Dreaming Of Nepal – A Woman’s Journey
In the month of October, 2016, I finally fulfilled my dream of going to Nepal. It wasn’t a long dream, a lifelong dream, or a childhood dream. In fact, a year before, I couldn’t have pointed to the country of Nepal on a map of the world.
My desire to take a trip to Nepal began with my husband’s trekking there. Being an adventurous person and loving physical challenges, he booked his first of two treks there- the first to Annapurna and the second to Mt. Everest. By his second trek in May of 2016, I was already familiar with his team of guides from Nepal Planet Treks, as I had been the one to communicate with them.
Following them on Facebook, I became familiar with some of the sights and much of the food. Being a self taught chef and food blogger, I was intrigued by the Nepali cuisine and started featuring it on my blog.
At the end of May, I was invited to a weekend in Los Angeles, California, where there was to be an International Nepali Literary Society gathering. A great opportunity to immerse myself in Nepali culture, language and food. For three days, I ate Nepali food, listened to the Nepali language, and soaked in the culture. What I gained from this experience that was most important, was the discovery of the people I met. I was absolutely taken in by the warmth, graciousness and acceptance of all who I met that weekend. I was able to make a few contacts and left with such wonderful feelings.
The new friends I made from near and far continued to grow and my connection to Nepal grew. I felt I needed to take the next step . I needed to visit Nepal. Mind you, I am not a person who enjoys traveling, around the block, or around the world,..yet my desire to be in Nepal was greater than anything I had anticipated.
So, without any hesitation, I booked my flight, half way around the world.
I WAS GOING TO NEPAL!!!! Following the advice of a friend who knew Nepal well, I promised to see the “real” Nepal. Thanks to his guidance and connections, this was realized. At first, I wasn’t sure if I could fill up the 20 days I planned to be there.
Flying from Texas to Newark, New Jersey and on to New Delhi, India, it took me two days to travel. On the last leg of my flight, the to Kathmandu, Nepal, I looked out the window of the airplane. The beautiful Himalaya Mountains were on my left. As a host greets his guest, the mountains greeted me. The beautiful sight, most breathtaking, brought tears to my eyes.
Landing in Kathmandu, I felt like a child, anticipating a trip to an amusement park and I didn’t know what to expect.
Finally exiting the airport, I saw a sea of unfamiliar faces and in the crowd, one very familiar one, my guide, waiting to greet me and drive me to my hotel. There is nothing in the world like that first ride from Tribhuvan Airport in Kathmandu.
Two words came to mind as I stared out the window of the car – CONTROLLED CHAOS. Cars, motorcycles, bicycles, rickshaws,dogs and pedestrians all moving to the sound of horns honking. Each moving in their own direction, yet seeming to get where they needed to go. Shops and colors of the rainbow, temples and flowers, food vendors and poor people selling their wares. People, young and old, walking with a sense of purpose, many wearing masks to protect them from the dusty streets in the city.
We made it to Hotel Nepalaya, in the heart of Thamel, a very touristy area, full of shops and activity.
I was warmly greeted by the hotel staff who I would come to regard as “family”by the time I left Nepal.
For the next 20 days, I participated in festivals, met with many inspirational people. Two women, in particular that I met, are dedicated to making Nepal a better place. One in government, who tirelessly helps her people in the remote villages, and another, who has dedicated her life to helping and rehabilitating sexually exploited young girls at her organization, Raksha Nepal. I visited with people, many in their homes. Ate lovely meals at homes and restaurants and I traveled to villages, some taking hours to get to.
Each day was “the best” I thought, until the next day came – which was better than the last – and so it went.
I visited a Nature park, rode an elephant, paddled a canoe, observed a rhinoceros in its natural habitat while hiking through brush. Rode on the back of a motor scooter and danced to Nepali music. I experienced so much on my trip. And the best of everything? It was meeting the people of Nepal. Their hearts are as big as Texas and you are welcomed into their homes with grace and as a family member. The smiles of the children are infectious. The greeting of Namaste is everywhere and is said in a manner of honor and affection. Yes, there is poverty in Nepal, and so many things that obviously need to be fixed or changed. But what is steadfast and true in Nepal? Faith and Love and Peace….you find it everywhere you go.
(Author Barbara Sue Kluger is San Antonio, Texas base Food Blogger associate with Nepal24hours.com as guest Editor)
Published Date: Tuesday, January 31st, 2017 | 01:26 AM