Written by Monika Terfloth.
This is part 2 of 10 of the “Mother in-law” series IN Nepal and India.
We left Kathmandu yesterday at the crack of dawn and headed for Pokhara by hired car. Pokhara is the take-off point for our trek which starts tomorrow. The words flashing through my mind as we drove included the following: hurtling, breakneck, careening, insane, bottomless cliff… The driver, whose name I have forgotten, was very skilled (and a former soccer player for the Nepal national team) but the four of us still felt the need to shake hands and acknowledge that we indeed had a good life up to this point. We did arrive unscathed, witnessing only three accidents on the way…bus over the side of a cliff, vegetable transport truck smashed in, crushed taxi.
At the same time, we passed through numerous idyllic villages all preparing for the festival of Desain (akin to our Christmas) People are on the move, coming from far and wide to celebrate with family. Home to where other family members have freshly red-washed the brick cottages and the outdoor tandoori oven, which sits proudly in the cleanly swept courtyard. In the early afternoon, the women in bright saris have gathered under the banyan trees and children play alongside. Travelling the route was a bit like watching a movie go by. Cows herded along the roadside, huge baskets of wood collected for the tandoori, vegetables for market, young children tending others still younger than they.
The highlight, as if all this isn’t enough, was the side trip to the village of Bandipur. This serene village is virtually at the end of a narrow road, cliffside at the top of a valley and looks down the terraced hillsides dotted with small homesteads to the river valley below. Bandipur decided several years ago to eliminate vehicles of any kind in the town, and had decided to prioritize cleanliness and self-sufficiency. Hence they have a system of garbage collection, a sewage system, and also have, unlike most villages, schools, hospital, nurseries, library. As well, in their remote village, they have high-speed internet. All this while preserving their traditional way of life. Truly an example of how such things are achievable. The momentum for this project came from the people themselves. As far as we know, no NGO’s have been involved.
Today finds us at the lakeside in Pokhara. While Tlell and Rex have decided to hike up the ‘World Peace Pagoda’ on a nearby hillside, Randy and I are finding the need to relax in preparation for the start of the trek tomorrow. The world is lush green following the monsoon season. The rains still come every few days, the last being a lengthy warm downpour that began yesterday evening and lasted until the wee hours of the morning. Such a cool and peaceful morning it is.