In November 2019 I enjoyed a fabulous trek to Everest Base Camp. This was something I had wanted to do for a few years, and something I had failed at in 2018. (See my other blog https://livethelifeyoulove148822353.wordpress.com/2019/01/06/the-day-the-mountains-beat-me-ss/ )
Whilst the Everest Base Camp trek was difficult, yet so awesome, it was what I did next that made my trip to Nepal one of the most amazing adventures of my life.
After EBC I returned to Kathmandu where I finally met up with Raj from Let’s Clean Up Nepal. We had communicated for a few months while I had been fundraising to raise money for LCUN to use for a project in rural Nepal.
He had decided that an educational trip to a village called Duskot in Sindupalchok would be worthwhile and my fundraising would be used there. In the 6 months before traveling to Nepal I had been quietly raising money to take with me. The money was raised by asking people for donations; hosting a movie night and people bought tickets from me to attend; and selling home cooked goods. The most popular was my home made Rocky Road. I made and sold 40kg of that sweet, sweet treat and everyone that bought it said it was delicious.
So, loaded up with the money, I met Raj in Thamel one morning and we ran around to a few places to collect the gear we needed to take to Duskot. We collected sleeping bags and mats for all the volunteers to use (borrow) on the trip; a water filter for the school; a carton of toothbrushes; a carton of toothpaste; some fruit; some biscuits and a few other things. We added this to the gear we already had – our two packs; oral hygiene education gear; menstrual health hygiene sign; and products to make up sanitary care kits for girls and women in Duskot. With so much gear to carry, we ended up catching a taxi to the Old Buspark in Kathmandu. The taxi pulled up outside the Buspark and we offloaded our gear. I stayed on the footpath with some of the gear while Raj went to check where our bus was and load some of the gear. Looking totally out of place as a tall, blonde, female foreigner with a stack of gear, a few locals did come and talk to me, offering to carry my gear or get a taxi (for a fee). I politely declined and waited for Raj. Before long two girls came and stood with me. I asked if they were waiting for Raj too and they confirmed they were. When Raj returned we carried all the gear to the bus we would be traveling on. Soon the rear storage compartment was full and we had to load the other gear into the aisle. By now there were 4 female volunteers from LCUN (Amrita, Sara, Sonam and Geeta), Raj and myself. The 6 of us took our seats, along with other people, and eventually the bus departed.
The journey, for me, was very interesting. I stared out the window, watching people get on with their daily lives as the bus started the approximate 90km trip. The first 70km or so was along a major road. The bus pulled off onto a side road every now and again to allow passengers on and off. This also gave vendors time to hop in the bus to sell some food. In Kathmandu it was mostly potato chips and popcorn but as we got well outside of the built up area the vendors who jumped on the bus sold cooked fish and Pakora, a fried vegetable fritter of sorts. I was quite amused by the vendors jumping on and off buses passing by as this would never happen at home, and I admired them and their business opportunity.
Eventually the bus turned onto a secondary road. By now the bus was very full with passengers, assorted baggage, and additional packages. All the baggage and packages were stored in the aisle, which made getting on and off the bus a bit of an obstacle course. But no one got angry or complained. Everyone seemed quite accepting of the conditions.
I have to take a moment to commend the bus drivers in Nepal. They work long hours driving through the chaotic traffic of Kathmandu, country roads, and narrow tracks winding their way up mountainsides, negotiating passing other buses on single lane tracks and hairpin bends. Well done to them all.
The bus continued on a minor road. The driver turned on some music on the speakers and I loved listening to this along with the musical horn, used on blind corners to announce to oncoming traffic that the bus was on the road, as well as when coming up to a slower vehicle ahead to let them know you were passing. Eventually we reached a village called Jalbire. Here the bus stopped for a while and the driver had a break. Most people stayed on the bus, but we took the opportunity to have a toilet break. The others bought tea and a snack but I wasn’t hungry, having eaten some bread and fruit on the bus. I was grateful however to get off and stretch my legs. The limited leg room, and my long legs meant my knees had been jammed up against the seat in front for a few hours.
After the break, we hopped back on the bus and continued along the road for a while. Soon the road turned into a single lane dirt track with rocks strewn across it. From here the road began to wind up through the hills. Switchback after switchback. Sharp bends to negotiate around. The occasional 2 or 3 point turn to get around the tight corners. Steep drop offs on the side of the track – one bad move and it would be all over ! I would hate to be in a bus on this road in the wet season. I can imagine the danger factor would multiply 100% with wet, muddy, slippy roads and the fear of a landslide. Thankfully for us the driver was very skillful on these tracks and we eventually reached Duskot where the 6 of us got off the bus. It was at this point I realized we had been joined by one more girl. It was Raj’s beautiful niece Diksha, who had hopped on the bus when it passed by her village en route to Duskot. So now we were 7. Once off the bus, we collected all our gear and carried it up a narrow path to the school.
Please see part 2 for more of our trip https://letscleanupnepal.home.blog/2019/12/24/duskot-village-education-visit-part-2-shree-bhimsen-secondary-school/