Nell’s Nepalese Adventure
By Nell McInerney
March 24th: To start off the trip, we flew from Seattle to San Francisco, San Fran. To Hong Kong, Hong Kong to Kathmandu then drove to Patan. The flight to San Fran went pretty fast. We ended up leaving about 10 minutes early. I am anxious to see Hong Kong & get on the flight to Kathmandu, but at the same time, I am enjoying relaxing, reading & writing. It was hard for me to part with my phone & have no contact with friends but this is good for my mind to find creative ways to be entertained. It will be exciting to come home to friends & family & tell my stories.
March 24 12:40 AM: I am still on the flight to Hong Kong. I’m in good spirits but at the same time trying to relax & not think about being on this plane. I know we are close.
March 25 1:28 PM: The flight to Kathmandu went smoothly. I was sore & tired but still positive when we arrived. We had to turn in several different kinds of information before we left the airport to let them know what we were taking in to Kathmandu. When we got our luggage we discovered that Katie’s big bag had not arrived to Kathmandu yet. For the time being, I lent her clothing. Some of the Rotaracters of Nepal greeted us at a van as we left the airport. They gave us welcoming scarves & went with us in the van to our hotels. A few of them went with us throughout the whole trip showing us around Nepal & teaching us about the culture.
The first night at our hostel I slept ok. Dogs were barking & cars were making noises. I woke up the next morning around 6 to dogs still barking, birds chirping & other noises. After I got dressed, I was welcomed with French toast, sweet tea, & satsumas. It was decent. We are now waiting to go to The Center for The Deaf & The Wheelchair Center. The family that lives at our hostel is very active. The mother & kids yell at each other but not in a mean way, they’re just noisy. I am not use to that living style.
We went into the town of Patan & there were buildings all mixed together: Schools, houses, shopping centers & medical buildings all in a row. We went to see The Disability Center & The Wheelchair Center. A few people who are a part of The Wheelchair Center spoke to us about their stories. A woman named Jamuna permanently damaged her leg in an accident. A man had their version of a prosthetic leg & another man was disfigured at age two & now in a wheelchair. My group shared our thoughts about the center & Katie & I shared about The Venture Program. I think that it’s amazing that they make their own wheelchairs out of recycled bicycles. It’s wonderful that people in Nepal have begun to advocate for the disabled community. Traditionally, a disability is seen as a curse in the Asian Culture.
We are now on our way to a bakery for lunch. I feel like a celebrity with the video camera filming us all the time & traveling around Nepal in a huge van. Everyone watches us. People gather around us & star at the video camera. We are now at the bakery café. The staff at this café is all hearing & language impaired. We have to point to what we want to order because most of do not know Nepalese sign language. There isn’t anything like this in Seattle. This is amazing & great to be a part of. I’m having a chicken & cheese sandwich & a lassie. Lassie is a milk beverage with sugar. It comes in Chocolate, fruit flavors or plain. Chocolate & banana are the most popular flavors.
We are now at The School for the Deaf. There are 30 students in total but only 15-20 right now because it’s a holiday today. It’s a very peaceful place. The students are shy but nice as well. They warmed up to as we went on. They know a lot of games. They are also advanced with hearing aids. We shared games & wrote our names in Davenegri (Nepalese) & in English. After we left the school we went sight seeing around Debar Square & it was madness! Vehicles & people filled the streets & side walks. There are practically no cross walks, no streetlights & nothing to divide vehicles into separate lanes. We even saw cows & goats walking around & laying in the square. There are police monitoring the streets but it’s still chaos!
6:30 PM: We are finally heading home for dinner. A couple of us went to the Nepalese version of Wal-Mart after dinner. After that I was exhausted from the day & went to bed around 9:00.
March 26: I tossed & turned throughout the night with the feeling of sharp pains in my stomach. Thankfully, it is gone now & I am ready for breakfast. After breakfast we organized things to take to children at 3 different places. We then went to The School for Disability Rehab. The kids ranged in age. I made a fast friend named Manshara. She is so sweet. She did my hair, painted my fingernails, & told me about her family. She wrote to me in my journal & she & some other wrote their names in Nepalese & English for me. All of the kids at this center are so impressive with their art, vocabulary & Writing. They all can write & speak Nepalese & English. I didn’t know how much English they would know. I got a tour of the center from Manshara. They were sad that we had to leave, it wasn’t easy to do.
After going to The School for Disability Rehab, we went to The Patan Community Based Rehab Organization. There, we did art with the kids. I drew a house & an abstract. The people were quieter at PCBRO, but they were happy to be there with us. I was especially impressed with a boy in a wheelchair who was paralyzed. He drew & painted with his mouth. After our time with the patients, we had a meeting with some of the Rotarians (member of Rotaract). I feel honored & happy to be a part of this experience 🙂 We are now heading back to our hostel then splitting up into 3 different groups to visit the homes of some of the Rotaracters of Nepal.
6:15 PM: We are sitting at a little coffee shop now while we wait for the Rotaracters to come. Jenny, David, Marilyn & I went with Samesh & Sachin to Sachin’s house. They are cousins. We went through Narrow allies filled with shops & houses. We had to pass through traffic which is nerve racking especially when it is dark outside & we just had flash lights guiding out paths. When we go to the house we had tea by candlelight & talked about a lot: Our families, Nepal VS. U.S & so many other things. Sachin’s father makes metal Buda’s & there are 2 huge Buda’s along with other statues & things in a prayer room on the roof of their house. We went to see it before dinner. It was amazing. I felt this sacred energy as I entered that room. I thought of my friends & family. I wished everyone well & hoped they were all in a safe & happy. After getting that incredible honor, we had an incredible dinner. The women cooked (with a little assistance from Jenny & I). The Women also served us what seemed to be an endless feast. I felt like royalty but at the same time, things were relaxed & casual. Sachin’s father gave us all an eye maze poster & postcards that he usually sells. We gave Sachin & Samesh Seattle post cards, hats, shirts & Dilettante chocolates. I felt sick throughout the night. I might be dehydrated.
7:45 AM: I’m feeling all right now. I’m ready for breakfast. We had a combination of veggies & egg along with bread. I’ve felt zoned out today but I am tough. Once we got out I felt more alert. We went to a Rotary/Rotaract meeting at what use to be a school. We introduced ourselves, read a poem, and then took group photos. After the meeting, we went with our Nepal leaders to 1 of the Rotary/Rotaract offices & they spoke more about what Rotaract Clubs do. We had lunch at a famous café (café Nepal I think it was). I had the chicken sizzler & it was AWSOME! I am now full & glad we are walking around again soon. We went around Debar Square & went into a beautiful museum. It had statues 7 other famous monuments. We then did some site seeing before dinner. For dinner, we went to a great café & Sachin played music for us with his band The Blues Society. They were really good! 🙂
March 28th: We went to Mr. Pushkar’s home. He is a member of the Rotary Club of Patan. We had tea & talked then went to another part of his house where some of the women of the family was. The Women make & sell several different items made out of felt. Jerry bought me a lovely orange & red scarf. We did some fashion shows of our new items & clothing. After being at Mr. Pushta’s home, we went to what is the largest peace stupa in the world. A peace stupa is like temples accept rather then going in a building to pray, there is an inside & outside part to walk around in & pray on. There are several prayer wheels on this structure. You spin them for prayer to be answered. Along with the prayer wheels, there are thousands of prayer flags hung up above the peace stupa. Those fly in the wind & answer prayers. We hung up flags & wrote our family names & several other important names to us like Rotaract & BC.
March 29th: We went to the Center for the Mentally Disabled. There we watched them perform along with The Blues Society & Anil who is another member of the Nepal Rotary Club 🙂 My U.S Rotaract group taught everyone the hokey pokey & they loved it.
March 30th: We spent 2 days in Pokhara, which is about 6 hours away from Kathmandu. It’s a rural green area. It gave me a different perspective of Nepal. We entertained ourselves on the bus ride with games, story telling, singing & even a little dancing. It was so much fun! 🙂 I am in a hotel room with Marilyn & Jenny. We went to lunch/dinner, which took hours to get to us. We then split into groups for free time. Jenny, Sachin, Zafar, Suresh & I were all in a group. We looked in different shops; there was live music in several different ones. It was fun being able to hang out outside & enjoy the music from there. Jenny, Zafar & I went to a salon while the other guys went to dinner. I got a wonderful massage, Jenny got her nails cleaned & Zafar had a traumatic hair cut. After that we met up with the other guys again, went to another place & had sodas & a jam session. Sachin played the guitar & he & I sang 🙂
March 31st: Today we headed back to Kathmandu. Along the way we went to a lot of different temples. When we got back we went shopping, and then had our final meal with the Rotaracters at a traditional Nepalese restaurant. We started out on an upper level sitting around tables on ground level. There we had drinks & little appetizers. For dinner we moved down stairs to a big table & had many different courses. After dinner we presented the Rotarians with gifts, took pictures & gave a lot of hugs. They helped us come to Nepal & gave us the honor of being a part of the Rotaract Club & I am so thankful for that 🙂
April 1st: Visit to Manakamana Temple. Located in Gorkha District of Nepal. 94 kilometers from Pokhara and 106 kilometers from Kathmandu. Couple of years before it took 5 hours trek to reach the Manakamana Temple. But now a Cable car is operating that will get you there in 15mins.
April 2nd: Nepal School for the Deaf. Visit with Jamuna Subedi, the Project Administrator, for Rotary Nepal 3-H Disability Awareness Campaign. Also our groups visit to the US Embassy.
April 3rd: On the last day in Nepal, we did our last shopping, packed our things then went to a big Rotary/Rotaract conference. I found it quite distracting that people’s phones were ringing the whole time & people were having conversations as well. We in the U.S view that as being rude but it’s how the culture is there.
The Rotaracters who where with us the most: Mahesh, Sachin, Suresh, Jamuna, Bikesh, Pratibha went with us back to our hostel. We got all of our bags together then they gave us a traditional Nepalese goodbye ceremony. The ceremony included: getting a scarf around our neck, a small flower behind the right ear, a dab of yogurt with the ring finger put on the head (the right side for men & the left side for women). We then received a tiny fish, a hard-boiled egg & a little dish of very strong wine. You first eat the fish, then take a bite of egg then a sip of wine & repeat that until the egg is gone.
The Rotarians then proceeded with us on the van to the airport. 😦 On the bus yet again the Rotaracters put another surprise together. There was a Birthday cake for Marilyn complete with lit candles. Birthday cake on a bus, now that’s a first! We got to the airport, said our final good byes & gave hugs all around. I wanted to stay & hug them forever, but we had a flight awaiting and like they said, “this is not the end, it is just the beginning”. I know I will see them again some day but not for a long time. We will always have those memories & share with each other through email.