Caitlin’s Post: #2

Post number two….To pick up where Phil left off.

Quick note in regards to the rubble that Phil mentioned. We were chatting with some folks we met who are all currently living and working in Nepal and apparently, a number of months ago, the Nepali government decided it was time to widen the roads. As a result, portions of all of the buildings were demolished in order to make room. Apparently, the people have known that this was going to happen for many many years. But it finally happened. Some of the project nearer to where we are living has been completed and you would never really know it happened. Along the route to work, however, piles and piles remain of what WAS a number of store fronts and houses. Basically, people are in the process of rebuilding what they have left a few meters back from where it was. There is bamboo scaffolding everywhere and one can’t help but wonder about the location of load bearing walls….!!

Anyway.

Sunday afternoon. We are sitting in our hostel room after a busy morning of touring around Durbar Square just southwest of the district we are staying in. The square is packed full of temples and idols built over many hundreds of years by different Kings. For about $5 we got a tour with commentary on all the exciting bits. One of the larger buildings in the square was built after the late Nepali King visited Buckingham Palace and decided he wanted one. We also caught a glimpse of Kumari, the current living Goddess who, as we understand it, is a little bit like the female Dalai Lama except that she gets the boot once she reaches puberty. Basically, she is recruited by the Nepali people at the age of 4 and put in a dark room filled with snakes, blood and sacrificed animal heads. If she is upset by this and cries, she is not brave or strong enough to be a God. If she smiles and enjoys the experience, she is worthy of becoming Kumari, a reencarnation of the God Shiva’s wife, Parvati. Once selected, Kumari lives in a house in the square where she studies and is not allowed to leave but for once a year during a festival in her honour. She does, however, come to the window at least once a day to let weirdo tourists like us catch a glimpse. Fascinating culuture to say the least.

Since Phil last posted, we spent two days between the Hospital and the School. Typically we are spending mornings in the school working with children (but primarily still observing) with various disabilities and afternoons doing rounds at the hospital where we are still seeing the two young burn patients we met on the first day along with a few others. So far, the experience has been moving, inspiring and exhausting. In addition to Lou, we are also working with a local therapist named Sam and a therapist from Holland who has a personal affiliation with SERC. It is great to have so many people to be interacting with. We are also in the process of setting up a new outpatient physio room at the hospital. The room has been freshly painted and the Aussi med students are currently working on a Winnie the Pooh mural to liven it up a touch. Phil and I are planning to use many of the donations we received to fill the space and make it a functional PT resource for the hospital. Finally, we are working on a couple of projects on the side with our CI to hopefully help to educate parents on what PT is and how it can help their children. Days are full but as we are slowly able to stay up past 8 o’clock, we hope to be able to bring everything together by the end of our six weeks here.

Outside of work hours we have been getting to know the madness that is Thamel- the tourist district. Endless delicious local and continental food to be had. Generally meals cost less than $5 and I have been religiously overeating. Better get that under control. The wares for sale everywhere range from Buddhist prayer flags to North Face altitude suits. Dad- You would have a hay day with all of the “great deals”. So far we have maintained self control and stayed out of the gear shops but I know the day is coming when we will have to check it out. Last night we attempted a walk to “Freak Street” (so named due to its populatity in the 70s with mad Hippies, poets and musicians – Cat Stevens has a song about it) but ended up getting a little lost on the way. We decided it best to hop in a Rik-Shaw and endure the ride of shame back to tourist town.

All in all, so far so good. Loving the madness of it all which I am likening to Guatemala on speed. We booked a flight to Jomsom for next weekend which will give us our first tast of the Himalayas. Escaping the dust and noise will be a welcome change of pace.

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