Settling into Kathmandu

Posted by on Apr 13, 2013 in Featured, Nepal | 3 comments

After roughly seven weeks of seeing and experiencing as much as possible in New Zealand, Australia, and India, our first volunteer project couldn’t have come at a better time. We were ready to slow down and feel settled in one location for more than a few days. More importantly, we were ready to begin dedicating part of our time on this trip to volunteering. Kathmandu, Nepal would be our home for the next two weeks and the place that we would find comfort in a routine. 

As liberating and fun as a nine month trip can be, it’s not always as easy as it may seem. Once you cross the one month mark, “vacationing” slowly transitions into “traveling”. You are constantly on the go, never sleeping in the same bed for more than three, maybe five, nights. You must learn how to manage a minimal wardrobe and get used to handwashing clothes in a lake, bucket, or hotel sink. The next week, and many times, the next day, are rarely planned.  I have quickly realized how much of our life back home is based around a daily routine.  Yet, prior to embarking on this trip, there was no way of knowing how we would handle nine months of “travel”.  Am I saying that I am ready to go back to work? No. But I have learned that, while long term travel can be taxing, it can be sustainable if we mix in some meaningful work and add more purpose to our days along the way. Hence, the chance to live in Kathmandu for two weeks and teach English is a welcome retreat. 

Class 1

Students from Class 1

We’ve teamed up with the Nepal Volunteers Council (NVC) to work at the Deeya Shree English Boarding School in an area known as Lokantali, home to Kathmandu’s biggest slum. It’s a new scholarship school funded by the NVC and it affords 160 children a free education. Teaching English and helping to prepare some of the poorest kids in the world for final exams is extremely gratifying. Doing it with Kat magnifies that feeling tenfold.
 
Going to the school everyday has helped to shape a sense of routine and the “traveling” feeling has subsided for now. We go for a run through our village on the city outskirts every morning at 6:30am. We eat breakfast at the house with two other volunteers and the host kids. We cram onto two different, overcrowded buses around 8:30am for the 1 1/2 hour commute (think overcrowded as in the bus is designed for 15 people, but most days will fit 30-40). Just before we walk into school, I stop at the same kiosk with the same lady to buy five Mentos to have a familiar taste from home and contribute to Lokantali’s real economy. We work at the school until 4:00pm before hopping back on the buses. We eat dinner prepared by our host parents around 7:00pm and, soon after, it’s time to relax and go to bed. The days are long and tiring at times, but it’s a routine. 
My daily Mentos stop

My daily Mentos stop

Could we spend nine months strictly vacationing? Probably, but I doubt we would want to. We want experiences that will allow us to take away lifelong lessons and memories. We’ll gladly sacrifice hitting all the touristy sites to spend extra time making new friends and “family”. I believe finding new homes for a week or more at a time and better pacing our travel will allow us to do this and leave an immeasurable impact on our entire trip.

3 Comments

  1. Education is the best gift you could give anyone!
    Love you both, Mom

  2. Good post pally. Staying in one place sounds like you can have a better experience and you get to have the “fresh maker” every morning!

    • i like it

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