In just three weeks, I’ll be taking off on one of the biggest adventures of my life. In less than three days, my fiancé, Gene, is taking off for an 8-month military deployment. I’m sure it goes without saying that this is both a very exciting and very trying time. I’m so proud of my Marine and will miss him more than I can anticipate or explain. At the same time, I am so looking forward to my opportunity to explore Nepal.
I’ll be traveling to Kathmandu with my friend, Anna. We’ve both spent the past several weeks planning and preparing – booking plane tickets, applying for visas, arranging for dog and house sitters, and getting the necessary vaccinations. I ended up with a bruise the size of a baseball from getting shots to protect against typhoid, adult polio, hepatitis A and hepatitis B. I could barely lift my arm for days!
We’ll be spending our time in Nepal engaging in some voluntourism – splitting our time between travel and volunteer work. We’ll be living in a house with other volunteers and mid-week we’ll be working in the mornings in a small, privately-run orphanage. In the afternoon, we’ll be teaching English and basic computer skills to young monks in a Buddhist monastery. We’ll use long weekends and evenings to travel and explore. So far we hope to rent boats and explore the city of Pokhara, visit the elephants in Chitwan, and possibly look into either rafting or trekking with a sherpa in the Himalayas. But who knows where our travels will lead us?!?
I’ve learned that the orphanage where we’re volunteering has extremely limited resources and the children that live there share only two toys. I’ve seen pictures of bare walls and book-less shelves. So I’m planning to pack an extra suitcase full of coloring books, crayons, bubbles, toys, games, and anything I can carry to bring these kids some joy and access to the little things that we often take for granted.
As Gene has been packing and preparing for his deployment, he found several pairs of sunglasses that he’s used for various other military deployments and exercises. He’s given me around a dozen pairs to take to Nepal, which I hope to leave with the young men in the monastery.
Anna and I have been reading blogs from previous volunteers and talking to friends and family who have traveled to Nepal for advice on what to see, what to do, and what to know before we go. We’ve received so much support and enthusiasm and have been fortunate to get some excellent and legitimate pointers from people who are invested in our trip including Anna’s uncles, my college friend who travels to Kathmandu for work, various family friends, and a friendly Nepalese server at a local Indian restaurant.
My favorite two (less serious) suggestions so far are: 1) Watch out for thieving monkeys. They are pickpockets and will steal the scarf from around your neck if you’re not careful. 2) The best way to avoid a rhino attack is to run in a zig-zag because they can’t turn their bodies that quickly. Don’t run straight because rhinos are fast. Good to know…
The next few weeks and months are uncertain and exciting, and I’m looking forward to the unknown adventures ahead and sharing them with you here, through stories and pictures in this online journal.
Most importantly, I want to thank my mother, sister, fiancé, boss and co-workers. You have all supported me as I have considered, planned and committed to this trip. You are taking care of my home and work while I’m away and have agreed to this selflessly without question or hesitation. It’s an understatement to say that I could not do this without you. I am so fortunate to have each of you on my team. Thank you.