Going from 429m below sea level to 8,848m above to find the most enchanting people
Occasionally, you forget to look around. At times, whatever's on your mind will prevent you from seeing beyond your thoughts. New feelings and emotions take control of observational attributes. The Himalayas force you to notice what nature has done. Striking features stranglehold towns, and no one has any choice but to respect the majestic views. These formed from our tectonic plates colliding. There was a shift within these plates one year ago.
Breanne and I arrived with excitement and hope in our blood. We'd just left a chaotic situation back in New Delhi, and ventured to another country on a whim. Nepal was close to the region of India we were heading to by Darjeeling, and thought we'd check it out. Of course we wanted to go from the get go, but you can't plan to get to every place.
Without planning to go to Nepal, we only had 3 hiccups within the arrival without visa counter. We got it straightened out, and we were off running.
We were dropped off in front of a house, off the main busy street, through winding roads, a small stream below, and giant hills with monastery's on top of them surrounding the house, and greeted by our host, Saroj.
What a family.
Garden and a small orchard out back that his father and 5 brothers share. Also included are 10 chickens, 1 cow, and a small calf. Mama (as we were told to call her) cooks at least 18 hours a day, or is tending to the chores around. Papa walks around tending to the final sale of his grandfather's decision to sell the small orchard, and pipes in to our conversations for a funny laugh. Two sisters that love to hang out and poke fun at their youngest brother, Saroj. Cousins come and go, and neighborhood kids come for milk from the cow throughout the day.
Saroj, 26 years of age, is in charge of the operation and receives help from his family and volunteers. Volunteers come and go, and even come back to say hello again as we encountered with a young German couple. Their operation holds many different faces. They are apart of a larger organization that helps low income families build their own stable homes from natural elements around them. Now that the orchard has been sold, we've been tasked with chopping down trees, chopping them into smaller pieces, and stacking piles for furniture making, firewood, and compost. Also, helping in the kitchen is huge.
I was finally able to make a meal. Mama was more than helpful. I needed a night before I just hopped in first day and began cooking, so I monitored and shadowed Mama and her cooking; what pots and pans she used, spices we had available, as well as anything I could get my hands on from the garden. This turned out to be fresh eggplant, garlic, onion, lemongrass, and cilantro for the finish. Used their lentils, Masala spice mix, and olive oil. I had to head out to pick up carrot, coconut milk, a really spicy green chili recommended from the stand I bought it from, and a salty and savory spice blend to counteract the Masala spice mix she had. Also grabbed vinegar, sugar snap peas, and fresh mandarins for a bright little salad before the meal. Everything came together, and worked really well. Mama did not like it, as Saroj told me later. She doesn't like sweet things.
The work in the yard was rewarding. With traveling as much as we've been, it felt good to put your head down and sweat a bit. They also have help from a man named Yaam that's from a village 20 hours away, and goes back every 3 months to see his family. Has the warmest smile I've ever encountered, and helps out immensely with his hard work and talent.
We broke bread every breakfast, lunch, and dinner with the family. Went next door for the local moonshine they call Raksi. Went to a free 2 hour yoga session the first day, that consisted of a lot of shenanigans. I only laughed once, and that was because I thought about what my brothers would think in the same class. For instance, at one point we were on our hands and knees, lowered our head, stuck out our tongue, opened our mouth very wide, and screamed as a tiger would scream.
The volunteers and Saroj would gather on the rooftop at night. After working in the yard, prepping vegetables, helping cook, and cleaning the kitchen, we'd all be ready for a little drink, some traditional and current Nepalese music, and hanging out. On the last night, I thought I might get an answer to a question I was pondering since I met him. I asked him where he was when the earthquake happened less than 2 years ago.
He said he was in his room he shared with his two sisters, and he did what we've all been taught since we were little. Get in a door-frame. He said luckily no one was hurt. "But I carried out a dead body just over there," he pointed just up the hill a little ways. "He was covered with you know, soil, rocks, and stuff up to here," and pointed at his neck. "It was terrible."
The Nepali people have more than they realize. As they throw out terms such as "the dream is to move to Europe, New Zealand or America", they should know that the travelers from these countries come through Nepal looking for knowledge on how we should live better lives. We have more than we need, and we're still unhappy. The majority of Nepali people have no hot water, manual plumbing, electricity wavers, roads are mostly rubble, and they're still so kind to one another and guests. The joy that is found among those that indeed have very little in the form of so called luxuries, is beyond amazing. We want what Nepali people have. It should never be the other way around.