Now that I am back to campus in my usual coffee shop… it’s time to blog! I would have loved to have blogged while in Nepal, but my wifi access was quite limited. Instead, I maintained a journal during my month there and am going to summarize my experiences in a series (so stay tuned for more 🙂 ).
To start out with… this blog is dedicated to my overall thoughts on Nepal and the people I met. Nepal is definitely not for the faint-hearted, and not somewhere you should go to on a whim without prior planning. But for all of the adventurous spirits… this is your place! There were several times along the way as I was lying sick with an unidentifiable stomach bug, whizzing down the busy streets on the back of a motor-bike, or having giant rocks hit the side of my bus that I thought, “Nepal, surely this is where I will die.” But… I would do it all again.
Many Americans know Nepal as the place with Mount Everest or the place that had a devastating Earthquake last year. But there is much more to Nepal than that… While yes, the views are beyond words.. the people that inhabit this country are even more so. The Nepali people are collectively the most beautiful group of people I have ever met.
We were greeted with smiles and “Namaste!” pretty much everywhere we went while in Nepal. Their generous and hospitable nature is evident in everything they do. They love to feed you, and will run errands for you on a moments notice if you so much as ask where you can find something. They are content with so little, a characteristic that I have admired my entire life and ties into my fascination with the Amish community. The Nepali people don’t complain, even when situations seem unfair.
Hinduism is the most prevalent religion in Nepal, and while it is intricate and I will never fully understand everything there is to it, it is incredibly beautiful to watch. Compared to the average modern-day Christian in the United States, their religion is more deeply ingrained in day-to-day life. Just walking down a street, you would see people worshiping– burning incense, blessing various spots (or animals), performing rituals, etc. Hindus are very open to other religions, and the people we met were eager to learn about what it is we believed.
To travel to Nepal, the most important thing to bring is the ability to laugh at yourself. Rachel and I had several moments that could have been miserable had we not brought along our sense of humor. I enjoyed every minute– the pleasant and not-so-pleasant– and learned so much more than just how veterinary medicine is practiced in Nepal. I feel like it’s also important to be able to see beauty in the rubble. While Nepal is a beautiful country, not everything is glamorous. It’s dusty in Kathmandu, sure, but yet there is so much color. Seeing ruin left by the earthquake is depressing, but yet the people are determined and their ingenuity is incredible.
The main question that we were asked– beating out “Which state are you from?” and “Who are you voting for in the upcoming election?”– was “When are you coming back?” I absolutely intend on coming back, and hopefully soon! I was told by many people that I needed to stay, find a Nepali man to marry, and live there. Considering that the ratio of women to men is 3:1, the odds were for sure against me on that one. I was also offered homes to stay in for my next journey back, so I think that’s what I will have to do instead. To the Nepali people I interacted with the most, I am called “sister,” but beyond that I truly feel like family. When I think of Nepal now, I don’t initially picture mountains… I picture the people: wearing bold colors and patterns, sitting on their stools, using their hand brooms, enjoying life. Because of that, it was so hard to leave and I identify completely with the Miriam Adeney quote:
“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.”