Today is the first work day – I still haven’t gotten a hold of my contact for the group I’m supposed to be working with here in Kathmandu, so I’ll be going with a couple of the other volunteers to their jobs. i’m spending the morning working at an orphanage here in town and then going to the hospital in the afternoon. I’m going to be calling the woman who is at the rural hospital in the mountains later today to see when she could use me. I hear she’s a public health practitioner and so I could actually be helpful to her. I think I might tentatively plan on next week for my mountain week – that will definitely be internet free, so I’ll let you know if I will be disappearing for a week or so.
Yesterday was our official sight seeing day – we took a bus up to the Swayambhunath temple (also known as the monkey temple) and got some great pictures – our guide was attacked by a monkey and he stole her ice cream cone. Yes, I have a picture of the cheeky monkey eating the ice cream cone up a tree – little bastard. Lunch was momos – little steamed dumplings filled with veggies and covered in curry – insanely tasty – I burned my fingers trying to eat them (my silly co-volunteer had a cheese sandwich). Snack that day was makia (sp?) it’s the kind of tough, starchy corn we feed to animals, thrown in the middle of a fire and cooked until black and chewy. You eat it by prying off the kernals and using them to scoop up some spices from a little packet and then throwing (no really, you are supposed to THROW the thing) into your mouth. It was also my first experience with a Nepali bus – I actually felt loads safer in a bus than in a taxi, awesome because the buses cost 10-15 rupee and the taxis are 150-200 r. At the end of the temple experience my guide started laughing at my second bottle of water and shyly told me that it’s a Nepali belief that white people are white because all the water they drink has washed them out.
After the temple I chilled out for a bit and was going to go explore the local shopping district, but a couple of the other volunteers (Hi Deanna and Georgia!) offered to take us up to Pashupatinath temple (my second world heritage site of the day) to wander around for a bit. They also knew a back way in that would save us the NR (nepali rupee) 500 entrance charge. To put that in perspective, my very filling lunch of momos and curry ran me a whopping NR 85 and a bottle of overpriced water was NR 20 – NR 500 is a LOT of money! We went in the local entrance at the back over a ton of brutal stairs and wandered around until dark. On the way back we came across a Glory to Shiva celebration that was attended by several thousand locals. We stayed and watched for awhile and ran into a young student of the temple who taught us all about the ceremony and the layout of the temple area. The best parts of running into a temple student are that he speaks lama language (I guess it’s ifferent than anything else around and you only get to learn it if you are a student at a temple) as well as excellent english and he doesn’t need tips – hurray! Turns out that they creamate everyone on a Monday during a celebration of the glory of shiva – shiva is the destroyer and re-creator and is in charge of reincarnation and creating after he has destroyed. Thus, he gets celebrated when people are sent to their next lives. Where you get cremated on the river is determined by your rank in life – royalty gets up river, the rich get mid-river and regular folk get down river. It was also a special celebration because it’s women’s month when the women get to fast every monday for the health of their husbands. Unmarried women fast in hopes of a future husband – the monks make crass jokes about this. Who knew monks made crass jokes? Learn something new every day I suppose
Unfortualtely we came home to a rather sad meal – the family who runs this house tries to make the food situation as American as possible, and kind of fails miserably. I would vastly perfer Nepali lentils and curried veg to the weird attempt at spaghetti we had last night – pasta, boiled cabbage and peppers with an oily mushroom soup on top. Ah well, the sisters that feed us are sweet and adorable and try to do everything in their power to make us all happy.
Just been informed that we are going to skip the orphanage today in favor of a longer day at the hospital.
I will fill you all in later.