I wasn’t ready to leave Nepal. Nor did I want to.
I’ve been here for the past three months–much longer than I originally anticipated. I must continue my quest for the seven continents. I had to leave soon though, mainly because my 90-day visa was going to expire.
While in Nepal, I never once felt like I was a traveler. Instead, I felt as if I lived here, minus the fact that I didn’t know the language. I was picking up words and phrases to get me around. Still, I felt so at home, that I forgot at times that I was in the midst of a worldwide adventure. The people here were so accommodating, so caring, and so interested in me and my stories; it felt like I was part of a giant family. I already mentioned that I gained a few Nepalese brothers recently. It’s a great thing!
I spent my last couple of weeks absorbing the culture in my village to the max! While doing so, I was able to share the rich experience with a new friend by the name of Miek (Belgium). She was referred to me by a mutual friend who lived in Australia. Basically, I was recruited to show her some authentic culture outside of the bigger cities, and I was more than happy to do so.
Samir and I went to retrieve Miek down in Lakeside to meet and introduce ourselves. One of my student’s father, Hom, joined and escorted all of us back to the mountain and to his home with his family. Hom’s home was initially ruptured by aftershocks from the earthquake that shook Nepal two years ago. Overtime, gracious travelers he’s met has helped him build a brand new home for him and his family–his gracious wife Bishnu, and his two sons, Sudip and Susan. They made a dal bhat supper for us and then invited to stay the night with his family.
The next day, I planned on showing Miek more of the village. I took her a little bit up the mountain to my brothers’, UK and DJ, and then over to Aatma’s home, where she would be staying a couple of nights. I was able to show her not only the private school that I taught at, but also the neighboring government school. Although I didn’t teach there, I created a bit of a friendly rivalry with the school, much thanks to the Holi holiday that came and went. I had the free reign to enter the school much to my liking. If you are a native English speaker, then you are a valuable necessity to any school in these parts.
We went to the nearby shop (where I often frequented to buy water and snacks) to introduce Miek to some of the best samosa’s around. We still had plenty of time in the day, so I took her 40 minutes up to the very top of the mountain, Sarangkot, to explore.
Now, Sarangkot is quite different from the rest of the village. It’s way more touristy and filled with half-completed hotels, dozens of shops, and local restaurants and cafe’s. Some of the students actually live up here with their families running some of the shops and hotels. We visited two families, one who ran a hotel and the other who ran a small shop. Both families were extremely welcoming with teas. We were welcomed with so much tea, that sometimes we had to decline. The people here are so giving and happy to invite.
The next day, we walked about 30 minutes in the opposite direction to visit several more families. By the way, all of these families that we visit are families of students of mine. Many wished for me to visit their homes and often times, the parents would ask me to stay the night. In the USA, or any other Western country for that matter, it would be rather weird to stay the night at your students home but here it was completely normal, especially since I wasn’t a “true” teacher, if you will. Also, the generic vibe here is more of a family-feel than anything. My home is your home.
We visited “my son” Samir and his mother who was hard at work. I helped them out a bit.
Soon after, we went to visit my other brother Bipin and his mother again, just a little down from where Samir lived. There, Bipin’s mother cooked us potatoes and made more tea. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much tea in one day. I never wanted it, but they would always insist.
I was able to take Amish and two of his closest friends down to Lakeside for the weekend to treat them a bit before I prepared to leave the country. We did a lot of cool things that they’ve never done in their lives before, like bowling, going to the movies (in 3D), and drinking Oreo milkshakes, and playing video arcades. They’ve never done any of that before! I was a little surprised by that.
I let them pick the movie (Boss Baby) which has become their new favorite movie. It was a hit for them!
Class 10 who I initially didn’t care for two years ago, won me over by a landslide this time. I felt like I really got to know them individually. I will miss them.
Not only them, but practically the entire school, including the younger classes.
Miek came at a perfect time. I was able to say my goodbyes to all of the families and the students to let them know that I must continue on my trip and I promised I would return sometime in the future. I really did mean that. I found a home here.
A few of the teachers pitched in and surprised me with a cake on my birthday.
I was dreading leaving. I was finally able to stay in one place for a long time and in doing so, got to know an entire community. They got to know me as well. The multiple families, the neighbors, the students, the teachers, even the dogs and cats that roamed in the same area. All of the students knew me as the teacher who introduced a lot of fun (and English oriented) games. It was a different feeling. I really did feel at ease here…like I would at home. Even more so than at my real home to be honest. I could rock up to this village at anytime point in my life, completely out of the blue, and know that I would be well taken care of and welcomed…with tea!
It got me thinking.
Realistically, it would be a couple of years before I could return. And with that, life gets in the way so there are no guarantees.
It’s very possible that I can finish my allowed 150-day visa total in the summer (I initially only applied for a 90-day visa)? Like say possibly in July or August? Wishful thinking.
Back to Kathmandu
One the way back to Kathmandu, I stocked up on cheap medical supplies (motion pills, cough drops, aspirin, stuff like that) and nabbed a cheap hotel for the night. My flight to the next country on my quest, Tajikistan, would be the next day!
There was one “small” problem I was unaware of that would completely change the course of my next couple months of traveling…
(I shall explain on the following post)