It was so nice to be in Nepal again.
Our last visit to Nepal was in 2010. In 2015 the Gorkha Earthquake hit the country. About 9000 people were killed, many thousands more were injured, and more than 600,000 structures in Kathmandu and the surrounding area were damaged or destroyed. About half a million families lost their homes and many of the heritage buildings were destroyed. It is estimated that the overall damage was about $10 billion, which is almost half of its gross domestic product. We saw evidence of the immense tragic impact. Still years later, there are damaged buildings and debris laying around. Some homes and business have been able to be rebuilt, many have not.
As David shared in his blog, we meet our Nepali family in 2007 on our first trip to Nepal. As we did the last two visits, we stayed with them in their home. Social media has allowed us to stay in touch with them but it’s certainly not the same as seeing them in person! Kids have grown, family size has grown, and the home has grown. We spent 3 nights with them this trip. It was great to catch up and be together. We got updated on who’s doing what for work, school, and college plans. We looked at pictures together, laughed, and reminisced about previous visits together. And of course, we ate plenty of good homemade food! There’s always way more food than our stomachs can handle. They take good care of us as their guests. And feeding us is one of those ways. David and I try to be easy guests and want to participate in the cooking or at least clean up, but it’s not allowed with them. We are spoiled and treated so kindly. Hopefully some day we will be able to host them in our home. But, unfortunately, travel visas from Nepal to the US are rare to come by. Maybe someday!
After the 8 or 9-hour bus trip to Pokhara we were rewarded with fresh air, great views, and a relaxing location. We walked a lot, read, did yoga, took a couple great cooking classes, ate great food, and meet nice people. I know that sounds like a broken record – meet nice people. Really, we have meet so many kind, generous, thoughtful people. There are nice people everywhere. I didn’t need to travel to discover that. But during our traveling we have often had to rely on a stranger for numerous things – directions, information, a ride, place to stay, food, translating and speaking for us, and so much more. When you are dependent on someone you realize how vulnerable that can feel. The dotted fine line from the role of helper to needing help is constantly shifting. It is evident to me, nearly daily, how the exceptional power of kindness can have a huge impact on someone’s (my) experience.
We meet Guru Dev the first day in Pokhara. We had been told by our Airbnb host what we should expect to pay for a ride to her home. Given our history with taxi drivers…..including just moments prior from the bus stop to downtown….we were slightly guarded and ready to haggle. Guru Dev was sitting in a taxi reading. We got his attention and David threw a price out to him. It was lower than what we expected to pay and he just said ok, ok and motioned to us to get in. What I really remember was has big beautiful smile. He was calm and helped us get one backpack into his trunk and the other backpack on the back seat. I also got in the backset and David got in the front. The car was fairly old and run down and when we got inside there was a pleasant familiar smell of incense. I noticed he had a rudraksha mala around his neck and a little tika on his forehead. He spoke great English and so we were able to chat the whole ride to where we were staying. We discussed yoga, meditation, trataka (gazing at a single point), and the growth and development in Pokhara in the last few years. When we both got out of the car that first ride we looked at each other and said, wow he was nice. He’s one of those people that you feel good around and just enjoy being with. We utilized him a few more times for taxi trips to or from our home in the week we were there. We learned a little more about him, his family, and life in general each time. I was not surprised to learn that in addition to driving a taxi he also heals people.
One of my favorite moments in Pokhara, that no picture can capture, was standing on our rooftop patio, right outside our room, in the evening when the sun had set hours prior and darkness had set in. Then it happened….the magic….fireflies……lightning bugs. We saw a couple and then we saw more, far off and close up. Lighting up and then seemly disappearing. Again and again and again. I LOVE seeing fireflies! I don’t know what it is about them but I never tire of the amazement and magic they display.
We journeyed back to Kathmandu on the 9-hour bus ride and stayed in the Thamel area. If anyone is going to Kathmandu I highly recommend Hotel Dream City. Owned by 3 brothers who came from a small village to try to make it in the big city. They named the place Hotel Dream City because when they were growing up Kathmandu was like a dream city to them. Kids often dreamed of going there to find work and make money. They were incredibly nice and went above and beyond to make sure we were happy and pleased with our stay.