Sunday, November 30, 2008

Lumbini or Bust!

November 11, 2008

The saving grace of my first week was the arrival of Nadia. Nadia is the chief fundraiser for the organization from London. She only recently started so they’ve sent her on a tour of the schools and refuges they run in Nepal. She’s a total delight! She arrived with Nick(UK), Jason(from US) and Samir(Nepal) --(three other delightful staffers or advisors-- and I was in HEAVEN!! English speakers! I jabbered non-stop (in competition with Nick, who can actually out-talk me! REALLY!!)

After the “officials” held their meetings, we visited the School for the Deaf – quite a large facility run by the competent Mrs. BK. My mosaic artists and I may design and install a mosaic to adorn the walls here. (Ricky, we really need your painting skills at the School!! Ray, a little plumbing would come in handy, too!) They board students and have day students…. Must have a couple hundred. We visited quite a few classrooms, the kitchen (fueled by wood as well as bio-fuel from the toilets…. really high tech but not quite working yet), and the dorms. Of course, we took the requisite gazillion photos of the kids and then headed off to our next stop.

Next, we visited the Refuge for circus/jail/street kids that’s a short walk from my house. The kids range in age from maybe 4 to 17…. Some have been there for years, others have recently been rescued from their abusive situations. Some can’t even speak Nepalese yet; still speak local dialects and are, therefore, kind of “outcasts” from the others (although NO ONE is mean! I cannot believe how KIND these people are!! In the US, the newcomers would be like bloody meat to the sharks!!) We spent a couple hours with the kids taking a gazillion photos and chatting with them as best we could.

Then, Nick, who lived here in Bhairawa for a couple years when the Trust was headquartered here, showed us the local “haven” – Pizza King – with its back-of-shop oasis, a cozy and welcoming garden. But best of all, you can get a cold beer and not look like white-woman-drinking-alcohol. Love it! We chattered away for a couple hours and then headed home for our 8 pm dinners.
Nick and Jason flew out the next day, but Nadia and Samir and I went on an adventure to Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha.

Nepal donated a huge piece of land to any countries that want to build temples honoring Buddha and his birthplace and there are now acres of land dotted with absolutely gorgeous temples interspersed with others that are under construction (for many years it appears).

We sardined into the local bus where we spent 45 minutes bumping through the endless rice paddies that make up this area. Harvest is now underway and workers are harvesting the rice with small hand scythes, loading it on backs (or women, usually) and taking it to the “processing area” where they either separate the rice from the rice hay with baskets (throwing it up in the air repeatedly) or a small machine (I think peddle operated). MOUNDS of rice hay are everywhere! Samir jumped out and got me a sample of the rice to see how it grows… looks like hay, but has rice in the buds instead of wheat….duh!

Anyhow, Lumbini was great. We hired bicycle rickshaws to take us around (bartered hard to one for Nadia and I for 300 rupies each, about $3.50…. and Samir’s for 350 rupies…maybe $4) The tour took several hours and some pretty intense pedaling! We visited about 6 beautiful temples as well as “the actual spot where Buddha was born,” an excavation under roof with a stone that marked it… I have fuzzy photos to prove it!

After a tasty lunch we headed home and decided we should ride on the roof of the bus! Loads of Nepalese do it, but I had never tried it. It was GREAT! Nice cool breeze…. Lots of room (the bus that had a capacity of maybe 40 was crammed with about 80)… plenty of people to wave at and take video/photos of. Really great except for the steel bars that bammed against our bums for the entire trip!

Nadia and Samir left on Sunday morning (11/9)…. I was really sad, but that’s life on the road! I spent the day at the Internet CafĂ© in town uploading images for the article Ego-Generist magazine in Russia is running on my work in December!! Check it out!! It’s in Russian, but I’m sure you’ll all want to spend the time to interpret it and learn all about me!! It took THREE HOURS to upload 22 images…. I’m sooooo glad I remembered to take my book!!

As noted earlier, this week has been good…. Learning, working, creating… living in the dark, living in silence…. Got to Instant Message with Emily and Molly this morning for the first time… Ahhhhhh! Wonderful to chat with some wacky friends…. Anyone else on IM? Lets talk! I can get on at 8:30 am here which is 9:30 pm at home… if anyone wants to join in, PLEASE DO!! Or if not, WRITE TO ME!!!!!! I need my buddies!! (I can hear you all now…whine, whine, whine… then why did you leave??!?!?!?)

The last big news of the day before I end this lengthy writing…. NADIA IS RETURNING ON THURSDAY!!! I guess she couldn’t stand to be away from the fantastic energy here in my silent/fun house so she’s going to come back and play with us for awhile. YAY!!!! (Although the last time she was here she didn’t wash her hair for 3 days because the water was too cold…. Can’t wait to hear what kind of “accommodations” she found at the next place to make her want to return here!! Hahahahha! A cold spigot sometimes looks mighty good when you’re surrounded by friends! Even ones that only speak with their hands…. And hearts….

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