Saturday, June 28, 2008

Last Post from PKA

For a variety of uninteresting logistical reasons, I have no photos to share this week; not that I don't have photos. Just that I don't have them with me nor the time to upload them so you will have to pain yourself through this post, which has been unusually challenging to write on this rainy Sunday (like Monday in the States) morning.

B & H are at yoga class right now but I did not feel like any stretching or bending would be good for my constitution at this hour.

We are taking the didis to lunch today, a grand idea inaugurated by Gordon and KC at the end of their visit. The didis deserve so much more but they are excited for the lunch nonetheless. Oh, and Sandeep gets to come along. He'll probably kiss all the waiters while putting away five pounds of food.

I'm having trouble thinking of a unified narrative for this post so I'll just give you newsy stuff from the week.

We had been trying to go on a short trek to a place called Ghandruk, which is a traditional Gurung village, more than a mile high. We intended to go last Monday but there was a transportation strike. Because of the rising cost of gas, the taxi drivers wanted the right to raise their fares. We needed a taxi to get north of Pokhara, to a place called Nayapul (New Bridge) and the strike lasted two days. We finally left on Wednesday.

This was actually a good thing because the transportation strike also included buses so the SH gang was home on an unexpected two-day holiday (the best kind). We were needed to keep them occupied during the day. B came up with the idea to play Pictionary which was a great, great idea. The children loved and the didis played too. It's really interesting to see how children can or cannot think abstractly or what their mind goes to when they are given something to draw.

A few hilarious moments... Saran got the word "bangle" (a woman's bracelet). He walked up the board and excitedly drew a circle and then turned around to his team with an expectant face, like "you get it?" Which of course no one did. It was an ordinary circle. He kept imploring them to guess which they could not. Rina later go the word for an orange and drew a flower, much to my and Brittany's amusement (we were doling out the words while H played scorekeeper and judge). The surprising best player was Bishal, who, it turns out, is quite the artist. On his first attempt he got "lion" and drew and remarkably good facsimilie thereof. Then he got duck and did the same. Each time his team guessed right, he jumped up and down and they showered him with hugs.

So, on Wednesday we got a late start and arrived at Nayapul a little before one. We hiked up the trail to a place called Syuali Bazaar when it started to rain heavily and enduringly. So we holed up their for the night and had a great time being the only tourists in this small village.

The next morning we set out early for Ghandruk. We had been told to expect a landslide up the trail but when we arrived it was much worse than advertised. We found a raging river coming down the hillside, bearing more and more debris from the still-crumbling landslide. There were a host of Nepali people standing at the banks watching the torrents and a few men offered to help us cross. We slid down the banks to the water's edge trying to determine if and how dangerous it would be to cross. After waiting for about thirty minutes, we discovered that the river was actively widening the chasm in which we stood. So while we might've been able to cross, it would not have been certain we could come back the same way, especially if it rained again that day (it did). We decided to turn back (sigh of relief, parents at home) and go back the trail to a village called Birethanti for the night, agreeing that it was the trekking not the destinations that mattered.

Along the way, B & H decided to photograph a waterfall coming down out of a steep hillside (there are so many seasons waterfalls here in the summertime). The waterfall crashed into an elevated pool, but you could see into it by scaling a small rock wall. They walked up and asked me to take some more pictures. While up on the rock wall, B got the idea to walk into the elevated pool and convinced H to do the same. The water was falling from at least 100 feet above and who knew what was at the bottom of the pool. Before I could object, they crawled over the edge and soon I could only hear high-pitched squealing but of the joyful kind. Naturally, as the responsible one, I had to go in and make sure they were all right. You could barely balance yourself inside the pool because they were covered in slick moss, but if you held to the sides you could maneuver around and get under the waterfall. It was pretty cool. However, I would like to reiterate it was not my idea.

I think this episode (one of many) is what's made B & H so much fun to travel with and such good volunteers at SH. As many people can tell you, for all the charm in Nepal, it can be a challenging place with the cultural differences (as it would be for a Nepali to light upon the US for a month). B & H have managed to keep a very positive attitude all the time and it's made all the difference in the world. I know that at their age and on my first visit, I would not have been so graceful in dealing with all the challenges.

Back at the house for the weekend, which is sadly our last, we spent as much time outside as the rain would allow. When Gordon and KC were here, they painted the SH logo on one of the walls in the playground. H painted a white border around that so we could have the children put handprints alongside in corresponding colors (wanted to check this with you Gordon, but time was of the essence). It will look very cool, and best of all, it has room for more handprints so when the time comes...

We head back to KTM tomorrow morning. I can't believe it. Then a day in KTM and a long, long flight home to the US, arriving on July 3. If I can manage the time I'll post more photos.

Thanks so much for all the notes and sentiments. I hope we've convinced you your support of SH matters, a great deal, to these children and without your support who knows what their lives would be like. Each child here has their own story, like Manju's, and because of your gifts they have a life that was impossible just a year and a half ago. They're learning and playing and, best of all, loving like happy, healthy children.

Life is good.



Sheila said...

I'm sure it will be hard to leave the House. Safe travels.

Mike Cihak said...

Travel safe Chris!!

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