because i haven't written in a while (there have been a few failed attempts on behalf of the random electricity ourtages and internet screwiness), i figured i'd just relay some of the choice happenings of the past 5 days...beginning with our departure from kathmandu.
after the crazy day spent with guru traveling around kathmandu city, we were about citied out. so many people everywhere, we were just ready to head down to chitwan and the orphan home. little did we know the randomness we would encounter next. i'm not really sure what we were expecting, if we were expecting anything, but our arrival at the orphan home was both the most hilarious and overwhelming experience i think i have ever had.
due to a tourist bus mishap, becca and i were booked seats on the engine of tourist bus 423 to chitwan. unsure of what this entailed, we agreed with open minds and arrived at the bus the required 30 minutes early. after a very nimble bus attendant swung down from the roof of the bus to collect our bags (and strap them tightly to the top), another attendant pointed out our seats. we were indeed sitting on the engine, but it was probably the sweetest seat on the bus. sitting front and center, albeit a little uncomfortable after 5 hours on rocky roads, provided a full view of the gorgeous mountain drive from kathmandu to the south of nepal. think going-to-the-sun road, but for 5 hours. though at times oncoming truck traffic made me slightly uneasy (being the first to die on the bus crossed my mind only once), it was altogether a fabulous ride.
the bus was supposed to drop us in front of the coca-cola factory outside bharatpur, but due to some miscommunication it kept going. we screamed at the bus driver to stop, and about 3/4 mi down the road it came to a halt. After our bags were tossed from the top, we stood beside the road wondering how we were going to trek back up the road with all our bags (of what seemed like bricks). A friendly voice came screaming up to us, "Me, Laxmi!! Girls! Laxmi, me!!" following the voice was none other than our orphan home director/mother, Ms. Laxmi. The tiny ball-of-fire woman ran up and embraced both of us, retelling how she saw our tour bus pass coca cola, in broken hurried english, as she screamed at a rickshaw driver to stop. pushing us at the rickshaw, she told us to sit. wondering what would happen to our bags, she immediately piled them on top and underneath us. Two of the smaller bags hung from the bike's handlebars. Not able to see my own legs (or feel them) Laxmi strategically grabbed my feet and forced them into a position that locked in my bags while keeping my body upright.
off we went, 2 people, 6 bags and a rickshaw, down a very much unpaved road to harka. halfway down the road ms. laxmi blazes up behind us (after putting us on the rickshaw, she had disappeared) on a purple scooter, salwar kameez blowing in the wind. hollering at me to get off and join her, i abandon rebecca and the bags on command. I was the first to arrive at the orphanage due to my change in transportation, and was greeted by a herd of smiling children, hands clasped, screaming, "Namaste!"
I realized, at this point, that I had no idea what I was getting myself into. All control that I thought I had, was lost. Now it was just us, 15 adorable Nepali children and one screaming, hilarious orphan home mother. The latter spoke almost no english, and when she did each sentence was repeated approximately 4 times. i was escorted into a room, handed a baby, and told to sit. 30 eyes stared at me. i decided to practice the one nepali phrase i remembered from the day before, "Tapai ko nam ki ho?" What is your name ?(and later would find out this is the incorrect way to say it). Rebecca arrived on the rickshaw shortly thereafter, and our time at Harka began.
The past 5 days the children have been on winter vacation from school, and it has been a handful. needless to say, we have gotten to know them pretty well. they have been teaching us a lot of nepali (which is horribly hard for me to learn) and we've been teaching some english. moreso though, we've just been trying to get to know them. they are all very open, loving kids, and we've mostly been someone new to play with. we've been trying to get our ground and figure out where our place is (which is especially hard with the language barrier...) , as well as how to use latrines , bathing under a pump (this won't happen very much), and how to properly help with cooking. ms. laxmi continues to be the biggest spaz i have ever met, as she works 12 hours a day and then comes back to the orphanage to force-feed us nepali words. yesterday she took us to a "program", that turned out to be a state fair of sorts, complete with fair food and scary rides. becca and i did not partake in either, which i think may have disappointed laxmi, but it was wholly overwhelming.
i would really like to touch on each child at some point, as time goes on, but right now i'm still trying to get all the names down! luckily we have 14-year-old Ramesh, who loves practicing english and is also extremely talkative. he is the leader of the group, keeping everyone in line and makes sure all the chores are done. he also lines up all their flip flops in size order outside the door.