Well, what a journey. And what an upgrade!
The seven other volunteers living in my district and I left Kathmandu Saturday morning, bright and early, on a chartered bus with our counterparts and supervisors. Our bags and assorted things the PC has given us (mattresses, water filters, quilts etc) were strapped to the top of the bus with a lovely orange tarp draped over the top of it all. Us volunteers naturally sat next to each other, with the Nepali speakers as far away as possible.
It didn’t matter though, because most of us were hung over or carsick and slept the whole 8 hours to Syangia district center, myself included. We stopped once to eat, and that was it. We got to the district center at 5pm, whereupon we found that the hotel the PC had reserved for us was full. Which seems ridiculous because why on earth are there that many people overnighting in Syangia?? But, alas, we found another guest house to stay and all was well.
The other volunteers and I went out and ate chow mein and decided to watch a movie after. However, we got about 10 minutes into Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, and I asked for the key to my room from my roommate and excused myself to go to bed. I was so tired I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I went back to the room and didn’t even bother changing my clothes (as so often happens now) and laid down. It sounded like the whole town was outside my door having a party, though, so I put in some ear plugs and was asleep by the time they took full effect.
The next morning, we went with our counterparts to meet the district supervisors and a few other officials. The office we met in had free wi-fi, so I was able to use a nanosecond of it before the meeting started. They greeted us, said a lot in Nepali I wasn’t able to understand, and then tikka-ed us. After, there was a lot of standing around because the counterparts weren’t sure of the plan and we couldn’t be sure if they weren’t.
Finally, we mobilized and that’s when everything happened so fast. Before I knew it, we all had our things out of our rooms and in the street, waiting for our jeeps to come get us. Tia left first, and it was so sudden. Her counterpart was just like, it’s time to go! And that was it. She was gone. Alex and Kerry followed soon after, with all of their things and their counterparts in a tiny, tiny taxi.
Tom and I were next. It felt so strange to be parting from everyone. I teared up in the car, not from sadness per se, but from pure emotion overload. What can I say, I got scared!
It only took about 45 minutes to get to my town. When we pulled up to the house, which is right on the main road (which is paved, might I add), there were dozens of people outside waiting for me. They had a table set up with flowers and tikka and chairs to sit in. I greeted everyone with a namaste and was told to sit. Then, about 15 or so people proceeded to give me tikka. My face was a mess by the end of it all. Tom got all sorts of tikka too, but soon it was time for him to leave. That was weird too. Tom and I have lived near each other for the past three months. We always ended up walking back to our village together on hub days and I had just generally spent a lot of time with him. I’m glad he’s close to me now, but it was still strange to say that final goodbye.
But enough about getting here, let me tell you about the actual here. My new house is a huge upgrade. First, it’s not made of clay or mud, it was built out of real concrete and rebar. The ceilings aren’t 5 feet tall, but are instead almost vaulted. There are no trash bags lining my ceiling or any other part of the house. That bathroom is actually within the confines of the house, instead of outside and down a hill. Actually, we have two bathrooms, one downstairs and one upstairs. Wild. We have running water all the time. I have two (that’s right, two) outlets in my room, one of which is a built in converter. My bed is full sized and I have an actual desk.
The kitchen is awesome. It has a real table with 6 chairs and 6 placemats. There are actual shelves to put plates and food on. There is no traditional cookstove option, only a gas stove. And get this, we have a fridge! That was beyond my wildest dreams.
My family owns the shops on the first floor of the house and rents a room to a beautician. I’m stoked about that because I don’t have to travel very far to get my eyebrows threaded (which I did about a month ago, by the way. It was awesome and cost only 20 rupees). The only drawback of the shop is that it’s not a chiya pasal, but instead sells school supplies and clothes. I can drink a lot of tea, but I can’t use that many pens.
We have a dog named Rocky who looks an awful lot like a Pomeranian. He’s white and somehow appears to remain white with little maintenance from humans. We have an actual sitting area, with a TV and two couches. There’s a balcony right outside my window that overlooks the street, which again I have to tell you, is paved.
I’ve really moved up in the world over here in Nepal. To top it all off, my family is super nice. Two of my brothers are twins. So far, I like all three of the boys. I don’t really think they know what to do about me or what to say to me, at least not yet. My host mom speaks really fast and when I ask her to repeat, she comes about four inches from my face. My host dad is retired from the Indian army and speaks a good deal of English. I’m not sure yet if it will be helpful or not.
And so, for the next four days, I’ll sit around doing not much because my counterpart has left the district until Friday. Weird. I have to shower and wash some clothes though, so hopefully that takes up, what, 7 hours?