So it's a Saturday afternoon and I've got the day off. I feel like I'm settling into my routine pretty well, so I thought I'd make that the subject of today's entry - my usual day in Pokhara:
I get up at about 8am and stumble into my fairly comfortable ensuite. On using the toilet I opt for a handful of Western style toilet paper rather than giving myself a Nepali Dirty Hand for the rest of the day, which is what the tap, jug and bucket next to the toilet are meant for. Although it does come in handy if you ever fancy giving yourself a refreshing foot wash whilst sat on the loo! This is the reason why it is considered very rude to shake hands, touch anyone or eat with your left hand and money in shops is always transferred with the right hand.
My shower is pretty weak and always stone cold, but after a hot night's sleep it's very welcome. The window doesn't have a curtain so if any of the farmers on the paddy fields outside chose to look up in my direction they'd see a very shivery woman with the most ridiculous tanlines trying desperately hard to get the stinging Nepali soap out of eyes... I try to dress as conservatively as possible, as is the custom out here, which is difficult in this heat. It's also the reason behind the silly tan - lovely brown arms, face, neck and toes and completely pallid everything else!
Although a couple of the volunteers venture out to Lakeside for their breakfast I prefer to let Bindu make me a banana pancake which is delicious when drenched in butter and honey. This is served with the traditional Nepali milk tea which I'm pretty sure also has butter in - may be coming home a little heavier than I left at this rate... It's then a half hour's walk to work, either at the Shree Krishna Lower Secondary School or the street kids' centre. Next week I'll be visiting the orphanage which is in the countryside a little to the north of Pokhara and in a couple of weeks I may be able to help out at Annapurna Primary and a new pre-school which is due to open soon. I haven't really had much of a chance to get stuck into any proper work yet as most schools are on their summer holidays (term starts again on the 25th July) and the children at the street kids place have been having their medical check ups at the local hospital this week.
After work, our time is our own. So far I've spent some time wondering around Lakeside, doing a spot of shopping and sitting and looking out at the lake and I've also taken a bus to Mehandrapur to buy myself a sim card and have a bite to eat. We don't really have cooking facilities back at the flat, so eating out is the only way to get fed. So far every meal I've had has been delicious - lots of curries and dhal blaat (cooked and served in the traditional Nepali way) but I've also had an amazing pizza and some pretty good enchiladas! It's all very cheap, I haven't paid more than 300 rupees for a meal yet (it's pretty much 100 ruppes to the pound, which makes conversions very easy).
After dinner and maybe a couple of drinks at a Lakeside bar, it's time to find our way back through the darkened streets to the flat. There is an 11pm curfew for the Nepali people so it gets pretty quiet by then, and the police tend to be around making sure that shops are getting closed and people are making their way home. Once home it's time to wind down and maybe do a spot of planning for the next day if anyone is teaching. I then have to check every corner of my room for insects and creatures before I feel comfortable enough to get in to bed. So far, I've had the pleasure of sharing my room with a wide assortment of little microbugs with various stinging and biting abilities; an amazing glowbug that fooled me into thinking that I'd left something electrical on standby when it flashed its bottom at me in the dark; a very cute gecko and a ferocious looking armoured spider which made the loudest crunch when I crushed it with my shoe..!
And then hopefully it's off to sleep - earplugs are coming in very handy to block out the sounds of the fan, the crickets and weird spooky birds as well as the early morning visitors to the church which is just underneath my window. Boy can the Nepalis belt out a hymn when they want to!
Sorry to be unable to post any photos on the blog yet - there's a few on facebook and that'll possibly have to do for now. The computers have a habit of doing what they please out here - show them an SD card and they'll show you an error message!
That's it for now, off to buy some warm juice (there don't seem to be many fridges out here) then sit on my roof terrace and read a bit more of the Stephen King book some other kind volunteer left behind.
All the best, V x