10 April, 2010

The long awaited trip to CPH~

Finally made it to the Children’s Peace Home (CPH). So much to see/think about. The trip here from Kathmandu was an adventure in itself…I got up at 5 am and was all packed and in the HVP van at 5:30. I was driven to CM brother’s house where we picked up his mother (who they call Ama) and Bhola’s wife. Bhola, his wife and Ama run CPH and were in Kathmandu visiting another brother who is ill (Ama had 5 boys and 5 girls). We arrived at the bus station at 6ish and after finding our bus, we settled in. by the looks of the bus it had seen much better days

The inside was very cramped and obviously meant for a small statured person and although I am not huge by any means, I could see right away I would be at a disadvantage as the only way to not have my knees hit the seat in front of me was to sit up very strait….for 10 hours! I managed to wedge my feet under the seat in front of me so could somewhat stretch out. I watched the bus fill up with locals until all the seats were filled. But then small wicker stools were brought out and the middle aisle was utilized. Those unlucky enough to not have gotten there in time to secure a real seat would have to sit for the long journey among those small stools. For 800 Rupees (about 12 USD) we received a large bottle of water and lunch along the way. At 7:20 am the bus took off.

The roads in Nepal are about as weathered as the busses. Bouncing along hitting potholes and dodging other vehicles, bikers and people was not conducive to reading, so I tried to sleep dozing off for a few minutes at a time. The bus did have a TV in it and soon a movie from India was started. It had English subtitles about every other scene, so I could somewhat follow along. It was cheesy as many Indian films are, but it killed the time. Soon it was 11:30 and we were stopping for lunch. I follow Ama off the bus and into a roadside restaurant. There we were served the typical Nepali meal (dhal/lentils, rice, potatoes, yogurt and a vegetable. I looked down and immediately saw the absence of a spoon. (a luxury afforded to ‘foreigners’ in Kathmandu. Now 3 years earlier my dear Nepali friend had taught me the skill of eating the rice, mixed with the other food with my hand –believe me it’s not as easy as it sounds, especially if you do not want to make a mess out of everything.

I washed well and began to eat; very much aware of the dozens of dark eyes occasionally looking my way. I was starving and as the food was offered again and again (all you can eat!) I began to finally satisfy my hunger. After washing again and using the toilet, I headed back to the bus. While waiting for others to finish a Nepali man approached me and started a conversation in very broken English. It is as these times I really wish I could just say “I’m from New York or California” because “I’m from Kansas in the Unites States” is met by blank stares. This time describing Kansas (the middle of the US) was a bit easier since we were in the Terai (flat plains) district so I said it’s similar to this region without the hills and mountains in the distance. We discussed the US a little and I was SO VERY thankful that I didn’t have to explain GW Bush’s stance on everything! Obama has thankfully given me THAT freedom!

We boarded once again and another movie was started and by the laughter around me it must have been a comedy (although the subtitles lacked any humor whatsoever). We drove on and on and then hit a highway and I was able to read finally! I had picked up “Stones into School” the sequel to “Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson in Kathmandu at a book store. I HIGHLY recommend both books!
Along the way the terrain started looking more and more like Kansas…right down to the large patches of Sunflowers J

We finally pulled into somewhere around 6:00 that evening and we caught another much much smaller ‘bus’ to Ghorahi (gor-aye). I use the term ‘bus’ only in the sense that you pay a small fee to get you from one place to another; this vehicle has 1 bench seat where the driver was and then behind that another bench seat. In the back there were 2 smaller benches lining each side of the vehicle. This whole thing was smaller than a SUV and was already packed with people and luggage on the top. Silly me thought that we would have to wait for the next ‘bus’ to come but then I remembered where I was and watched in wonderment as they crammed poor old Ama into the back. They then turned to me and opened the door opposite the driver. Inside was the driver a woman and a man and about 8 inches of seat. I tried to fit my butt onto the seat but then the door wouldn’t close; a fact we all found out when the guy on the outside tried to slam it shut. I then adjusted with 1 cheek on the seat and my knees pointed towards the driver. It worked and the door shut. All I could think about is “how long do I have to sit this way” as my legs were already cramping and the door handle was lodged into my lower spine.

I looked back to see where Bhola’s wife, Jaya, was going to be put. They somehow managed to squeeze her into the back with Ama. In all there were at least 17 people inside the vehicle and one guy standing on the step rail thing holding onto the door frame. We drove and drove and I kept wiggling my toes as they were going numb and every time we stopped I silently prayed that one of the people next to me would get out…FINALLY about 30 minutes later the guy next to me motioned to pull over, when I jumped out of the vehicle to let the guy pass, I almost fell over since my knees were locked up. The last thing I wanted was to be the main character in a story about the “foreigner who fell from the bus”. I regained my composure stood up and then got back on. With all the room, it suddenly felt like a luxury sedan! One by one the others departed and I was happy to see that my two travel companions were sitting as comfortably as I was.

Finally we arrived in Ghorahi and crawled out of the ‘bus’ and they downloaded our entire luggage (well my 2 backpacks and a plethora of smaller bags belonging to the others). After a quick call, the school bus (dismiss any US school bus image that comes to mind –again, this is Nepal) from the HVP school in Dang arrived to take us to CPH.

A 10 minute bumpy ride later and I was departing amongst a group of children all yelling “Namaste!” and handing me flowers. Delirious, hungry, bladder bursting and tired, I accepted them with joy and realized my journey to Dang was indeed over.

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