This will be my last post for a month.
Currently I am in the vibrant (read that in a euphemistic way) city of Kathmandu. Tomorrow I head to the village I will be volunteering in for the next month. The village is called Patle and it lies above a town called Dhadingbesi in the Dhading district of Nepal. I take a 3-4 hour bus to Dhadingbesi and will be met there. I have been strongly advised to get a front seat on the bus because it is so windy. From there how I get to the village will depend on if the road is open (it has been closed for the last few days because of rain and mud and snow melt). If it is open then I will go up that day on the one truck collectively owned by the village. If not I will have to stay the night in Dhadingbesi with the local social worker and then the next day hire a porter (there's not much hope of my fitness allowing me to carry my 18kg pack!) and trek the three hours up to the village (it only takes one hour to trek down so that gives you an idea of how steep it is). There is just houses and the school in the village-- internet, shops, bank and the hospital are down in Dhadingbesi, but there is cellphone coverage so a lot of the villagers have phones. Only a few speak English so I am busily learning Nepalese.
I will be staying with a local family and teaching children in school and adults in the community. The literacy rate here is about 53%, but for women it is much worse at 41%. This is going to be for me quite a challenge, but I am looking forward to it.
Today I have been busy sorting out the details in Kathmandu and I can now boast to knowing a total of five words in Nepalese. So I didn't get much time for sightseeing. I did however manage to see a dead rat on the road. Not such a big thing you might say, except that this rat was about 30cm long and as fat as a cat. The poverty is really evident here in Kathmandu, the vendors are more persistent than in Thailand and I am often followed for a while by beggars. Yesterday a boy of about 5 followed me for 100m asking for money. At one stage he ran in front of me doing a cartwheel. As hard as it is, I just had to keep walking... faster.
The roads and drivers in Kathmandu are an adventure in themselves. Potholes seem more common than flat surfaces and the roads are as many lanes wide as the drivers decide to make them. On the taxi from the airport we narrowly avoided a prang at least seven times on the 10km journey. Even the motorbikes come standard with bull bars protruding from either side. There are no traffic lights in this city of one million people, and no give way or stop signs. Right of way is determined by tooting your horn. And everyone uses their horn. Even cyclists put together makeshift horns of strips of rubber and water bottles or shampoo containers, such is the essential nature of this accessory.
Several times in the taxi yesterday we headed up a two lane street that was only the width of one, and meet traffic on the way. Both cars stood at a standstill facing off with their horns. After a couple of minutes and a bit of mutual reversing the situation was solved and on we headed.
So there are adventures to be had. I hope to come back to Kathmandu on the 18th of May. See you then.