From Boots to Fuzzy Slippers: Makalu

“Forget all the reasons why it won’t work and believe the one reason why it will.”

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We started out on our trek completely unsure of what we would encounter. Though I had tried to do some research online, the only information out there is from expensive tour companies who want to provide you with porters, cooks, and guides while charging thousands (for a trek we will do for less than a hundred). We had heard that the first few days passed through small villages, Sherpa villages, where we could occasionally buy food, but that for most of the trek, we were passing through high altitude uninhabited ground. There was suppose to be a small tea house every six or seven hours walking where we could get a meal we were pretty sure that the last few days had absolutely nothing. Plus, food up there was bound to be outrageously expensive as it had to be carried in. To prepare for this we packed a fair amount of food, enough to last us for lunch everyday and at least five breakfasts and dinners (as well as twenty packets of biscuits and a few other snacks). Our packs ended up being stuffed to the brim, and unfortunately, very heavy.

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Khadbari

“Belief? What do I believe in? I believe in sun. In rock. In the dogma of the sun and the doctrine of the rock. I believe in blood, fire, woman, rivers, eagles, storm, drums, flutes, banjos, and broom-tailed horses…”

After arriving in Khadbari, the small town we are starting our trek from, I was finally able to breath a sigh of relief. The air was clean, the water unpolluted, and best of all, people actually smile here! Something I have realized again and again throughout this adventure is that people who live in the mountains (or even foothills) seem to lead much happier lives. Maybe it is because they are closer to nature, or maybe it is because their lives are harder and therefor, they are more grateful, but whatever it is, it is always a relief to get out of the flats and back into a world of laughing and friendly people.

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Puja… Again

“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”

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There is always some kind of festival or holiday going on here in Nepal. For the last month, a few of the children at Hopeful Home have been reading out of a Hindu book, something they apparently do for a month every year. I was raised to believe that during prayer it was important to be silently respectful, but apparently that isn’t the case here or in the rest of Nepal for that matter. After dinner every night a few children would gather around the burning candle and book, while the others in the same small room would be dancing, singing, and doing homework. Even those listening would often talk or get up, making the whole prayer deal very informal and almost a joke.

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Visas: The Traveler Nightmare

“Nostalgia in reverse, the longing for yet another strange land.”

Visas are an absolute nightmare and unfortunately end up dictating travel plans for us voyagers. They are expensive, oppressive, and for some countries, downright frustrating or impossible to obtain. Three months seems to be a pretty typical visa allowance, and many of these can be bought on arrival (for most of South America this is true, as well as Nepal, the USA, Europe, Turkey…). They typically range from thirty to a hundred dollars which adds up quickly when you are traveling through entire continents. There are other countries which only allow a month or two (Uzbekistan and Tajikistan), and many, including the Stan’s, India, Iran, and Burma, China, and Mongolia… which need to be obtained in advance. This is especially frustrating when you are on the go and have to spend two weeks in some big city waiting for the slow process to unfold. There are a few surprises, such as Kyrgyzstan which allows 60 days free entry, and Georgia where you can stay a full year, but these are unfortunately exceptions to the rule.

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October 2070

“One person’s craziness is another person’s reality.”

That’s right, here in Nepal it is 2070. October 27th, 2070 to be exact. Now, as you have probably already guessed, this isn’t due to some time machine, but rather because Nepal uses a different calendar than us in the west. I was a bit confused my first few days at Hopeful Home as I noticed that each child wrote the date, a completely different date than I thought it was, on the top of their papers. I had no idea that Nepal used a different calendar than us so I decided to do a bit of research.

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Riya: The Nine-Year Old Powerhouse

“Her secret of success is that she did it all with passion.”

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She asks for extra math problems, she sings and dances as she cleans, and she is always first in her class. Riya, a very small nine year old girl living at Hopeful Home is nothing short of amazing. She was the first one to approach me when I arrived, and I quickly realized that she has the best English of anyone around, even better than her teachers. She is mature and confident, words rarely associated with someone so young, and she is the perfect example of how an organization such as this can give children the opportunity to thrive.

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Saturday

“Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”

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Saturday is the day off in Nepal. In villages this often means picnics, where families get together to cook, dance, and hang out in a field. Here at Hopeful Home, Saturday is the cleaning, bathing, and washing day, as well as a day for the children to play football and badminton in a nearby field.

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The Truth Behind The Mask

“Cheese… milk’s leap toward immortality.”

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I have often seen Asians wearing face masks such as this one and have always assumed they wore them for protection against disease. I have finally realized that the reason they wear them is to protect their lungs against the pollution and dust that unpaved roads and large cities unfortunately host. It seems like all construction or road workers wear a mask, and many motorcyclists and pedestrians either have a mask or a scarf pulled over their mouth or nose. After spending some time in big polluted cities (such as this one), and cycling on dusty unpaved roads, I completely understand the necessity of a funny looking face mask. Just blowing your nose, and finding your snot completely black, should be more than enough proof that the air here is indeed dirty.

What I Appreciate About The USA

“Live, adventure, bless, travel and don’t be sorry.”

Everytime I leave Oregon I learn to appreciate it more. Where else can you ski, cycle, fish, sail, and run all in the same day? It is a beautiful state with wonderful people, and through my travels I have grown proud to call it home. Here is a list of things I appreciate about Oregon and the USA in general.

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Living A Double Life

“The journey itself is my home.”

It has been nearly two months since I have cycled, and it will be a few more until I start again. I say I am cycling around the world, but that simplistic answer really doesn’t capture my current lifestyle as the cycling only accounts for a a small part. I am also living, and living takes time.

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