Tuesday, May 26, 2009


This week's challenge at I Heart Faces is to capture a silhouette. I can't wait to check 'em out.

I shot this while on spring break last month (or was it two months ago? It is all a blur now!). The kids were playing on the beach while we were waiting for dinner. This is one of those pictures that makes me smile - what a sweet season of life!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Weeping at Worship

We are so incredibly sad. Saturday morning - the Nepali "weekend" and the sabbath for Christian Nepalis - a bomb blast went off at the Catholic Church. Many were injured and two died - one of whom was a fifteen year old high school student.

People often ask if we feel safe here. My response is always yes. While you can be at the wrong place at the wrong time there are mechanisms in place to minimize that possibility. But a church? Certainly it isn't the first time a place of worship has been targeted by extremist groups. I think it is the first time here in Nepal however (I wouldn't swear to this - but certainly during our tenure this is the case.).

We attend a Protestant church where the services are in English. We did meet yesterday - but at an "undisclosed" location. Whenever we do return to our normal location I am sure that new security measures will be in place. So, so, sad.

The ability to worship without fear is not something to take for granted.

Do you know what "Namaste" means? I bow to the God in you. It is considered a peaceful gesture of respect. Interesting and frightening times we live in.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Favorite Face

My favorite face? Now this was hard to choose. As I scrolled through my archives I struggled with looking at images that I thought might be technically better or worse versus ones that elicited an emotional response in me. I have many pictures of Nepalis of course but in the end I chose my daughter.

I love this picture of my daughter (so much so it is on my blog sidebar) because it is ... so her! Her hair isn't perfect and she is a somewhat reflective girl - as well as incredibly sweet. And I think she looks just like that in this image.
Now if someone with fabulous editing capabilities would work some magic on it ... I'd love it!

I Heart Faces has requested we include the following in this post:

"I am submitting this photo into the http://www.iheartfaces.com/ Blurb Book photo contest. I am granting I ♥ Faces permission to use my photo in a printed version of a book for commercial use and possibly advertising of a photo book on both the Blurb and I ♥ Faces web sites."

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Mommy Trek

THIS IS IT! See that peak on the left .... Mt. Everest, or "Sagarmatha" in Nepali. Lhotse to the right looks as big or bigger only because it is closer. The QUEST!

So what's a Mama to do? I desperately did not want to leave Nepal without trekking in one of the high mountain ranges but also wasn't comfortable taking my kids to some of these places. The treks we have done with the kids have been at lower altitudes and for only five to six days. The treks to the Everest region have to be longer to get anywhere, the accommodations might be sketchier and the terrain just too hard for them. I know parents who have taken their kids here but ... well, not me, not now. So thanks to my VERY supportive husband (who did do a Himalayan trek before we even met - just in case there are cries of unfairness!) and a VERY helpful didi ... I abandoned them all last week and went to the Everest region with two other Mommies who were also abandoning their husbands and children.

Secretly (okay, not so secretly) I fantasized about getting a full night's rest and not doing Mommy duty (yeah yeah privilege - grin) for a week. Reality: I hardly slept the whole dang trek! But that is beside the point. We had a FANTASTIC trip with great weather, great mountain views and also, happily, great company. I think our guide shook his head a few times when we would "rest" and be chatting ... and not start to hike again for ... awhile.

So where to start and not bore you to tears? How about a rundown of the itinerary and highlights ... followed by the pictures. Typed numbers indicate how long we were supposed to trek - numbers in parenthesis indicate how much time it really took.

Day 1: Kathmandu to Lukla by itty bitty vomit inducing aircraft after waiting seven hours in the KTM airport due to bad weather. Trek three (5) hours to Phakding. Marcela started listening to an Al Gore book on her Ipod.

Day 2: Hike five (8) hours to Namche. The terrain is actually not bad. We did a harder - though shorter - trek with the kids (they were carried by porters though!) two years ago. The last push to Namche however ... just took forever. Our guide casually mentioned that his father will be building some water taps along the trail and he hasn't seen him in TEN years. I, of course, documented this reunion and cried. Ten years - can you believe that?

Day 3: Rest/Acclimatization day in Namche. Day Hike to the Everest View Hotel. Visit the local Sherpa Museum. I lost a chunk of my rear molar - niiiice - and put it in the Motrin bottle. I also obsessed a bit over the purchase of my yak bell.

Day 4: Hike Namche to Phortse - five (8) hours. We hardly saw a soul and the views were GORGEOUS. Kim dropped her sunglasses in a, er, natural bathroom hole. Dambar the guide RETRIEVED them. We discussed the way his tip was going WAY up. We did start the day with a cappuccino - ahhhhh. It truly was the only one of the trek.

Day 5: Trek Phortse to Tengboche via Pangboche - five (8) hours. Another gorgeous day with only a handful of trekkers in sight. We trekked through the rhododendrons - incredibly beautiful! The Tengboche Monastery made me nauseous - Eau de dirty feet mixed with incense. Marcela decided that Fleetwood Mac was more motivating while trekking than Al Gore. Kim and I discussed the finer points of British/American English obscenities. (Kim is from the UK).

Day 6: Trek Tengboche to Monjo via Namche - five (7) hours. Ooookie dokie ... we were starting back down! We were also back on a more heavily travelled route. On the trail were travellers as varied as a Brazilian film crew with Pepsodent smiles and a group of disabled trekkers from Korea. I told Marcela to just smack me if I whine after seeing this gutsy group. There were also many people we met who are doing this trek as part of their "bucket list".

Day 7: Trek Monjo to Lukla. I can't remember how long we trekked anymore but we arrived and were pretty happy campers. We went to "Starbucks Lukla" - I am adding that picture to my growing collection of intellectual property theft examples in Nepal.

Day 8: Heart stopping take off from Lukla - off a cliff - arriving in Kathmandu thirty to forty minutes later. Contents of stomach remained ... in stomach. One faboo hubby and three adorable children at the airport to greet me on Mothers Day. Just awesome.

So here are a few of the pictures ...

The Trekking Trio: Marcela, Kim and I.

The TT on day one. Clean hair we wouldn't see again for awhile.

Dambar - our "singing guide". We loved it - he broke into song and made puns at every opportunity. "Don't worry, Chicken Curry!"

The rhododendron forests - just lovely!

Terrible picture ... but it is of a Tibetan Musk Deer.

Boy Porters. This made me crazy although I know a wage is a wage. These guys were BABIES and were hauling up cases of beer for tourists. Grrrrrr.

She was just too cute not to snap.

Um. I am tragically unhip - very low cool quotient - highly in touch with my inner geek.

Another shot of Everest and Lhotse. BREATHTAKING.

Monastery in Namche.

The Yak bells. I am now a proud owner and this is what I ring when it is dinner time. I love this thing. It might be my favorite purchase in my three years in Nepal! I was mildly mocked for this but that's okay.

Hiking in the clouds ... just a little bit of altitude!

I have no idea what these are but they were so unusual. Succulent violets? There were also loads of some type of dwarf Iris.

Just look at this Yakette! Very fashionable with the earrings.

Shortly after we arrived here nearly three years ago there was a tragic fatal helicopter crash in Taplejung. The event rocked the community. The conservation community of Nepal lost the best and brightest of a generation. Even though we had been here a short time I knew two of the people personally who died that day. All of their pictures were posted here as a memorial.

People tie prayer flags to the suspension bridges on their way up.

Prayer wheels - walk around to the left going clockwise.

Tibetan prayers (Om Mani Padme Om - sp?) are carved into rocks and painted. Again, walk left and clockwise.

Wheat fields at the lower altitudes.

Boxes containing Tibetan Buddhist scriptures. They are stacked on tables in front of the chanting monks.

This guy had no teeth. Every time he saw the camera raised to my eye he posed this pose. I took the camera down and he'd smile the toothless grin that I really wanted to capture. I tried multiple times to no avail. He won!

Our favorite toilet! I put this here to see if you'd make it this far. Mom - feel free to skip this paragraph, I know how you feel about potty humor. Most "charpis" were two boards over a hole or occasionally a porcelain squatty potty with some water running in it. The Sherpa commode is the usual hole but with all this compost material which makes it a much less stinky affair. Therefore when we got to the lodge in Phortse and they had gone to such great lengths (building this wooden box and putting a western seat on it) I felt compelled to rejoice ... and to sit a spell (smile ... oversharing perhaps?). You know, it's the little things in life, isn't it?

The runway at Lukla. I am not kidding.

This was a once in a lifetime experience for me. I still can't believe I got to go! Even though we chatted and laughed all the time there was still plenty of time to just reflect and think as we hiked. I wonder if I might return when my kids are older ... but by then I'll be older too and Lord knows I'm pretty old now! I am just so grateful that I had the health and the opportunity to make the trip. The majesty of these mountains is humbling. I loved the quiet, the varied terrain, the flora and fauna, the chance to MOVE. Amazing!
And so there you have it ... for the most part anyway.
Namaste and Tashi Teleg!