Trip Start Feb 24, 2009
31Trip End Aug 19, 2009
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Where I stayed
Mount Puta Hotel
As this is the first Nepali school I have ever been in it is difficult to guage how much of the uselessness of the teachers is normal, and how much was this bunch. There was infighting, gossiping, politics, lazyness (regularly classes were left with no teacher as there was something good on TV), but above all else complete lack of organisation. With four classes, four teachers and 4 lessons a day you wouldn't think the Principle would have much difficulty devising a timetable, but before every lesson I had to go to his office and ask where he wanted me next, to be greated with a blank look, and then eventually an answer....often telling me to teach the class I had just come from, and then looking surprised when I pointed that out
After 4 consecutive days of letting the whole school just play in the yard for Period 4, I decided to go against my instincts and snitch, having a word with the school committee. They had already told me that they were not that happy with the teachers, but I still wrestled with the decision, I know how hard to come by jobs are in this country, and the last thing I wanted was to be responsible for someone loosing theirs. Luckily they just got a stern telling off and were in the process of devising a timetable (thats right dude, 4 teachers, four classes, four lessons.....you know you can do it) when I was leaving.
Last weekend we actually had a two day weekend as it was national day on Friday, so Birbal, one of the teachers and I took a shrt overnight trek down to Dunai on the valley floor. A pleasant 3 hour trip down, a gnarly 4.5hour trip back up. Dunai is actually the capital of the Dolpa region, and a much busier commercial place than Juphal (Juphal is only really as big as it is because it has the airport). We wandered around the town, went up to the beautiful local Gompa (monastery), which we had to get someone to open, the Lama (head monk) was in the mountains collecting muchrooms! And then on Saturday went for a nice 2 hour hike up the valley towards Tibet
The journey home yesterday (and today) was an experience. They never know how many flights, if any are going to come, weather conditions, plane condiitons etc. So I got up at 5.30am, and waited for hours to hear if there were flights. At 7.30am I was told, no flights all cancelled, so I went back to my room, and listened to some music. An hour later there is a frantic knock at my door "miss miss, flight coming now, you hurry, flight happening" So I had to hastily repack and rush through the town to the airport, where I paid a one handed man in a hut the rs6700 (about sixty quid) for a bording pass. I then had to walk acoss the airstrip to a tin shed where my bag was put on top of an empty cattle trough for security inspection, and then just told to wait.
Watching the flight coming in did not inspire confidence. What I failed to appreciate on my inbound flight was that the runway is not flat. It is flat at the top, and then pitches down sharply, so sharply that you can't see the plane anymore from the "departure lounge". I eventually get on my flight, thinking, it must look worse than it is, and then promptly start crying (just a little bit) as the plane hits the slope and hurtles towards the valley floor
No electricity, no running water, no sanitation, each village just 5-10 mud huts eaking a living out of tiny plots of land on the mountain side and hours or days walk from the next nearest settlement. These are the real poor of Nepal, these are the people who have zero education, zero healthcare and obscenely low life expectancies and high infant mortality rates. Sometimes it feels as though the international aid in this country, both monitary and from people like me, whilst well meaning, almost always gets misplaced because of the sheer inaccessability of those who need it most.