On a bright sunny chilly morning of December 29th, we jumped in a tuk-tuk and made our way to the Chaing Rai Airport.
All of us excited in anticpation of the flight to Nepal but sorry to say good-bye to Thailand.Because of availability and timing of flights we happened to end up buying tickets in first class. Whoppee!
Needless to say when Boarding for buisness class was called and Gerald and Torin walked through the gate in their backpacker fashion, they were asked for proof that they indeed had tickets for the high end seats.
It was totally a treat to fly business class and we all enjoyed the free alcholic drinks, the food, including appetizers, the main meal and dessert and the extra space. Torin actually had a few problems adjusting to this class of flying.You can ask him why ,when you get a chance.
3.5 hours later we landed in Katmandu,welcomed by a gray sky and very cold weather. What a change from even the winter weather in Thailand. The first few days were a bit of and adjustments as we all scoured the local shops in the tourist area of Thamel for warm woollen sweaters and yak wool hats and extra socks and gloves.
The days have been sunny and warm though, so that keeps us going through the cold evenings and nights.
On January 1 we began our volunteer training with Volunteer Services Nepal and spent the first two day in class learning about the Nepalese culture and beginning our language training. We are with a group of 8 other volunteers, all considerably younger that Ger and I and all considerably older that Tor, so I guess that puts us in a unique situation.
After two days of classes we headed out to Bistachhaap, which is a community about 1 hour bus ride out of Katmandu but only about 20 km. This is where we met our host family and suddenly were immersed in Nepalese life.
The first day or two was a bit rough for the lady of this family. The bed is rock hard and I mean rock hard, there is no running water to the home we are staying at and consequently no private place to wash, we eat our meals sitting crosslegged on the floor with our right hand and it is bloody cold at night. Just a teeny bit of culture shock and culture adjustment. I have to admit,I was dreaming of my soft leather couch and warm fleece blankets and my gas fire place on those first two nights.
After surviving the first few nights and starting to become familiar with the members of our host family, we suddenly have fallen in love (sort of) with this new way of living. There are 4 people in the family. Ranjana, is the mother and is about 28 years old. Suda is the 10 year old daughter, who already has a fairly good command of the English language. Egge is the 8 year old son and he is a real clown and just loves playing with Tor and the takraw ball. Jaggu is the father and he is pretty fluent in English and is the manager of the orphanage that we will be working in. His ability to speak English, has been really really really, did I say really helpful and made it considerably easier to adjust to life in the community of Bistachhaap.
The house they live in is a mud hut and is surrounded by fields of vegetables, they cook over an open fire and have two cows and two lambs that also live within close proximity of the house. In the Hindu religion the cow is a very important animal and is treated royally with good qualtiy food, so hence it produces the most delicious milk, which we have had the benefit of enjoying. In fact on Saturday night, Ranjana made a huge pot of rice pudding, which was so scrumptious and reminded us of home.
To finish off our training we have come back to Katmandu for meetings a hot shower and to buy some necessesties before we head out to the village for the remaining 5 weeks of our volunteer experience.
We are all looking forward to living and learning about this farming community in Nepal. Torin for the chance to meet some new kids, Ger to have the chance to help out with the new soccer field they are creating and me, to meet all the other women in the community and hang out with them. We also are looking forward to having the chance to explore some of the surrounding mountains in our free time. One of our most favourite things to do.
Oh, by the way, we now have new Nepalese names that were given to us as I think it was difficult for Ranjana to say our English names. So “Ram” is Gerald, “Krishna” is Torin and “Mino” is me, Mary. I get a chuckle every time I think of Ger being called Ram. I guess it reminds me of the movie Rambo and somehow in my mind the two, that is Rambo and Ger don’t jive, but hey, maybe this new name will bring out a differnt part of Ger’s personality. Hahaha!!!
Since easy access to an internet cafe will be difficult over the next several weeks, please don’t worry about us if you don’t see any new updates, we are fine and will be in touch when we can.
Ta Ta, mero Saathi ra Pariwaar, (good bye my friends and family).