Friday, May 18, 2012

Rolling with the rolling blackouts

Hey folks! Dave and I have landed in beautiful Bandipur Nepal, a quaint mountainous village that historically was on the India-Tibet trade route. Tourists have only started to visit here over the past 6 years after construction of a new road off a highway on a popular route for trekkers improved access to it. It feels like it could be a make believe village set up at Epcot Center's world showcase in Disney World. There are cobblestone streets with no motorized vehicles allowed, ("whew hoooooo!"), old houses with wooden shutters and slate roofs, historic relics and temples, and it is surrounded by multiple enthralling  hillside villages steeped in traditional Newari culture that are easy to walk to. There are supposed to be magnificent views of the monstrous mountain peaks, but unfortunately due to the pre-monsoon season, we have only caught glimpses of them masquerading themselves as clouds in the far off distance.

Watching villagers walk down steep hills to reach sparsely flowing community water taps to bath, wash their dishes and then carry heavy baskets of various size buckets of water back up the hill to home really makes you think twice about how often you need to flush, bath and determine how many buckets of water you really need to use to wash your body and hair.

As well, experiencing daily 12 to 14 hours a day of  load shedding (or intentional power outages due to lack of power supply) can really have you contemplating conservation. It's another reminder for me of how easy it is to have a false sense of unlimited resources when we have the privilege of living with such abundance of resources in our daily lives. Can you imagine what would happen in Europe and USA if the electricity was shut off for 12 hours a day to conserve resources? Even with generators chaos would surely ensue and businesses and daily functioning would likely become paralyzed. Or can you imagine having to walk around the block to carry your daily supply of water back home. How much would you use then? Just something to think about!

Politically, it really is an interesting time to be visiting Nepal. After years of conflict between the Maoist rebels and main opposition parties and several failed attempts at peace negotiations, all parties are now sitting together in parliament and are 9 days away from the latest deadline to construct a new constitution. There are regular strikes that shut down businesses, schools, and transportation due to varying conflicts. Some of which include the proposed desire to divide Nepal into states based on ethnicity and caste as well as various groups demanding their individual needs be included in the new constitution. One has to be really flexible when trying to decide when to transition from one place to another due to the occasional use of violence to enforce the strikes. This, aside from just loving it here, is part of why Dave and I have relaxed into staying in Bandipur for 2 weeks now, which hardly feels affected by the strikes and is an amazing place to feel confined. We will likely be heading to Pokara in the next day or so but no major trekking for me this time because I have decided to modify my trip!

In 10 days I am heading to Europe with Dave to do a road trip in his VW van through England, Ireland and ending in Southern France to do a yatra (or walking pilgrimage) through the country side! Then I will be heading to Florida and NY to see family and back to CO by the end of August! I am really excited about this new development in my journey and look forward to keeping you all apprised of  how it unfolds!

Arial view of Bandipur from a near by hike


On most walks you will come upon a large tree with a platform built around it to provide well needed shade. It makes for a great gathering site for locals to rest and visit.

Several of us lazy tourist watch the porters and wonder why they don't use rolling carts to transport their heavy loads especially in an area like this where they could! One of the many unanswered baffling outsider questions.

Inside the home of my friends Leela and Krishna

Krishna's crib


One of Dave's many fan club members. She adorned his pony tail with these lovely roses.

A new local monastery hosted a celebration on Buddha's birthday where there was a procession through the streets in which community members carried sacred scriptures and universal Buddhist flags, burnt incense, and chanted. This is a traditionally Hindu area but there appears to be a wide acceptance of religious differences.

Many of the children were dressed traditionally and were too stunning to describe!

See what I mean?

The dance party set to start at approximately 3:00 still had not gotten started by 4:30 due to the traditional droning on of political speeches of some sort, but luckily we caught the impromptu dress rehearsal.

Boy climbing the post of a large traditional Nepali swing on the monastery grounds

One of the villages Dave and I came upon during our ill-prepared 12 hour walk through the hills and valleys.

This woman in the middle had the whole village in stitches. Upon translation we found out she was telling Dave that she was going to make herself up, put on her jeans and baseball cap and go to the USA with him! She was actually pretty convincing even in pantomime and  Dave was relieved to find out that she was only joking.
The making of millet beer in a near by village.

Farmers working in a large rice paddy field.

Carrying food for cows.

Grinding corn for making Raksi, home made grain alcohol.

Young shepherd boy with a broken arm and very dirty cast.

Goat shepherds come in all shapes, sizes, colorful clothing and genders

I am intrigued by the variety of facial appearances in Nepal in a single region. In India it seemed like people had a certain look depending on the location you were in and if folks appeared different you could often peg what part of India they were from originally.

I could be wrong, but I am thinking you could probably fit a baby bottle through the slats of this play pen, in fact the space may be large enough for this little guy to escape!!! Not to mention he could easily strangle himself on those wires, but other than that I am sure it is perfectly safe!!!


  1. LOVE these photos Jen...especially of the countryside.
    Wow! So excited you are now adding Europe to this adventure of yours. What a blessing for you and all those who you meet along the way!

    Big Hugs and lots of love friend!


  2. Thanks again for the amazing photos and stories! Europe is going to be some major culture shock after this trip, no?