I forgot to mention in the last blog that we had the opportunity to visit the Emergency Room, which is separate from the hospital. We were just visiting out of interest, not out of necessity. It is where the x-ray department is located – which is really just one small room, with the older type x-ray machines. They ER consisted of one room, about the size of our living room, with 6 different hospital beds. There are two small out buildings which are the labs and there is a pharmacy. Jeff said that the x-ray equipment was old, but still good enough. When our local hospital at home, where Jeff works, replaced their equipment with digital, computerized equipment 6 years ago, they sent the old machines to a third world country. Perhaps the department here was outfitted in a similar way.
The voting for the election finished on the Wednesday, but it took 3 days to tally up the votes. There are four different parties: Democratic, Democratic/Communist, Pure Communist and Maoist. The Maoists have split and some of them were very against the election and had threatened bombing. I am writing this blog on Sunday, and I am happy to announce that they were just threats and everything went very well with the election. There has been an increased police and army presence in the area and Surya had been parking his truck at the government lot to keep it safe. Thankfully the extra precautions were not needed. We have never felt at risk. We are registered with the government official and we were honoured to meet with him in person. We walked over to the government offices and Surya and Bindi introduced us. He was a very intelligent, friendly man, who was genuinely interested in who we were and what we thought of our visit to the area. The Democratic party has won the election. In this area the Democratic/Communist party won the seat.
On Wednesday the girls’ and my Nepali outfits were ready at the tailors. They are made to our measurements and they are made to fit snuggly. This made it quite comical when we were trying them on. Let’s just say that Nepali women do not typically have the same chest size as me, so some adjustments had to be made for me to be able to get in and out of it! We wore them to school the next day and we were a hit! On Thursday we picked up Jeff and Luke’s Nepali duds and Luke immediately put his on. The kids LOVED that we were dressed in Nepali style. By Friday Jeff was also dressed in his new Nepali gear. I have to say, we all looked great. The pants are so comfortable. The boys’ pants have drawstrings and when they are undone, they stretch out to about 3 times their waist size. It really is something funny to see. The boys also have hats. When we were walking in the market, it was Jeff who attracted the most attention. Men would walk by him, stop, turn, watch him pass and then smile and speak to each other in Nepali. I don’t think they had ever seen a 6 foot tall, white guy dressed in a full Nepali suit!
The tailor, in the marketplace, putting the finishing touches on our outfits.
Friday evening the English teacher had the staff at the school to her family’s home for a small dinner. Unfortunately for the school, she is continuing her studies in Katmandu and Friday was her last day with us. She is very bright and is interested in studying internationally. We would love it if she chose to come to Canada to continue her education. Her family lives in a series of 3 buildings. In one building her brothers and male cousins sleep, in the second there is a shared kitchen downstairs and her parent’s and her rooms upstairs and in the third is her aunt and uncle’s room. In the lower part of the first and third homes the goats and the cows are kept. They have a beautiful view of the mountains and river below. They also have a garden full of fresh veggies, which is where all the food for our supper came from. We had boiled potatoes, with a spicy relish, Nepali radish (which looks like a huge, white carrot), some greens and popcorn. Everything was prepared by the English teacher, her mother and grandmother. It was delicious. As we walked down the path towards her home, the local vet was following us. He said that he was on his way to examine a cow. Lucky for us, the cow was at the same home where we were headed. He allowed the kids to watch as he examined the cow. It was pretty interesting, especially watching him prepare to do the examination. I’m just glad that I was not the cow, since the vet’s arm was pretty far up her rear! There was also a smaller calf. Their family is Hindu, so the cows are considered sacred and will never be eaten. After, we walked back into town and went to a restaurant in the market for burgers – not beef – buffalo. They were quite yummy!
Saturday was our weekend. School runs from Sunday to Friday so we made the most of the day off. With the strike over we could travel! Surya had planned to take us up to the top of Gauri Shankar, which is the highest mountain that we could climb. It would be a two hour drive and then a one hour hike up the mountain. Since it was hazy at the top of the mountains, he suggested that we wait until the next Saturday to go. He said that if we hiked to the top and couldn’t see anything, then we would just be exhausted for nothing! The kids were quick to agree! Instead he planned another journey. Surya, his wife, Sapana, the driver and us piled into the truck and headed towards the market. We then met up with 2 of the teachers, the teacher’s daughter and her mother. The truck was packed and the kids were happy that they let us old gals sit in the backseat and they got to sit in the back. The roads were rough and dusty and after about 1 1/2 hours we stopped to move Luke into the front of the truck because he was feeling nauseous. Here is where our lack of Nepali language played a part, as after we switched and had him in the front, we drove about 100 m and reached our destination. We were all laughing, as we had no idea we were that close. Our destination was a Hindu temple, where there were many people there worshiping. It was beautiful and so interesting to see how it is done. There were bells that they rang, certain paths we had to follow, a maze that also included different worshiping areas, donations that were left, it was very spiritual. Unfortunately, one of the donations was a goat, with its head removed. This was pretty upsetting for the kids. We then had lunch at a roadside restaurant. It was really just a small tin shack with benches and tables and a clay, wood burning oven/cooktop just outside. We had the best soup ever. It had noodles, spices and onions. We then loaded into the truck and headed down the rest of the mountain to the Hydro plant, powered by the river rushing down the mountain. We had hoped to drive through the area and to fish in the river, but we were unable to pass. The road ended here and the mountain that was on the other side of the river was wild jungle. I kept watching for monkeys, but no luck. The plan was then changed and we travelled up, around and down the mountain to another area where we could fish at the river. This area consisted of a small village market area. We drove just beyond the village and walked down to the riverbed. Since it is a dry season and the snow from the mountains is not melting, much of the rocky riverbed is dry. There were people there making gravel, by hand, sifting sand and then loading it with shovels into a dump truck. What hard work. There were women, men and young people all doing this. We all walked across the riverbed to the river. It is still about 20 feet wide, but would be about 60m wide at its fullest. The rocks were all smooth and so varied. We Canadians couldn’t wait to stick our feet into the turquoise water, but we couldn’t swim because the current was way too fast. The water wasn’t too cold, it didn’t even hurt our toes. Surya, Suresh, Luke, Ella and Jeff took turns fishing, but with no luck. We also skipped rocks and collected the coolest ones. It was a great afternoon. Ella, the 2 teachers, and Serina, the little girl, went for a walk up the riverbed and then had to climb the steep bank to meet up with us at the market area. Unfortunately poor Ella tripped and fell into a stinging nettle bush. The poor kid had about 30 welts on her hand and wrist. It looked like she had been stung by 30 bees and she felt like she had been stung by about 100 bees. We were then invited for another incredible Nepali dinner at the grandmother’s home. As I have said before, we have been treated so wonderfully here.
At the hindu Temple:
Down on the river bed:
New School Uniforms:
Today is Sunday and the first school day of the week. The kids have their school uniforms now and the kids were thrilled to see them arrive in them. The school is full again and life has gone back to normal here, with the elections finished. There are about 90 students at the school who are currently being allowed to attend for free. It would be greatly appreciated if they could have them sponsored to help cover the cost of the uniforms, supplies and teachers. Surya says that he will not turn anyone away. I have noticed that there are some students who do not have lunches with them. Upon discussing this with Surya we, as a family, have decided that we will provide lunch for 10 of the students daily. 6 of them being from the orphanage in the village. After school today we drove the boys to the orphanage and another smaller boy to his home. We have already given the young boy a coat and his response to his new coat was priceless! He immediately gave a toothy grin and put his hands into the “I love you”, “Rock On!” sign. His home is a simple, brick structure with a dirt floor. He just wanted me to take lots of pictures of his goat, who is his buddy. Tomorrow we will take him to the market and buy him new shoes, a backpack and a toque. Surya says it is best to buy him items, instead of giving his family money. This way the money will go to the things he needs. He too, will be receiving lunch at school from now on. Next stop was the orphanage, or the “hostel” as the boys call it. 6 of the students live there with 6 other boys. They take care of each other. There is no adult who stays with them. They are given rice, from the government and they have a small garden of vegetables that they take care of themselves. They have rice for breakfast and for dinner. They do the cooking, cleaning and laundry themselves. They have metal bunk beds and their rooms are so tidy. They have to get up, get dressed, eat and get off to school on their own daily. The school has provided them with their uniforms and books. They are great boys. They are well behaved and smart. We spent some time talking to them about their past. I am so impressed with how responsible and self motivated they are. I also admire how they take care of each other – they are each other’s family.
We only have 2 weeks left in this beautiful country and I am afraid it is going to fly by as quickly as the first 2. However, our views on life will be altered forever.