Monday, November 30, 2015

Eco Farm

Finally. I'm not even attempting to organize these photos. I wrote this 2 1/2 months ago.

Our first stop in Nepal was a farm in the south, right near Chittwan National Park. We found this opportunity through workaway, a website that sets volunteers up with hosts around the world. In a lot of places this means you can sleep and eat for free in exchange for your work, but it countries like Nepal it's common to charge a small fee. So we pay $5 a day for food. We intended to come straight here from the airport, but there is only a tourist bus in the morning so we stayed in Kathmandu. And since Jordan was still struggling with her stomach, we stayed an extra night to get to a pharmacy and try to get something moving before we left a big city. While she was waiting for it to work, I was able to do a walking tour of the area between Thamel and Durbur Square. I was just going to use my Lonely Planet kindle guidebook, but an art student from Nepal started talking to me and showing me around. It kind of had scam written all over it, but he assured me he didn't want money. Plus he showed me everything in the guidebook and we got some chai. Then he asked me to buy some food for the festival coming up. I couldn't say no... even though I knew it was a scam. I just told him I only had a certain amount of money so he put a lot of stuff back. Oh well, everyone there needs it more than me with the earthquake a few months ago and the current fuel crisis. Plus, I had a lot of fun.

Part of the farm - I slept in that round building a couple nights
swimming in the river - we could see India!

Watering the newly planted seed babies

Jungle walk

We got our tickets for the tourist bus the next morning from our hostel so they could keep a bit of commission. So bright and early in the morning we walked to a street where there were tons of busses lined up. We found ours and got some tea and fruit for breakfast. Finally it was time to go on the mostly empty bus. We drove to the outskirts of the city and then stopped. And didn't go. I realized we probably didn't have fuel, so I went outside. Turns out, 1/3 of the busses had fuel already so we should have gone without a ticket and asked. Oh well! The driver had to wait in line for a number that would allow him to get gas. While we were waiting for 2 hours, we talked to the other two Americans on our bus who were a father and son duo. We also met Richard, an American who had been living in Brazil but now spends his time mostly in Turkey and Pokhara, Nepal as a paragliding guide. He told us the company he works for so we're looking forward to trying it! We finally got going again and drove about 5 hours to a town called Narayanghat. The directions then just said get on a local bus for Meghauli and ask for Eco Farm. We just kept asking people till we found it. After about an hour we saw a sign for the Eco Farm and got off. We were led by Bishnu, the man who runs this place, to the volunteer area where the other 5 volunteers were drinking tea. They told us they were supposed to be working so we got started right away! We planted some beans and garlic and then it was time for dinner. The days here are pretty relaxing.
Taking the buffalo cart to go pick up cement and a solar cooker
Some of us get up at 5:30 to go for a long walk down the road. One day, we were on the edge of the national park and we saw a rhino! Just chewing grass and looking back at us. Then we relax and drink lemongrass tea before we work from 8-10am. Mostly we've been digging new gardens and clearing our grass and weeds. We're trying to make it look nice for the festival coming up. Then we eat lunch, which is usually dal bhaat. Rice, lentils and veggies. Yum. I don't think I'll ever get tired of it. After we eat, we can rest or wash clothes or go to the local school, which Jordan and I did our first day. They were missing teachers so we taught! She was the science teacher, and I did English, math and science for 1st, 6th and 3rd graders. There's also the town nearby with some shops. Around 2-3, we drink more tea and then work again from 3-5. We've been doing a lot of watering in the evening when it's getting less hot and it's actually pretty fun. Better than digging and picking grass. We have a little time after work to shower and relax, and then we eat more dal bhaat. I'm pretty much always in bed by 8pm.

Getting ready for Tihar
We spent 2 weeks and had a great time getting to know the village, the locals and the other volunteers. We got to celebrate Tihar, a big festival that includes different blessing day for different animals, Diwali, the festival of lights when the goddess of wealth Lakshmi is invited into everyone's home, and brother/sister day, where you get a fancy tika (mark on your forehead) and sisters receive money and brothers receive sweets. The whole village was covered in lights and the kids go around singing and dancing to collect money. It was cool to be in a place where we were part of the festival, but we were ready to be done listening to the festival songs blasting at full volume 24/7!

Riding on the roof on the way to Pokhara

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