Outlanderings

Adventures of Two Americans Living and Working in Nepal

Archive for the category “Life”

Happy Mother’s Day from Sun Valley, Idaho!

Celebrated Mother’s Day today with Travis’ mom and dad – Nancy and Fineas – in Sun Valley, Idaho. Such a lovely day. It’s nice to be home!

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Farewell for Now, Nepal!

It’s hard to believe this day is actually here, but today Travis and I fly out of Kathmandu on a 40+ hour journey back to the U.S. Though we had originally planned to stay in Nepal through June, with the Edge of Seven and The Small World projects in great shape and my work at Next Generation Nepal wrapped up, we made a split-second decision a few weeks ago to head back a little early so we could make it to a few of our dearest friends’ weddings that we would have been so sad to miss.

So, where to begin? This has been an incredible journey. And I know I speak for both of us when I say that we are beyond grateful to have met all of the amazing and inspiring people who have crossed our paths during our time in Nepal. We’re also beyond grateful to have had the opportunity to spend our days working with organizations that are doing so much good in this country.

I can’t say I am not bursting at the seams a bit to get home, eat a taco, and soak in the uninterrupted flow of electricity and clean drinking water, but leaving is definitely bittersweet. For all of the hardships life in Nepal contains, there is also an unending beauty that can strike a person even on the most chaotic street of Kathmandu. And from the kids I worked with in Kathmandu to the teachers and elders of Phuleli and Basa, many new lessons and perspectives on life have been gained. As with my previous trips here before, I leave having once again been strengthened by people who live life with exuberant joy and light despite having been through extremely difficult situations.

And the deal with the blog is that we plan to keep it going. Being officially homeless at the moment, we still have many travels and unknowns in front of us. Plus, our schedules and lack of Internet access over the past couple of months have made it difficult to update this blog in the most timely of manners, and I think we could both benefit from some time to decompress and process everything that has happened during our time here. So, look for more updates and photos about our work in Nepal to come!

Farewell for now, Nepal! We’ll see you again someday soon.

Wedding in Nepal

Recently, we had the honor of attending the Nepal ceremony for the marriage of our good friends Erin and Binod in Kaski, Nepal. It was a an amazing day, and we are so happy we were able to be in Nepal for the occasion. Now, on to more celebrations in the States!

Congrats, E + B!

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Out and About Kathmandu: Part II

So, I’ve been a little MIA lately on this blog. Lots going on and many new updates to come, but for now just wanted to share some photos of life out and about in Kathmandu!

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The Girl in the Yellow Sari

A few times a week, Travis and I go for a run through the fields and hills behind our apartment in Kathmandu. Our main route is to head down through the green fields where the local women are usually at work planting or harvesting their crops and then up the mountain road that leads to the Kopan Monastery, Kathmandu’s biggest (and most beautiful). The best time of day to do this run is between 4 and 5 p.m., when the sun is starting to go down just a little and the light brings out the bright colors that dot the rural landscape. It’s a rare part of Kathmandu that could actually be described as “picturesque”.

Today, I went for the run solo and reached the top of the hill around 4:30 p.m., making the usual U-turn at the monastery. Not too far into my descent down the mountain, I caught a glimpse of a little girl, maybe 8 or 9 years old, wearing a beautiful, flowing sari in the brightest color of yellow I had ever seen. The sari was a bit dressier than what is typically worn for “everyday” in Nepal, so I figured the girl must be coming from or going to a celebration for one of the religious festivals occurring this week. The way the light was hitting her sari against the green of the fields below was really striking, and I briefly thought how I wished I had my camera on me.

I continued jogging downhill and passed her. Since the volume of my iPod was up pretty high, I couldn’t hear much aside from the music blaring in my ears. But a few seconds after passing this girl, I started to feel heavy vibrations through the concrete of someone’s feet pounding the pavement behind me. I turned my head and saw a small shadow creeping up on mine. This little girl in the bright yellow sari – and dress shoes, I might add – was chasing me.

I turned to look back at her and she gave me a huge grin, her sari flowing in the wind over her head. She picked up the speed and took the lead, her pink dress shoes flopping a little off her heels with each step as she pulled ahead of me.

Scratch that. This little girl in the bright yellow sari – and dress shoes – was racing me.

I kept my pace and stayed behind her. She kept turning to look at me with her big smile. We continued like this until we reached the fork at the bottom of the hill and she stopped, clearly headed in a different direction. “You win!” I said, running by. She just laughed and waved at me as I continued on home.

Best run yet.

Shivaratri at Pashupatinath Temple

Another day in Nepal, another festival celebrated.

Yesterday was the Hindu festival of Shivaratri, a day where devotees give blessings, offerings and worship to the Hindu God Shiva. It’s an especially special day in Kathmandu, since the city is home to the Pashupatinath Temple, located on the banks of the Bagmati River, where Shiva is believed to once have lived.

The temple is a sacred pilgrimage site for Hindu holy men, or “sadhus,” who come in by the droves from India to celebrate the festival. Some photos taken at Pashupati yesterday!

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Breaking News: The Phuleli School is Complete!

This just in: Save for a few small details, the new, earthbag school in Phuleli is finished! We just received word and photos that the students moved in to the classroom space this week.

We’ll be headed back to the field very soon, so more pictures to come. Thanks to all for your support toward making this school a reality!

The newly completed school is the white building with the blue roof.

The students of Phuleli settling in for class in the new building!

Returning from India

So, we’ve been out of pocket for the past week or so, traveling through Rajasthan, Agra and Delhi in India. It was a nice break from Kathmandu and so refreshing to be able to turn on a light and charge a battery at any point of the day or night.

In addition to the striking scenery, I also loved the bold color and spirituality of all the places we visited. I’ll get more photos posted soon, but for now wanted to share a picture of this sweet man we encountered in Udaipur. I was a little obsessed with taking photos at the Jagdish Temple there, which is a hub of bright activity in the mornings (and also the town’s soup kitchen.) This man was there every morning, circling the temple and praying.

 

Gas Crisis in Nepal

Just a little bit of harder news from Nepal. Headlines here in recent days have been heavily focused on the country’s recent gas crisis, stemming from the government’s financial inability to import enough gas to meet the country’s needs. In addition to the  shortage of fuel, which has caused drivers to wait for more than 4 hours in line at local gas stations, there have also been some very controversial price hikes. Today, Nepal student unions enforced a bandha, shutting down the whole city once again.

Bandhas coupled with massive power outages (given that our loadshedding is now up to 14 hours a day) create some major challenges for everyone in Nepal in terms of getting things done. Luckily, today was beautiful, sunny and warm, so most people took to the streets to socialize. (Travis and I used it as an opportunity to initiate a pick-up game of soccer with the NGN kids, which was great fun even if my team lost.)

Here’s a recent photo of some people waiting in a gas line. I have to say the angle doesn’t do it total justice, as people were wrapped around the block.

 

People waiting in line for gas in Kathmandu. January 2012.

 

“Big in Nepal”

All you Tom Waits fans out there are probably familiar with one of his more well-known songs, “Big in Japan.” Well, if Travis ever gets into the songwriting business, he’ll have to do a cover of that song and just swap out “Japan” for “Nepal”.

Yesterday, Travis was interviewed by Sagarmatha TV, a Nepalese television network, for a 7-minute piece they are doing on earthbag construction in Nepal and the Edge of Seven and The Small World school project in Phuleli. Pretty cool stuff. Karma Sherpa, the head of TSW, was also supposed to be interviewed, but is away right now in the US. Sonam Sherpa (pictured) was a huge help facilitating the interview, translating, and hosting at the TSW offices.

We’ll be sure to post the piece here once it’s finished, if it’s available online. In the meantime, I’ll just focus on not letting all the fame go to Travis’ head.

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