are always hanging around the building sites watching us work.  some of them have jumped in to help with the work which is awesome.  i have mastered the nepali translation for hello (pronounced nah-mah-stay), thank you (dahn-ya-bat), and what is your name (tim-roo-nahm-kay-ho) and have learned the names of the folks that will have homes when we are finished. my favorite is an always smiling old man named mongole! he loves to have his photo taken and is always asking us to take one...  his wife kashi has been weaving sleeping mats out of hay just steps from where we are working. of course in just a few hours time she can weave something that would take me a year!  you may remember my unsuccessful venture into the world of weaving with a three month project that became a modern lopsided pillow.  
lunch is served!
our lunch everyday is prepared by the local villagers rather than in what i would consider a "safe" restaurant... i was comfortable eating chicken when i arrived in nepal but when i saw a guy drive up on a motorbike yesterday with two chickens hanging from it i quickly became a vegetarian for the remainder of the trip.
this year has been all about getting out of my comfort zone and this trip doesn't disappoint in that respect!! and i now know the difference between a shovel and a spade and can mix cement, sift sand from gravel to create mortar, dig a hole for a foundation, lift rocks, lay cement blocks, use a string with a tiny weight as a level...... the work from 8-4 everyday is back breaking for sure and i am popping a lot of advil!

yesterday evening our bus hit a guy riding his bicycle when traveling from the village to the hotel and kept on going after a brief stop where the driver and the nepali habitat chapter leader looked out the door and decided it was ok to move on even though the guy and his bicycle were laying in the middle of the road. nuts! 

i won't go into detail but today i am recuperating from some sort of stomach ailment at my hotel... i don't believe i can survive the bumpy bus journey to and from the build site at the moment... plus i don't want to hog either of the fancy bathrooms i mentioned in the village... fingers crossed i will recover by tomorrow so i can join a few of my team members on what is supposed to be an amazingly beautiful trek!

sending a great big thank you to my friend hilary and tom for giving me a silk sleep sack that i have used every single night here in the dirty hotels.  there is no way i could sleep without it! that and wet ones are my trip necessities.

the power is out for many hours every day here and the internet is just like 1996 dial up so it may be a bit before my next post....

for those of you just tuning in and wanting to know more about me you can by going here... and if you didn't already know... i created a facebook page... check it out and "like" it! and follow me on twitter and you can even follow my boards on pinterest too!

until next time...

the (formerly almost) 40 year old intern

until next time!

the (formerly almost) 40 year old intern


  1. You rock, Holly! Talk about going waaaayyyy outside your comfort zone. I hope you are feeling better soon!

  2. i love to travel, never been to Nepal before
    interesting place to be id say
    follow me if you like me :)
    check out my art

  3. Cool trip! Got antibiotics? Have fun!

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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