Another long, full update.
In 4 days, I will be leaving Pokhara and Himalayan Children's Care Home. The 2 months I have spent volunteering and adventuring in Pokhara have been incredibly fun, silly, educational, and also difficult. But I'll start with the fun and silly.
My 21st birthday was a few weeks ago, and though I am far from all of my friends and family, the people I have met here made it a great day from start to finish. The daytime, after taking the kids to school, was spent sipping beers on a large paddle boat (big enough to fit 6 of us with room to spare!) and eating various birthday meals at our favorite restaurants. The afternoon was as usual, picking the kids up from school, tea time, homework time, dinner time, and bedtime but with many more hugs, candy, and even 51 voices singing me happy birthday in unison. After the kids were in bed, the volunteers met up at our favorite bar (bullet basecamp) and had a silly night of drinks and good food. We've become good friends with the bartenders and owners, and they made sure we had a good night. Especially because it was one of their birthdays as well! Celebrating my birthday without Miles for the first time was strange, especially because all of the attention was on me! But it was a very good day regardless.
A week after my birthday I set off on a Trekking adventure with 6 other volunteers, guided by Chhewang who works at the orphanage where I am volunteering. We decided on the Poon Hill trek which is on the Gandruk circuit and offers beautiful trails and views of the Himalayas. Similar to rafting, this adventure proved to be as difficult as it was fun. Maybe even more difficult than fun, but incredibly rewarding. It is 5 days of going up and down the mountains climbing and descending over 3,000 stairs. 5 of the 7 of us got sick ( I managed not to) which slowed us down, but everyone kept trucking and was feeling good by the time we reached the hot springs on the last night. The hour soaking in the hot springs along with the comfortable beds in the guest houses and the surprisingly hot showers (the best and hottest I've had in Nepal!) were definitely highlights of the trek, though I enjoyed myself even through the straining stretches of climbing. It feels good to know that I'm capable of completing a difficult trek! And I daydream of coming back to Nepal someday to tackle some of the more challenging ones!
Since I returned from my trek I have been relaxing, hanging out with the kids who are on holiday, and enjoying quiet time to myself. About a week ago, the volunteers were asked to teach English classes while the kids are off from school. They all already have a solid base of the language, so we mostly teach simple conversation and improve pronunciation, but it is more difficult than I thought it would be!
It's going to be strange to leave Pokhara and HCCH. Not difficult, just strange. So many volunteers come and go that I know me leaving is not a big deal to the kids and staff. But even if I am just another volunteer who came through, I know that a part of them will always be with me, and a part of me with them, whether or not they are aware of it. My time here has been good and I have learned so much, but it has been very difficult at times. A few weeks ago, the baby son of the founder and his wife passed away. They live at the orphanage and are very much part of everyday life here, so it has been unimaginably sad and difficult for everyone. Though life has carried on, especially with 51 other children to take care of, it has been an intense thing to experience. Writing about it in detail on a blog doesn't feel right to me, but it is part of my experience here, so I also feel strange not mentioning it at all. Tenzin's adorable smiling face was infectious and though he is no longer here, I will always remember that smile as one of the happy, wonderful parts of my time in Nepal. And my thoughts and comfort are with the people who feel the heaviness of their loss. Especially because, through the good and bad of these last 2 months, they have made HCCH a home for me. I am forever grateful for that.
On the 9th of April, I will leave Pokhara and take a bumpy bus ride back to Kathmandu where I'm meeting up with a Volunteer and relaxing for a few days. From the 14th-25th I will be on a Vipassana meditation retreat. 10 days of silence during which I will either lose my mind, or find it! I really don't know what to expect, but ill definitely write about it afterwards! After that, I will volunteer in a small village outside of Kathmandu called Bhaktapur for one week, then I fly back to the states on the 4th of May! This is earlier than I originally planned on leaving, but certain circumstances at home have made 4 months feel like too long to be away. I am soaking up every day of my last month here, and while I will be sad to leave this beautiful place, I will be very excited to come home!
Love and light to all <3