Sunday, August 3, 2014

Bizarre Trip to Gorkha Bazaar

(Originally written on July 31)

We have returned safely from our trip to Gorkha district, which is quite a feat in itself. On the way back, our teacher, Christine Stone, told us that the road between Gorkha and Kathmandu sees an average of one accident per day. And just after that, we passed a spot where a vehicle had flipped over the guardrail into the swollen river below (although it appeared that the passengers made it out before it went over). Cliffside driving is especially nerve-wracking here because no one stays in their own lanes—and in many spots, there are no guardrails. Just a sheer drop. 

Anyway, Gorkha was an experience. We were there to visit three of our possible school assignments and to meet their respective host families. On the drive—one of the most beautiful I have ever experienced—we even caught a brief glimpse of a snowcapped peak through heavy cloud cover. We stopped for lunch at a dhaal bhaat place with a great view of the Manakamana cable car. And that is where things started to go wrong. 

At first, I thought it was a spot of indigestion, so after we arrived at our charming hotel, I went down to Nepali class, where a general feeling of “unwellness” gradually descended. Within an hour and a half, I was too sick to do anything except lay on my bed, and sleep did not grace me with its presence until 4:30 am.

In the morning, I was deemed too weary and dehydrated to visit the schools, so I slept, and I slept hard. Within a few more hours, my illness had passed, and rehydration began. My gratitude goes out to the other ETAs, especially Lisa, my roommate for the trip. They took care of me, and after a dinner of rice (which is luckily plentiful in Nepal), they gave me a photo-assisted presentation on the schools. 

The next day I made the foolish to climb with the others to Gorkha Durbar (Palace). Christine quoted the number of stairs at around 700, but it felt never-ending. I reached the top a full 20 minutes behind Christine (who is exceedingly athletic for being over 80), and my clothes were disgustingly saturated with sweat. So it goes when climbing after being ill. 

It was worth it. I caught one perfect glimpse of one perfect Himalayan peak, and I am not at all embarrassed that a few tears sprang to my eyes. Robin, our boss of sorts, said that it is better to be teased by the mountains now, so that we will appreciate the full view even more when it finally appears around November. 

Interesting Sightings:

-black rubber pipes stretched across the river, used by kids either scootching along on their behinds or crawling on their bellies

-young boys offering baskets of pickles, popcorn, and papads to passengers on tourist buses, hoping for a few rupees

-sacred cows in carts, apparently with a few extra legs

-Coca-Cola truly is everywhere

Manakamana Cable Car - leads to a temple once only accessible by a day-long, grueling hike

The monsoon paints the countryside green.

It's common to see signs like this near temples. Often with similar adorable typos.

Look in the middle, at the glowing white that isn't a cloud.

Apparently, the flag of Nepal is the only national flag that is not a rectangle.

The ever-present "om."

Where are these "perfect feet"?

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