Thinking of Nepal

One year ago today, I was on a plane to Korea – final destination, Kathmandu, Nepal and the trek of a life-time.  Today, I woke up to text messages and emails about a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hitting the region.  To put it in perspective, the Loma Prieta, the ’89 earthquake that hit San Francisco, was a 6.9.  The Napa quake that caused quite a bit of damage late last year was a 6.0.  A 7.8 in California would do a lot of damage….in Nepal, it’s been catastrophic.
I took the below photo on our first day out and about.  We’d just finished touring our first Durbar Square (basically the word for palace in Nepal) and were enjoying lunch at a rooftop restaurant.  I took the photo because I liked watching the people in the street below….and there was just something about the multi-colored building across the way.
10340159_10203823273406457_1344356308616713794_n-2

I found this picture of the same area online this morning.  I recognized the colored building right away.  However, most everything else, including the building I was standing on it seems, is gone.

photo credit: http://time.com/3835621/nepal-earthquake-pictures/

It’s unsettling to know that many, if not all, of the historical places I visited around Kathmandu are gone, if not forever changed.  From the first day exploring Kathmandu on a seven mile walk to the tour we took with Ron Jon (totally not how it’s supposed to be spelled, but that’s how I remember it ;)), all of those would be completely different if we took them this year….if that would even be possible now.

And that was before the trek even started.  I read an article somewhere that said the small villages were 80% damaged.  I tried to look for further information, but was unable to find any.  Not really surprising….communication and internet and phone were difficult enough to come by during normal times, I can’t imagine now.  Are the lodges we stayed in still standing….in any sort of shape that’s reparable?  Are the people who showed us nothing but kindness safe?  I can’t help but think of the woman who ran the lodge at Lobuche and knitted wool hats to sell as souvenirs.  She had a horse for rent and let me charge all of my electronic gadgets for the hourly fee, even though they ran over the hour.  Or Namche….what of the bartender who served celebratory beers on the way down, who had moved from Queens, NY, after her Sherpa husband.  And the souvenir shop owners who sold us most of our gifts….and told us we could store it in our guide’s house while we were trekking….haha.  I can only hope that they’re all safe and able to repair their homes and businesses.

And that’s not saying anything of the guides, porters, and kitchen boys who were with us every step of the way.  From the ‘sherpa saunas’ to clear my congestion to a hand up to the top of Kala Patthar to all twenty-some of them rushing out to say goodbye as we made one last trek to the Lukla airport, nothing was overlooked and they always made sure we had exactly what we needed.  I can only hope, pray, and send positive thoughts that they and their families are safe.

We’ve reached out via email, but haven’t heard back yet.  Of course, internet will be very difficult to come by, and they’re trekking with a group, so I’m sure have lots to sort out with their current group.  One of my fellow trekkers checked the site, and we think the schedule puts them somewhere near Gorak Shep, the highest point of the trek.  Hopefully it was Kala Patthar day and they would have been heading back down at the time of the quake.

All the places I’ve traveled have been special to me.  Nepal, first because of the people and second because of the history.  Never have I been somewhere that just about everyone treated you like one of their own.  I hope that they are able to rebuild and that people continue to travel there, because it truly was a life-changing experience.

10402564_10204019029380234_6812150709689758622_n-3

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s