The past several days have been somewhat low-key, as I have been sick with a fever off and on. As a result, there hasn’t been too much going on at Ghar Hughbanks that has been worth reporting.
But all of that will change very soon! Tomorrow, Emily, Edge of Seven’s program director arrives in Kathmandu, and the first group of volunteers will be here next week. We’ll be headed back up into the mountains on Nov. 22. I will stay with the volunteers through the end of the month, and Travis will be there for 5+ weeks. Hopefully, we can get a blog post out of him before he leaves in a few days.
We did manage to recently make a quick trip up to Pokhara, the base city for all of the Annapurna Range treks, one of the most popular trekking areas in Nepal. After being in Kathmandu for so long, Pokhara felt a little bit like heaven.
Situated on a big lake with snow-peaked mountains all around, it is extremely laid back and lacking all of the pollution of the capital city. Granted, it is also swarmed by tourists, which may not be an experience everyone is seeking when coming to Nepal, but it’s still a nice respite. The tourist industry has given rise to quite a few good restaurants and makes for an excellent people watching scene. Most Westerners in Pokhara are guaranteed to have at least one of two looks going on: spiffy, high-tech hiking pants and a walking stick or dreadlocks and patchwork clothing.
The main purpose of our trip was to meet with the women’s collective I have been working with on Sapana Bags. It was really inspiring to see their shop and talk with the founder, Tara, who is an incredible woman doing a lot for women in her community. (More on this to come.)
Women weaving material for handbags in Pokhara.
We also got to spend some time with our friend Bikash, the brother of our good friend Binod. Bikash runs Natures Grace Lodge, a cozy hotel tucked away off the main street. Last year, we stayed there for several days during the May 2010 Maoist strike, so having Dal Bhat with Bikash and his cousin Ganga in the Nature’s Grace kitchen this week most definitely brought back memories from that time.
Nature's Grace Lodge in Pokhara!
Aside from that, we’ve had several good meetings in Kathmandu, finally ate lunch at Nina and Hager, a deli across from the U.S. Embassy that has terrific sandwiches/burgers and has been recommended by pretty much everyone we’ve come into contact with in Kathmandu, went to a documentary screening about Monsanto’s move into Nepal (a big deal that has the potential to be very harmful to Nepali farmers), and have even made a few friends.
Lastly, and I don’t believe I have mentioned this on the blog before (though I have told the story to many people), but there has been another pigeon incident. Those of you who know me may know about my pigeon aversion, second only in severity to my rat phobia. During our first week here we were having a snack at a restaurant in Thamel and sitting at a table by the windows, which were open to let in the breeze. As we were close to finishing our food, a sick pigeon with an open sore on its head flew in the window and landed on our table. We tried to shoo it away, but it didn’t respond. Instead it stumbled across the table, walked into our plate of hummus, and sat down. I jumped out of my seat and screamed a little, which the men sitting behind us found hilarious. “What?!” they yelled at me. “This has never happened to you before?”
Well, today I went out to the balcony to do a little laundry and there was a big, dead pigeon in the outside sink. Travis tried to get me to suck it up and dispose of the body myself, as I need to learn to deal with these things, but I just didn’t think so. Next time, I’m sure I will have more courage.