Losing all sense of time due to jet lag I kept having to ask myself; What day is it? What time is it back at home? What is the temperature outside? My first day in Nepal I slept, for the most part, went to the grocery with my host family, then met with the leaders of the organization I would be working with during my summer fellowship. The founder of the organization let me know that she would start her journey to Dhankuta the next day and offered me a ride. I accepted the offer thinking that this would be the perfect time to bond before starting work together.
Before I could even learn the name of the street I was staying on in Katmandu I was off to my next destination! To be completely honest I was feeling like a fish out of water. My usual habit when in a new place is to dedicate the first day or so to fight jet lag, relax, and learn the lay of the land. But in the line of work, I am entering there is no time for that! Goodbye comfort zone! Goodbye getting settled in one place! (In retrospect I wish I stuck to my usual habit of getting settled.)
The journey was supposed to start at 7:25 AM the next day. Our departure from Kathmandu got a little delayed because I had to chase my host family's dog back into their fence. I was trying not to let the dog out but thanks to my backpack I had to open the gate wider to exit. Once Bella (the dog) was done protesting I was able to get her back where she belonged and meet my ride around the corner from the house. Our trip began.
With paved and unpaved roads 4 wheel drive is a must in Nepal. There is no cruising on the highway at 60 mph either. Unless you don’t care about your car that is. With no A/C in the car, we all had our windows down to catch the breeze. This also meant that all of the exhaust from buses and trucks consistently entered the car along with dust from the road. I was told about the road conditions before so whenever the air got too thick for me I would tie a scarf around my mouth and nose. Traffic was also an issue along the way.
During the beautiful ride to our first destination, Biratnagar, the view of the hills and valleys triggered excitement and gratefulness! At one point I found myself pushing back tears. There is something about nature and admiring the greatness of God. Gazing at the scenery felt like a foreshadow into my weeks ahead. Around every sharp curve, there was a new view. Even with the occasional pouring rain & winding roads, there was beauty in it all. Like our trip, I was expecting to hear tragic, rough stories from the people I met. Specifically the women I met with uterine prolapse. I was also expecting a moment of time to witness the resilience, passion, love, and beauty of the people I met. There is beauty in valleys and hills no matter how dark or treacherous they may be. If there is a way up then there is always a way down. This is something I think we all have in common. Everyone has a story! Everyone has their own experiences!
We made a couple stops along our way. One at an outhouse, the next for lunch in a beautiful valley, and the last at the biggest river in Nepal, the Koshi river. One very important stop we made was to get a sim card for my phone. I had to nag the people I was with to get one. At one point they even teased me for asking which I did not mind because when it comes to my safety I do not play! Having a working phone is very important! (More on this point later) We arrived in Biratnagar around 7:30 PM. After checking into our hotel I showered off the road residue and went to bed excited to explore the new area I was in.