Thursday, November 15, 2007

hello again from KTM

I'm back in Kathmandu after several days trekking around eastern Nepal. We saw 3 red pandas - they are sooo adorable and cool. So many images flood my mind from the days past, moments and laughter and good food (dhal baat=rice and lentils) and snotty nosed dirty kids (cute though) and lovely people all welcoming us with "Namaste" greetings. I got 3 memory cards worth of photos and it will take me a while to go through and put some up but I will when I return. I fly to Bangkok in a few hours, and stay one night, and then to LA, then home. The documentary film crew along on the trip were all very cool and they are also flying to Bangkok on the same flight as me - Tim, Chuckles, Mei-Ling and Jon. Another guy came also, Mickey, but he's not heading to Bangkok now.

I've been reflecting on what the trip meant, what eye-opening things it held for me and I'm not sure. It was hard trekking, lots of uphill, camping in the cold, extreme weather changes from hot to freezing and hailing and rain - within a span of minutes!! Everyone got sick in one way or another -from violent throwing up to nausea to sore throats and colds and fevers... I didn't have any particular revelations - maybe those will yet come. I've seen third world countries before - and in fact the area we went was one of the least poor regions due to a prevalance of cash crops like ginger and cardamom. Many houses near Ilam (a town) were all very beautiful with blue, white, and red ochre paint and a lot of flowers, especially marigolds which they use in their festivals and religious ceremonies. The religion/culture is a mix of Hundu, Buddhism and animism.

I always love the children, and took a lot of photos of them. This morning back in Kathmandu I visited an orphanage run by the same guy who was organizing the eco-tour (Not Brian, who runs the Red Panda Project, but the guide company he hired to run the camping/food/trekking - but Achyut Guragain of Sea & Sky Tours) and these children were all orphans from the Maoists war againt the villagers. Their parents were killed by Maoists, or their parents were Maoists and killed in fighting. It's very sad. One girl there, who was my daughter's age, is just beautiful and spoke perfect English and I felt a connection with her. I saw in her eyes the longings of youth, hope for a future better than the one she had and determination to succeed and live fully. Her next years will be so formative and important.. A few of the kids have mothers back in their home districts still alive but are too poor to take care of the children, or abusive, etc. I may sponsor one of the children there. Only $1000/month (US) pays for the entire group of 25 kids food and schooling! So something like $30/month would sponsor a single child. I'll post a link to their website when I get home. Well I need to go catch a ride to the airport. I'll post again when I can!

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