Wow! So much has happened this week I don’t even know where to begin. I spent Saturday through Tuesday in Kathmandu, then took a 9 hour bus ride (5 hour nepali time) to Pokhara up in the Himalayas. I am now, quite literally, sitting on the top of the world in a tiny little village located at the very peak of a very massive mountain. The village name is Sarangkot and this is where I will live for the next month.
I like to consider myself well traveled, and I think I can honestly say I have never truly experienced culture shock until yesterday. Oh. Man. After arriving in Pokhara, myself and the 10 other volunteers were all whisked away to our various home stays with nothing more than a few seconds for goodbyes. It was monsooning, so I guess I understand the rush. A ‘taxi’ who also happens to be the neighbor of my homestay family, drove me up the 20 km dirt/rock path to the village. Not before taking a detour to pick his daughter up at school, then a pit stop to pick his cousin’s aunt (I think) up from the side of the road. 30 minutes later, we pull over to the side of the road where my homestay “brother” meets me and tells me this is the way to my home. uhh, I don’t see a path anywhere. So, he puts BOTH my suitcases on his head and leads the way. The “way” is climbing down rocks that have basically turned into a waterfull and then balancing one foot behind the other between rice paddies. I only fell ONCE, woo! He, however, fell zero time and neither did my bags. What the heck!
We take a quick corner behind a “buliding”, where there are some cows hanging in a little hut around their feeed. “This is your home!” my brother Krishna says. He’s serious. The next room over is where my host my parents will sleep, and the one after that is mine, then the kitchen. So my housemates are cows, yes. Oh and goats and chickens I discovered this morning. I unloaded my stuff and Krishna offered me a seat on a grass mat. Luxury. Then he says “oh, don’t forget to check for leeches”. WHAT. Now I see a leech, swelling up from his feast on my ankle. This is the second time I cry since leaving Boston. I cry because I have no idea what I have signed up for. Where is the water for me to drink? Seriously, I have a leech on my leg? I just walked 20 minutes through a rice paddy to find my home occupied by cattle. I cry because the mother and father speak no english. And Krishna is leaving me in a few minutes to return to his family in Pokhara. I hide my tears (I hope) but they keep coming and I am doing everything I can to stop them. Krishna leaves me and tell me everything will be good, just be patient, text me if you need help with nepali. Oh, okay, sounds easy. Then auma (my host mother) offers me tea, I move my straw mat to the kitchen and sit on the dirt by the fire. The tea is like magic and I instantly feel better. This isn’t forever, they are kind, and they have like this their whole lives. I decide I will survive.
This morning I wake up happy, and take a “shower” in the public faucet fully clothed in my awkward excuse for a sarong. The neighbors are excited and come and greet me, seriously someone needs to invent a shower curtain in this country. I have rice and lentils for breakfast and go to the health clinic. More on that another day!
Anyways, all is well, despite being crazy and weird and completely foreign to me. But I will enjoy, and I am! It is beautiful, I can’t wait to post some pictures. Now I am sitting in a little cafe on the tippy top of the hill… which I nearly had a heart attack and must have climbed at least 6,000 steps. But it is the cutest and I will come here when I need a cold beer and a good view! Got to get going before my family worries I am late, I don’t think I had any success explaining my hunt for internet would be taking place after work and I would be home for dinner. Oh well.