I am writing this as I make the journey from rural Chitwan to the crazy Kathmandu. The bus is so full that I am up front with the driver, sandwiched between two men. Cosy. I have an amazing view of the scenery though.. I still cannot get over how beautiful this country is. Neither can I get used to the bus flying around mountain bends and seeing that the wheels of the bus are a mere half a foot from the edge of a thousand foot drop.
I left my volunteer project having resisted the urge to bring the beautiful children with me in my rucksack. I am sad to see the end of this week. It has been amazing meeting the children and volunteers and really learning about the Nepali way of life. Chitwan is extremely beautiful. I was in Happy Home, which is a home were about 16 kids live whose parents cannot look after them. It is situated in the middle of nowhere in Chitwan National Park. It is ages from any type of village or town. I hardly ever saw any cars and buses.. Only peddle bikes and carts pulled by buffalo. It was honestly like a scene from hundreds of years ago. So unspoilt. It was very hot and humid. The hottest I have experienced yet on my trip. The bugs were something else too.. Mosquitos and flies everywhere along with grasshoppers, cockroaches, beetles and spiders the size of your hand! The home is run by a lady called Basanti who all the kids (and volunteers) call Mommy. She was such an inspirational person - her work ethic was unreal. It was interesting to see what life for a Nepali woman is like.
It seems like no time ago that I travelled to Chitwan to begin my placement, but at the same time it feels like I was there ages. I feel like I got to know the volunteers and kids really well - hard to believe it was only a few days. The project was very relaxed. Within a day I lost track of the time, the date and what day it was. The rough daily routine was: up at 6am (the sound of the animals outside or else the kids banging on your door telling you to get up meant there was no need for an alarm). We did some work in the garden and then cut vegetables in the kitchen for breakfast. We then would serve breakfast to the kids, eat ours and then see the kids off to school. A couple of hours chilling, maybe sit the treehouse, go for a dander or else back to bed. When the kids got back from school we would play with them. A few times we brought them to a nearby river for a swim. The last time we went we heard a tiger growl about ten foot from us.. terrifying. We would help in the kitchen again for lunch and dinner, then play with the kids before they went to bed. Dal Baht was on the menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is the traditional Nepalese food that consists of an unbelievable amount of rice, curried vegetables and lentil soup. I thought I had a big appetite before I met those kids - they can eat twice as much as me in half the time. I had to learn to keep up which has resulted in me having a permanent rice baby! The kids were aged 7 to 14. They were great fun! Always messing about, laughing and singing funny songs (a new Bollywood song which has the lyrics "I'm too sexy for you..."). They were also such good workers and were so well disciplined. On my last night we played outside with them and they danced and sang. It was adorable and really made me not want to to leave. I couldn't have asked for better fellow volunteers either. There were seven of us and everyone got on really well. When I was saying goodbye the kids put flowers in my hair and red paint on my forehead. A couple of the little boys gave me flowers as well. I must have looked ridiculous getting on the bus but it was just so sweet. I could not have asked for a better week. I honestly feel so blessed with my trip so far and the fact that there is still lots come is really exciting!
One last night in Kathmandu before I begin the journey tomorrow to Cambodia to visit the incredible Davy and Esther!!! :)