Today we were supposed to dig a hole (for a toilet for the school), ascend a mountain (to see the view), repack the bins (to get organized for tomorrow’s workshop in the next community), and play Dr. Doolittle (by visiting all the sick animals on the hillside). However we realized early on that this list of things was unlikely to happen, given the length of time it takes to walk up and down the mountain…. So unfortunately our trip to the summit got discarded.
Instead we had a bit of a lazy morning, slowly getting organized… and finding a variety of small tasks to complete. However in the midst of doing this, we were horrified to discover our wee family member (who is maybe 3) happily playing on some logs full of rusty nails. This is in direct contrast to yesterday when he was happily bouncing on a string of fence wire on the side of the cliff, or the day before when he was poking corn cobs into the fire… Obviously the Nepali custom of child rearing is a little more laid back than a more Western view – and this child is completely unafraid of death and is living life to the fullest. Either that or he has decided to become Evil Knaevel reborn, and his family just can’t keep up.
In an effort to be absent should disaster befall little E.K., we left to go to the school to complete our first tasks (dealing with the bins, and retrofitting the bucket with the filter that Ritual Energy provided us with). We hadn’t gone more than 1/3 of the way before we got kidnapped to go deal with a sick buffalo. Since we had disappeared, the guys sent frantic texts wondering where we were, thinking perhaps we were lost somewhere on the mountain. Apparently the answer “Lila’s house” was sufficient to tell them exactly where we were, as Sudarshan and Rabindra arrived within a few minutes. While at “Lila’s”, her next door neighbour came over and reminded us that we needed to all go see her buffalos as well. However given that Gin was also busy treating Lila’s daughter (who had had a nail stuck in her foot a few days past), this took a little while.
These two households had the most unimpressed buffalos ever… But it was not even 10am and we had three animals already examined, with treatments done.
We finally got to the school, where it took us longer than anticipated to sort through the bins and deal with the filter. We were actually trying to make it easier – so that only one bin would need to be carried to the next community, rather than both. This meant that the bin ended up being a little heavy… so feeling bad, Tonic fixed our box from the vet store (it had fallen apart) with several layers of duct tape (only Canadians!) and we put half of the heavy stuff in it to distribute the weight.
Once done we gave the filtration bucket to Laxmi Miss (the head teacher), who seemed somewhat confused but tried to look grateful. At the same time, we somehow agreed to go look at her cow (actually we think that Sangita, Sudarshan and Rabindra just randomly agree to our help for us… and we are gullible enough to just follow along).
While waiting to go to her house we ended up somehow going halfway down the mountain (WTH??) to go look at another buffalo and some goats. The path to this house was somewhat precarious and Sangita slipped and fell several times. This was concerning to everyone as we had visions of her tumbling all the way down the mountain and needing more help than we were carrying in our little backpack (since all of the medical supplies other than ivermectin were still in the bin in the school).
At this point Sudarshan was feeling badly that we wouldn’t have the chance to see the view from the very top of the mountain, and so he took us up a small hill (where apparently the very first Nepali king won his major battle). Of course he couldn’t help himself, and had to try to convince Tonic to climb the side of the hill that was a sheer rock face… only to laugh hysterically at her hesitant response.
This brief rest was only preparation for a climb back up the hillside to see two more buffalo and a cow. By this time our supply of both ivermectin and patience was starting to run low, and when we had to spend half of our time trying to get small children and chicks out from underneath buffalo hooves, we were a little bit short.
This was the point that the guys decided to leave us to go make sure that everything was arranged for tomorrow. Meanwhile we trekked over to Laxmi’s house to look at her cow, and have tea. It is the custom here that everyone offers a meal and tea if we even walk past their house, and especially if we have examined their animals. This is very humbling and generous, and incredibly difficult to refuse, and has meant that most days we are returning home in the pitch dark. If you could see the paths that we walk, you would understand why this is a concern.
Thankfully, we arrived home with enough time to get to the communal showers (and interesting experience in and of themselves – where you attempt to get clean while still wearing all of your clothes) before full dark. However the walk home was made in the dark, and for Gin in bare feet, as someone had borrowed her thongs and the ones she was wearing were somewhat slippery. She is now a true Nepali, having negotiated a trail in bare feet.
At the house, we spent an hour or so having a Nepali-English lesson with Binita (Sudarshan’s eldest brother’s daughter). She is very interested in us, especially Tonic, and spends as much time as possible engaged in attempted communication. We then had dinner and a long conversation about Nepali customs, and what had actually occurred as far as schooling, marriage, and family with all of the “wives”. It was quite the eye-opener, as it was also shared that it is believed that white people are emotionless droids that promiscuously share partners randomly every night… so much for wholesome American television sharing the American dream.
On that note, it is time for us to go engage in our own nightly dreams…
Sleep well – don’t let the ants bite…
Love to you all