The lovely countryside passed by my window as I sat in the car, on my way to the Nepalese village of Fulkharka. My trip would take many hours…rough roads and traffic jams.
Buses, trucks,cars, and motorbikes, all sharing the narrow roads, weaving in and out through traffic.
Creating some secret and dangerous dance; always passing and dodging.
Viewing this ritual is not for the faint of heart. Somehow this works out orderly and beautifully with rarely a harsh word heard.
Stopping for lunch on the way, we settled in to a roadside eatery. Displays of chips and cold drinks in the front, and tables and chairs in the back.
Gas burners flaming, with large pots of rice and curries and pickled veggies on the side.
No menus were needed. Dal Bhat is always the selection. Usually served on tin plates with portioned sections.
A large mound of steamed rice sits regally in the middle of the plate, surrounded by various curried vegetables on the side, and always a green,leafy,briny pickle.
All this is served with cups of dal, the lentil broth, which varies in consistency. Occasionally, there is a meat; sometimes chicken, or mutton, or buffalo.
Halfway into the meal, the cook comes around to the diners with a container of extra rice, curry, or dal.
This meal seems to be the Nepalese version of our American “all you can eat” buffets.
When lunch is done, we return to our car and continue our trip to the village.
The scenery along the way is breathtaking, with mountain views, tall trees, and dark green terrace landscapes. The terraced land being fields of rice, and is a staple in Nepal and grown by most families.
As we drive, we pass many people walking. Roads which I perceived as difficult for a vehicle, were daily traveled by people in the small villages.
Toward sundown, we arrived at the village of Fulkharka, in the Dhading district of Nepal.
Finding a place to leave the car, we gathered our bags and started walking.
The trek wasn’t long when we arrived upon the village. Small homes, in various stages of construction and re-construction (after the earthquake).
We were graciously welcomed by a lovely family. I was shown to my bedroom for the two night stay. The room was a little bigger than the size of my wooden platform bed. Very cozy and perfect, especially the heavy woolen blanket for the chilly nights.
Fulkharka has not received electricity yet, so the little bit of light came from a solar light bulb.
As we sat on the front porch, in the dim light, we were served a plate of skewered fruit. Apples,bananas, and oranges. There is nothing better than fresh picked fruit.
My nonexistent knowledge of Nepalese didn’t seem to hamper me, as I sat with the children of the family. Their mother was usually busy with chores and their father wasn’t at home.
Many Nepalese men need to find a source of income to support their families. Some do so as trekking guides, or find work in nearby countries.
Sleep time comes early here. Much work in the fields, tending to the animals, and household chores, makes for early bedtime here.
Off to my room, and wrapping myself in the warm blanket, I found myself fast asleep. Only to be awakened by the rays of the morning sunlight peering through the cracks in my room.
Day one in the village, started out with some sweet Nepali tea. Always wonderful on a chilly morning. We made our rounds, visiting the homes of family members. Always greeted warmly and offered a warm drink.
I was also fortunate to visit the local school, having brought some workbooks in English for the students.
That evening concluded with a local festival and delicious dal bhat with tasty mutton.
With the festival atmosphere lingering, children running in and out of houses, smokey smells of wood fires, and the visits of local neighbors, we sat on the front porch and had nice conversation.
I truly felt at home and welcomed there.
The next morning, we packed up and said our goodbyes and left on our journey back to Kathmandu.
During my trip to Nepal I was so lucky to have been able to visit 3 villages.
Short but sweet, they were. Dhekure in Nowakot district, and Gharmi, near the city of Pokhara.
While my time spent in these two villages was short, the love and graciousness shown to me was long.
(Author Barbara Kluger based on Texas, USA, food blogger & friends of Nepal)