November 18th – How did we make sooooo much laundry??? Dirty… dirty girls….

Today was our last full day in Nepal and it fittingly began by washing clothes and scrubs in the bathtub. It was following washing clothes that we realized how dirty we have been. The brown/black bathtub water and sand/gravel/dust that coated the bottom of the tub reminded us of how much we still love to play in the dirt. After double washing and rinsing the clothes and scrubs (and the water STILL not being clear), they were hung outside on the clothesline on the balcony. Thankfully there was no one below to receive the shower certain people got last week.

After breakfast of rice and curry, we decided to do some shopping on the street (by ourselves!) and compile a few items for the girls of our host family in Nuwakot (Binita, the 14 year old daughter of Sudarshan’s oldest brother, Pabrita, Sudarshan’s youngest sister-in-law, and Sudarshan’s oldest brother’s wife). We were proud of ourselves that we were able to shop and walk in the streets without being taken advantage of (Gin spent a LOT of time bartering), or being run over by the very eccentric (i.e. crazy) drivers.

Back at the house the package was wrapped for the girls of our host family using left over fabric shopping bags (they give them for every major purchase!). It consisted of 3 English books (they were very interested in practicing English, especially Binita who often walked around with a Nepali/English dictionary), 3 specialty pens, 4 scarves, and 2 tennis balls. We did a little packing and planning for the next day, then left the house to meet up with Sangita. She had high hopes that we would be fluent enough to be able to catch a bus to where she worked on our own… we were not.

Instead, we compromised, and walked to the corner where the bank is – a major crossroads where all kinds of routes drop off/pick up. Given that tomorrow we will begin looooong journeys stuck with lots of people in cramped spaces, we elected to take a taxi for about 45 minutes to get to a tourist favourite of Kathmandu, the Monkey Temple. Our taxi driver was a super star and could easily have been a stunt driver in many action films, including any of the Fast and Furious movies.

The Monkey Temple gets its name due to all the monkeys running freely around the temple. It was quite the sight to see, especially if you are not used to monkeys as the standard wildlife. In addition to monkeys, stray dogs and a few 8 week old puppies were wandering around the temple. It was very interesting to see dogs walk through a group of monkeys, like the monkeys were not even there. We think it would be beneficial if the monkeys picked external parasites (such as fleas, ticks, and sarcoptic mange mites) off of the roaming dogs in addition to picking parasites off themselves (no more need for Ivermectin!). The temple was very interesting, and the best part was that we climbed hundreds of steep stairs to get to the top to be able to admire a view of Kathmandu. The view from high up was the first time we were able to get a decent idea of the city layout (and size! It is massive!). However, we continued to be confused by the city layout and were no closer to understanding the area of the city (or where we live), nor the logic used to design it, after viewing it from above.

We were able to purchase several paintings of Nepal-inspired subjects and landscape from a local dealer (and Gin put her skills to use – but we aren’t sure if that just meant that we paid what a Nepali would pay, or if we got a deal), then rounded the traffic circle yet again (in a taxi) to return to the house. While waiting in a traffic jam we saw our first horses of the entire trip. Two police officers or military personnel were riding Bay (brown with black points) horses, one man per horse, down the middle of the crowded street against traffic. This seemed like a bad idea to Gin and Tonic, however not out of the ordinary for the Nepali people (according to Sangita – who barely looked up from texting on her phone).

After dropping off all of our merchandise at the house, all of us then walked down to Sangita’s favourite Thai restaurant to meet up with Sudarshan and Rabindra for a final supper in Nepal. While we were waiting for the boys to show up, and downloading pictures and videos from Sangita’s phone, a fly flew by then seemed to drop dead in midair and land in Gin’s water. It was quite funny but unfortunate that we needed to discard most of the water in the glass (which was expensive bottled water). On a positive note the incident provided more than half an hour of conversation, and interesting acting out and hand signals as Gin and Tonic, the witnesses of the incident, tried to explain it to Sangita, the waiter, the host of the restaurant, a second waiter, and Sudarshan and Rabindra (when they arrived). The joys and challenges of language and culture differences continue!

We gave the package for the girls of our host family to Sudarshan (i.e. to Rabindra to remind Sudarshan) so he could take it to his extended family the next time he went home or find someone traveling in the vicinity to pass it on to. After supper Gin and Tonic tried to arrange a taxi cab (with Sudarshan and Rabindra’s help) to the airport the next morning. The problem was that most cabs were very small (think hobbit or clown car), and could not fit the one remaining bin (we managed to downsize!) and our large packs. Apparently the larger cabs, like the one we took from the airport when we first arrived, can only be caught at the airport. Also, there is no way of contacting a cab driver (i.e. by phone book, 411, or cab company) unless you know the cab driver and his phone number.  Rabindra suggested (and Sudarshan finally agreed) to go to the airport and get the number of a cab driver with a larger cab, and then text it to us. Yay!!! Hopefully this works!

Packing continued after we returned to the house, and Gin madly tried to finalize details for putting her house on the market back in Canada, then Gin and Tonic both coughed themselves to sleep. We are not sure if we have the combination of a “cold”, and inflammation/irritation of the trachea and lungs from the smog and dust ,or just the latter but we have been congested and coughing since we returned to Kathmandu after our stint in Nuwakot (Tonic even began wearing a mask in true Asian fashion!) Anyway, this seems quite normal since most of the locals seem to have a chronic cough.

Take care!!

Love Gin and Tonic

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