Tales of a Volunteer Currently in Nepal by Susan

Susan is one of our volunteers from Colorado currently building a dorm for 40 girls in Salleri, Nepal.  She agreed to fill us in on her initial reactions to Kathmandu upon arrival and her thoughts after two weeks at the project site.  This post is from Susan’s arrival just one week ago.   The group has been at the project site for six days and are happy, healthy, and making great progress on the hostel.  You are able to follow Susan’s blogging at http://susansnepaladventure2011.blogspot.com

Sunday May 29th

OMG!  I’m in Kathmandu, Nepal.  It is so amazing – different – culturally amazing.  I was able to get a few pictures of the BIG mountain, that would be Everest.  We were flying at 35,000 feet and it was sticking up above the clouds showing its glory to the warmth of the sun.  Now all I have to do is get it from the camera to the computer.  Hopefully next blog.  Amazing, ok, I’ll find a new word.  The trip from Brussels to New Delhi was an 18 hour flight from boarding to deplaning.  How many hours did Shakelton spend at the bow of the ship waiting for Antarctica to appear on the horizon.  We really do have it good.  We were presented with friendship scarves when we arrived and it will be treasured for a very long time.  Kathmandu is so crowded and colorful, it is both scary and intriguing.  I won’t be going out walking by myself, because the maze that is the city is populated by drivers, of cars, bikes, rickshaws, and motorbikes, who use the horn as the first rule of travel. I have yet to see a dented fender or a pedestrian collision, but it is one exciting ride in a taxi in the rain.

The hotel we’re in has the most beautiful carved wood and plaster ceilings with florets and leaves pressed into them.  It was not what I expected at all.  The staff is so very friendly and seems to want to give you the best service possible.  It’s being renovated in the patio area and there was a woman working on the stone floor with an ancient looking tool, making it just so.  The Nepalese I’ve met take a lot of pride in the work that they do.

Reading this over, it sounds fragmented, but then that might have something to do with sleeping for 2 hours at a time for the past 3 days.  Tonight will be different.  I have a bed as hard as the surrounding mountains to sleep on and the silence of the city to lull me to sleep – let’s not forget, those who drive by the horn.

Tomorrow the rest of the group gets here and we have orientation then go out for a tour.  By the way we bought sleeping bags and pads, they were about 1/3 the cost of what I saw at REI and Sports Authority and the lady was pleased as she could be to sell them to us for that price – you were so right Chuck.

Monday May 30th

Today was an education in Buddhist temples and Nepal culture.  The city is very large and busy.  The odors, the noise, the large number of shops and people became more than a bit overwhelming.  Our guide was very knowledgeable and we learned much.  It was very tiring and we were more than glad to get back to the hotel for a short rest before dinner.

Susan (2nd to left) eats traditional Nepali dal bhat with the other volunteers when she arrives.

At dinner we had the option of food from Nepal, China, India and Tibet.  I had vegetable momo soup which is a type of dumpling soup, very good.  Jerry chose a pork chow mein because we have had very little protein.  It was all interesting.  We talked about where were going and what we’re going to be doing and I can hardly wait.  We did what is called High and Low where we each told what we have enjoyed the most and the least.  The least was the smells of Kathmandu, open sewers, cows, dogs (which are all neutered) open sewers, people who don’t seem to value the concept of showers, and the ever present smell of incense.   The highs included meeting each other, 2 who have just finished their freshman year at college, one mechanical engineer for Apple, a solar energy person, a person who has run treks in South America, and the US, myself and Jerry.  5 women, 2 men, you guess whose who.  There are also two Sherpas and Karma Sherpa’s wife who were at dinner.  A very diverse and interesting group all around.

We also received or rather volunteered for duties that will change daily.  Jerry will be in charge of lost and found, which means he’ll check the rooms, the bus, and the plane for any objects that may have been left behind inadvertently.  I am in charge of health, which means I ask everyone individually how they are feeling at different points in the day.

We leave at 7 am for the Kathmandu airport where we will take off in a twin otter and head for the eastern Himalayan mountain town of Solari (I know I have spelled totally wrong, sorry.)  We will go to the work site and then later in the day we will meet the families we will be staying with for the next two weeks.

Let the adventure begin.

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