The taxi driver stopped in front of a slope of rocks and stones that we had to ascend like a staircase to our new home stay. Emre and I walked up to our one-story abode, which was situated high up on a mountain that overlooked Fewa Lake and the city side of Pokhara. There, a Nepali family was waiting our arrival. Husband and wife, Aatma and Mina, and their three children Amisha, Amish, and Aakash.
“Namaste!” they said as they put their palms together in front of their chests, as if they were about to begin a prayer.
We were happily greeted, as we walked past a stable with a buffalo and a calf of some sort, lazily chomping on straw grass.
The house is small, but it works. It’s painted in a lime green and pink on the outside.
There are four rooms. One of the rooms has three beds for the volunteers. Then you have a family room, and two other bedrooms. The bathroom consisted of four walls, a roof, and a hole in the floor as the toilet. There laid a bucket to use as the toilet’s flush mechanism.
We were secluded on the mountain, away from Pokhara city and away from the other volunteers. No internet, bars, restaurants, shops, and hot water. We also had to deal with unreliable electricity that shuts off for about eight hours everyday. This was going to be a really authentic Nepali style home stay; more authentic and rustic than any other home stay that I have ever lived in.
Aatma is the father and head of the household. He is also the principal of the school I will be teaching at. His English is good, not the best, but you can understand most of the things he says.
His wife Mina is very pleasant and always has a smile on her face (except for in the picture below!). You can always find her outside cleaning or preparing a meal.
Their oldest daughter Amisha is 14 years old and so far I think she speaks the best English in the entire house.
The middle son is Amish, he’s 11 and is super bright and is my go-to guy when I have a question about what the heck is going on around here.
Then there’s the energetic youngest child, Aakash who is 5 years old. He has too much energy and has the loudest voice I’ve ever heard from a kid his age! He’s a pretty funny little guy though and has the biggest doe eyes that liven his whole persona as the wild child baby of the family.
I also met our third volunteer roommate, Tim (France). He’s been here for a few days by himself already and I think he was glad to have company now. I don’t blame him, I would have gone crazy after a few days alone, as there is nothing to do up here besides maybe hiking around the mountains. If I were alone, I would say “Maybe I can nap?”. Here it’s almost impossible. The walls are so thin that you can hear a pin drop outside, not to mention Aakash’s high-pitched voice that carries itself across the Himalayas. All members of the family tend to come into our room whenever they want because our room is also their closet for clothes and storage for necessary school books. No privacy for six weeks! I honestly don’t really need it, save for the occasional naps that I obviously won’t be getting. It’s okay. It’s all part of the experience.
It was already time for dinner and our entree for the day was something called Dal Bhat. It’s rice, with mixed veggies and potatoes with a very light curry sauce you pour over the top. It’s pretty good, but the only problem is that we will be eating this for breakfast and dinner…every…single…day! The people on this mountain have been eating this everyday for their entire lives, so I think I will be able to survive six weeks. Thankfully, it tastes great but hopefully it won’t make me despise rice and veggies after I leave here. Another thing, the Nepali eat everything with their bare hands. No matter how soupy are mushy something is, all they need are their fingers. You should see the way they scoop, pile, and grab; with such vigor and no thought, it’s second nature to them. As of now, I’ll be eating with a spoon because who knows what kind of new foreign bacteria I’ve acquired on my hands here. I’ll let my body adjust, build up some antibodies, and then I’ll join in and feast with my bare hands. Maybe.
Even though we’re further away from the city, you can’t really beat the views you get from the mountain top.
The countryside air up here is fresh and much needed; a huge contrast from the smog down below. However the danger up here is a bit more imminent. Bengal tigers, killer wasps, venomous snakes, and God knows what other beasts live on this mountain. I have to mention that the bugs up here are monstrous! I’ll go into detail about the bugs that live with us on a later post. Yup, I’m living the simple life up here and it’s pretty great! It took about a couple of hours or so to fully accept that I would be living here for more than a month. I’ll be without my regular western style amenities and learn to rough it again for awhile. Based off past home stays, I was expecting a little more, but this is fine the way it is.
Tomorrow we’ll begin the first day at the school where I’ll be teaching in. 🙂