Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Welcome to the Far West

The Far Westen region of Nepal is most often described as being "less developed." I thought that description was super vague and unhelpful until I moved there. Less developed is exactly what it is. There are fewer roads, lower population density, more homes and villages with no access to electricity, fewer cement buildings, fewer private schools and colleges, you see less western style clothing, have access to fewer luxury goods, and the people hold stronger to traditional beliefs. Aside from that, the Far West is very much like every other part of  Nepal I have ever experienced. I suppose when you get down to it, Nepal is Nepal no matter where you go.

The biggest town in my area, Gaira.

I get to enjoy the most amazing sunrises every morning right outside my bedroom door.

I don't know what it is about nurseries that make me so happy, but after stumbling upon this one one day, I fell in love with my community all over again.


A typical training given by my counterpart

Learning how to build improved cook stoves

Getting to meetings isn't always so easy. Many villages are not connected to a road and footpaths aren't always as clearly marked as you would expect. It makes for some fun adventures, as long as you don't mind getting lost in the wilderness too much. 

Potato test plots

Holi: festival of colors

Creative fundraising - this woman's group danced around in the middle of the highway until vehicles trying to get through made a donation. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014


The last few weeks have been a bit of an emotional casserole as I prepared to leave one home and move on to another. There was the stress of finishing projects,  the boredom of having everything done and it still not being time to go, the sadness of leaving a family and community I love, excitement for a new adventure, anxiety of travelling across the country on public transportation with all my stuff all alone, jealousy of my friends going home... Rather than try to make any sense of it all, I think I'll just throw it all at you in a jumble kind of like it is in my head.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Visit Aarupata

Nepal is a land of incredible natural beauty and rich cultural diversity.  Whether you come for trekking or to visit the numerous world heritage sites, it will be well worth your while to set a few days aside to visit one of the rural villages.

Aarupata is a small village located in Syangja district in the mid-hills of western Nepal.  Until a few years ago, Aarupata was just another a typical rural village dominated by subsistence agriculture.  Women would often spend as much as 5 hours each day just carrying enough water to meet household needs.  Following the instillation of a solar-powered water lifting system, everything changed. Come see the innovations that have transformed this area.  Enjoy the magnificent views and experience the vibrant local culture.  Check out this video to learn a little more about the area and why you should come visit.

Aarupata's tourism industry is still very young and developing.  For the time being, feel free to contact me with any questions or to make reservations.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Dasain '71

Dasain is the celebration of the goddess Durga's victory over evil and is Nepal's biggest holiday. My family began our celebrations with a massive spring cleaning and repainting the house.

In typical Nepali fashion, while the women were busy at home working, the boys were off playing in a volleyball tournament.

Un castrated goats (and clocks and male buffalo), representing vices such as lust and anger, were sacrificed at home and at the temple.

That puddle is still there by the way and gets walked through barefoot all the time with no one caring

Sacrifices mean lots of meat for days and days after, which is fed to all the family that stops by.

The climax of the 10 day celebration is the receiving of tika (rice on the forehead representing a blessing) from the matriarch and patriarch of the family, along with a small bundle of barely shoots and a bit of cash.

My uncle preparing the barley shoots

Everyone being so busy left me with very little to do. My sister in law finally took pity on me and took me with her to visit her home village.


For a Peace Corps volunteer, coming up with productive and appropriate ways to use your time and benefit your community can sometimes be a challenge. You can never go wrong working at a school though. Everyone loves you and you have an audience that has no choice but to listen to you. It also makes you appreciate weekends and holidays so much more.

Drawing pictures of foods from the different food groups

Practicing teeth brushing

Playing games

UNO is very educational, right? 

My kindergarten-2nd graders thought it would be great fun to lock me in the classroom with them. It was cute and funny for the first 5 seconds or so, but got old fast. It was much less appreciated the second time it happened. For all you parents who taught your children discipline and obedience from a young age, thank you. 


Monsoon is hanging laundry out to dry in the rain 
in the hope that the sun will come out soon

Monsoon is cucumbers and roasted corn and gorging on the sweet red figs ripening amongst shaded roots on terrace walls

Monsoon is the persistent serenading of mosquitoes and leaches grown fat on the blood of unwary travelers

Monsoon is roads turned to rivers and mud pits and ruts deep enough to drown tail lights

Monsoon is fields vibrant with young rice nourished by the sweat of women

Monsoon is heat and mold and endless labour
Monsoon is the lifeblood of Nepal

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Weekend getaway in Butwal

My mom and I have been talking about going down to Butwal to visit my oldest sister and her family for over a year now. A few weeks ago during breakfast I casually asked where everyone was going that day. It took me a bit by surprise when it was announced that my mom was headed to Butwal and I was invited to come along. After a few minutes of panic at having to make a sudden decision,  I figured why not? And off we went.

Butwal is one of the larger cities of Nepal,  located in the flat lands, or Teri,  just past where the mid hill region ends. The drive to Butwal is beautiful, but a little hard on the stomach.  I lost my breakfast within the first half hour and never really had a chance to recover.

The Teri is a bit warm for comfort during summer,  but is great for riding bikes. I hadn't realised how much I missed that.

I only had one full day to stay, so my nieces took me in hand and showed me the town. We started out at the zoo. It wasn't much by American or European standards and I could see someone who is passionate about animal rights not being a fan, but overall I thought it was one of the nicer places I've been to in Nepal that hasn't been built up just for tourists. In fact,  it reminded me a bit of the zoo and botanical gardens in Stuttart,  Germany, just a little. .. different.

Butwal vs Stuttgart

We didn't feel like going home after the zoo, so wandered through a big outdoor market and then around the city a bit.

It would have been a perfect day if it had ended there. Instead the local Gurung community decided to be very generous and throw a party in my honor. I am neither particularly social nor a night person, so I may not have reacted so well to a party that didn't start until after my bedtime and ended past midnight and that consisted of lots of speeches and dancing.

I'm ashamed to admit how shallow I am, but I cheered up considerably once they began showering me with gifts.

And so the weekend ended on a positive note after all. The next morning I climbed back on a bus and headed home. Butwal doesn't have the best reputation among volunteers (mainly due to a lack of good foreign food), but I will always remember it fondly.