Riding in the van with Mukti, our driver, is like being on a low speed roller coaster for six hours, without all the fun flips and dives. This is especially true when you hit the “road rapids” – places where the road has a series of unexpected bumps, or disintegrates into nothing but dirt and rocks. I’ve discovered that the important question here in Nepal is now how quickly your car can go from 0-60, but how quickly your car can go from 60-0. One second can literally prevent a wreck from happening, or the van bottoming out (again), or someone being run over. And the only way it works is for everyone to drive the same way. It is madness, yet somehow it works, although I’ve never been happier to arrive at a destination than when we pulled back into our hotel in Kathmandu.
We enjoyed getting to know Mukti this week as he braved the roads for hours on end, driving us to our various destinations. He is married to Sumitra, and they have two children who are 9 and 4. They are a Hindu family, and their kids love watching Go Diego Go!, and Sean the Sheep. His grandmother has 9 children, 50 grandchildren and almost 100 great-grandchildren, and he was able to spend some time with her this week while we were in Pokhara. He has a great sense of humor, loves to eat, and loves his family.
On Wednesday morning me, Sarah, Brad and Autumn went on an Elephant Safari Walk. Our Elephant was named Ranekalu (rah-nee-kah-loo), which translates to Black Queen. She had quite the personality, and as we walked through the jungle she kept grabbing branches off the trees with her trunk and smacking herself on the head to keep the bugs off. During the walk we saw Rhinos, wild boar, spotted deer, big deer, and some birds. Our guide went rogue, separating from the rest of the group and wandering off in the jungle to see if we could find some more animals. That is when we found the boar and the deer, so it was a successful jaunt. It was hard to take pictures with all the jostling, but we got a few good shots.
Pokhara could easily be called paradise. Sitting next to a lake at the base of the Anapurna mountain range, the city has 360 degrees of breathtaking views. We were able to visit 3 of the 5 children’s homes during our two days there, and it was a joy and blessing to see the smiles of the children, and the passion and care of the parents. Each home has between 10-15 kids, and these children are growing up to be difference makers in the country of Nepal. They are so precious, and their stories of redemption and survival are encouraging and challenging to hear.
Today (Saturday) is our final day in Kathmandu, and it happens to be the Nepali new year, as they follow a different calendar. Happy 2070! I suppose one could claim time travel, since it is 2013 at home, and 2070 here in Nepal. There will be many celebrations around the country today, and on our drive home yesterday we passed several towns all decked out in banners and bright colors for the new year. The past two weeks have alternately flown by and seemed to last an eternity. I have learned and grown so much on this trip, and whatever the future brings, I am excited to walk each step knowing Christ is with me. If I don’t get to post again here in Nepal, I look forward to sharing more once I am home! Thanks for journeying with me!
P.S. The internet connection is still super slow, so no pictures at this time. More to come later!