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Saturday, July 24, 2010

A different trip with kids......

We are back in Kathmandu. Back to hot showers, towels, beds with sheets and pillows and the Kathmandu congestion and chaos. The difference between upper Mustang and this city is astounding. Here are more comforts and variety of foods, there we had serene landscape and primitive living.
I guess my focus has been how different this trip has been for me because of the girls. Our friend Pema, who lives in Kagbeni at the famous Red House, went with us to Lo. She said that we needed 7 people, because 7 was luckier than 6. She took her horse Sakpa for Ella to ride. Before we left for the trek, the girls came running into our room telling me that Pema showed them how to milk her cow!
Carol, Pema has the sign that your students made for her when she visited your classroom framed and hanging in the Red House!
When we get past Jomsom, the toilets are squats, not commodes. Ella would try, but she just couldn't let go when she was in there. She was so worried that she would get her clothes wet, so I started undressing her from the waist down every time she needed to go. Suddenly, she announced to me that she could use the "squattee" by herself and didn't need me anymore. We teased Mary that although she was potty trained before Ella, Ella was "squattee-trained" at an earlier age than she was.
Our second night, Mary woke me up at midnight (we went to bed at 8) with a stomach ache. We have to get up and get dressed and get a head lamp to go to the toilet (which is a separate, closet sized room from the bath (shower) room. Actually, there isn't a toilet at all, but a squat, and Mary has the distinction of being the first to throw up in a squattee. That night for me was anxious, because after 2 days of trekking in the middle of what feels like nowhere, I was scared to death that Mary was really ill and I was wondering what I was going to do. There were no cars...would I stay behind with her for a day and let her rest? I thought I could get her a horse but would she be able to ride? I knew Narayan would help me but in the middle of the night I didn't know what that help would be, so I lay awake, questioning for the first time my decision to bring the girls with me.
Thankfully she slept the rest of the night with no more vomiting, and announced at breakfast that she was fine and ate 2 packets of oatmeal. She wanted no part of riding Sakpa, she wanted to walk. I could have danced with joy. I love my tough girl!
Ella draws a lot of attention. Several times as we walk through villages, especially the older women will blow past all of us and walk up to Ella, smiling and holding her face in their hands. Because of her short hair, she is often thought to be a boy, but she takes it all in stride and smiles and gives them her sweetest "Namaste." They are sweet to Mary, too, but she is taller than most of them, and I don't think they realize she is only 12.
The girls don't mind the DAYS between showers. The only warm one on our trek was at Pema's sister Thari's guest house. There we were also able to wash out some laundry, by hand, in a bucket in the shower. I got to do pants, underwear, shirts, socks times THREE! Ella helped me rinse and hang everything on the line.
The trekking is HARD. I am well aware now of how old and NOT in shape I am. I think, after a 45 minute steep, zig-zagged climb, that it HAS to be the end of climbing for the day. But no.......we start descending, then cross a stream, then back up we go. Then we do it two more times. My legs feel like a combination of twisted knots and jello. Whenever one of us stumbles on a rock or slides on loose dirt, we say, "Nice Yak-Dance!" The porters are great, and one of them stays right with each of us. They are very watchful for dangerous places, and especially great about knowing when to get Ella off her horse to walk. We see wild blue sheep, running up and down sheer cliffs that I can't imagine a bug walking without falling.
Watching Mary walking way ahead with the strong girls Jenna and Ashley, watching the porters shower Ella with protective and playful attention, listening to Narayan, our guide, tell the girls the story of why the mountains are three different colors (ask one of them to tell you), the shock of walking into Karma's kithcn in the Dancing Yak and seeing Ella in her chuba Pema gave her, chopping greens and cauliflower and washing dishes, acting quite at home....these are some of my many memories. And they solidify my decision to bring them here with me.
We miss everyone back home. Mary and Ella talk about who they want to see, who they will tell/show different things, what they want to eat when they get back to Blacksburg. Ella REALLY wants a Mike's burger. Please know that all of your comments are like the baked chocolate Snickers...real cherished treats.
Thanks for thinking of us.
Love, Reba

8 comments:

Carl Hoffman said...

Very nice! It's been a long time since we've heard from you and glad to know all is well. Hard to believe it's been almost a month, huh? Take care and enjoy the "comforts" of KTM. Shower the girls with hugs and kisses for me, I can't wait to hear more about your and their travels!
Carl

Eli said...

Hopefully I am not posting this twice - I think my first attempt failed.

So glad to see a note from you all again. I only "know" you, Mary and Ella, but through the wonderful blogs from the rest of the team, I feel like I know everyone. Its been like reading an incredible short novel and I'm so glad to have some more chapters to read! Glad you all are safe and happy - but for heaven's sake, PLEASE quit talking about those baked snickers!!!! : ) See you soon! Deanna

Joe and Carol said...

Oh sweet girlfriend Reba...what a cool everlasting experience you are having with your girls! Thank you for sharing some of it with us. And, sweet Pema framed the welcome sign...wow...what an honor to have a sliver of BMS in Nepal. I'm so happy that you are all healthy and safe after your miraculous journey. Miss you! Love you! Carol

Andrea said...

Hello my amazing girlfriend mamma! So great to read your thoughts about this incredible experience you are sharing with your strong girls. I love hearing about how "at home" they've quickly become and it's obvious the gifts you are enjoying watching them during this trip.
I can't wait to hug you and hear so many, many stories. Thinking of you often.
Love,
Andrea

Anonymous said...

Love, love, love hearing about everyone's adventure. Thank you so much for taking the time to share. So sad for Jane's loss. Glad to hear that all travelers are well and bringing back spice for life into the indefinite future. Keep taking care of yourselves and each other.
Kim

Suzan said...

Dear, dear Reba-your writing is so full of the joy you are feeling watching your sweet little girls growing up before your eyes in ways you could never have imagined! Reading all the entries from you and your fellow travelers is better than anything the Travel Channel has to offer!!! Can't wait to see and talk to all of you when you return. Love,Suzan

Rachel said...

Reba, so nice to see another blog filled with such unique adventures in a far away land about the experiences you and Mary and Ella are having. It is hard to really imagine all you are seeing and doing, so many names of places we have never even heard of! As for Ella being the 1st to master squatting, could have predicted that - if she would have been born first, Mary and Rachel probably would never be able to keep up with her! And I still can't get over Mary trekking all that way without a horse or you too for that matter. You must be in better shape than you think, mentally and physically! You really are a world away from here, the little suburban life with grocery shopping, laundry, and dinners on the deck looking at the little Blue Ridge Mts etc...Rosie says hello and miss you and the girls to say nothing of Carl although he and the rest of us are hanging tough and we miss you very much. With the last start to the new school year, you and the girls will have more time to rest when you return (sorry to talk about it as I am sure you are still trying to do as much as you can before you leave) and sit on the deck to tell us all of your tales and show us all of your treasures. Rachel and I are off on our last vacation this summer tomorrow, off to spend the better part of a week in Outer Banks to celebrate my grandmother's 100 birthday with a 50 relatives in two beach houses, 15+ kids, a pregnant sister (its Ashley, don't panic), and too many adults to count. Rachel will meet her cousins from Alaska for only the second time in her life. Safe travels back and hopefully we will see you the week of the 9th of August! Love, Kristi

Anonymous said...

Kristi, I can't WAIT to sit on your deck and sip wine and gaze upon those soft Blue Ridge mountains! Have a great time celebrating your grandmother's 100th. You are so lucky to still have her.
We will see you soon.
Love you!
R