The Baagh Ate My Letter to You…

Baagh: The Nepali word for Leopards. (which have been seen in our village recently. Sightings have resulted in an earlier curfew for the “Americans”. It is now 5:30 pm.) Apologies for ignoring all of you for so long. We’ve hit the one month mark of living in Nepal. Our internet access has been pretty spotty. But, even if we had non-stop internet access, we have very little free time. We have Nepali language classes, technical training and cultural classes each school day. In Nepal, the work/school week is six days per week, with Saturday being the day of rest (bida). What free time we have is spent studying (vocabulary, verb conjugation, and Nepal script writing), integrating into the Nepali community (seeking out situations to interact with others using our Nepal language skills), and doing chores like washing clothes (lugar dhune….which is done by hand in buckets of water). We expect to have better internet access and more time to blog after the end of our pre-service training. (about six more weeks) The intense-ness of the Peace Corps training cannot be denied. A huge amount of information is poured into our brains each day, with little time to process or practice, then the next day…..additional new information is shoved into our already full brains. But it isn’t all mentally taxing. There are physical requirements also. Our morning classes take place near our homes, but the afternoon classes are normally a 20 to 50 minute walk/hike away from our little village…..around bends and up hills. Late afternoon, we are charged with interacting with people in the village and finally after curfew, we rest, while practicing our Nepali with our host family. The schedule can be brutal. However, every once in a while, we look up from our daily rush and are stunned to a halt by awe-inspiring views. Amazing architecture will catch our eye or sometimes beautiful terraced farmland and of course…..a peek of the Himalayas on a clear day. We are finding it hard to write about our experiences here. We will type something, then reread it and delete it. There are occurrences that happen to us often that words can’t seem to express. It is similar to what people experience, when they attempt to replicate a gorgeous view with a camera…..only to realize the beauty and emotion invoked by the view cannot be translated to a photograph. And yet, we want to document and share our experiences, so we will write and photograph our life here. Hopefully, some will see past our clumsy writing to the beauty of Nepal and her people. However, a disclaimer must be provided. The description of our experiences here should not be taken as what others would experience in this land. The people of Nepal are diverse. What we experience daily in our pre-service training here in this part of Nepal will most likely be different from what we experience over the next two years at our permanent site in a different part of Nepal. Even in this small area where the Peace Corps group 201 live close together, each volunteer speaks of different host family behaviors. So, if you speak of what you read here, please don’t generalize the description or behavior as, “Well I’ve heard that in Nepal….the people are….(fill in the blank)”. What can we say about the land, the people, our experiences as foreigners in this lovely country? Nepalis are a people, rich in culture, steeped in tradition, who we find utterly fascinating. Apparently they find us fascinating also. They stare at us constantly, while we try to stare back, but can’t. Our Nepali is still so elementary that the majority of our interactions begin and quickly end with only the greeting, “Namaste”, which everyone we pass on the road seems thrilled with.   As we walk down the road, the adults we ‘Namaste’ often stop us and ask where we have been or where we are going. As we walk down the road, the children yell at us from far away and come running up to follow us asking, “What is your name?”, “Where do you come from?”, or just “Hello…hello….hello!”. Now that most of the children know our names, they yell, “Hello Stewart! Hello Vee!” During our walk home from class each day, we will look back every few minutes to see a growing crowd of children marching behind us. Many of the school kids want to practice their English with us. Many, who know we have cell phone cameras, want to have their picture taken, so they can take a peek at the photo and giggle with their friends. We, may, hopefully, have better internet access from now on. Our host family is working on getting dependable internet here in the house. That would be utterly amazing. (course we would still be limited by the number of hours per day we have electricity, which is kinda undependable….but I’m excited anyway) Without internet…..not only have we been out of touch with family and friends…….we have had little to no information about world events…..which has been a very, very strange experience.


About stewickie

Me is actually 'we'. We are a married couple, life partners and share all responsibilities on and off line. We like to learn new things, have new experiences, see new places, and meet new people.
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