After a dysfunctional three weeks, I sort of feel like a human again. Here’s what went down:
After discovering bedbugs, I sprayed the bedframe with bugspray and moved into the spare bedroom. Then two nights later I woke up with MORE bites ALL OVER my butt. So I went on a cleaning rampage. I took every non-underwear fabric item to the dry cleaners. Then I boiled every single pair of underwear (my anti-laundry strategy of owning three weeks of underwear backfired big time). Everything else got boiled, wiped in antiseptic, frozen, or sprinkled with flea powder. Then I took all my stuff, left the apartment for good, and went to an Airbnb.
During this cleaning process the laptop accidentally took a bath. The laptop repair guys had to replace the hard drive and keyboard and repair the motherboard. Thankfully I’m back in action with a pirated version of Windows 10 and Microsoft Office 2007.
Those are the bad things that happened in the last three weeks. Here are all the amazing things that made up for it:
- Maybe the universe gave me bedbugs for a reason, because the Airbnb is really great. The owners, Santa and Mithila, are young, fun, and welcoming, and there is an adorable puppy named Sanomaya (small love) who satisfies my need to cuddle with furry animals.
-I went to Pashupati, the largest Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, with my friend Sudeep, and we snuck in the back to avoid the $15 foreigner fee. The temple (or the grounds, because as a non-Hindu I am not allowed inside the temple) was old and sprawling, and the river flowed behind the temple itself, and the dead are cremated on the riverbank and ashes are sprinkled into the river.
When it rained we took shelter with a Nepali groundskeeper and his wife and played with their 10-month old baby while watching a cremation. The groundskeeper offered Sudeep and I each and apple, then asked if I was Hindu. When I said no, he took the apple back because it was an offering meant only for Hindus.
-Sudeep and I also visited a temple to Lord Ram. This time, the priest smiled and invited me inside, where we chatted in Nepali and watched as he drew the curtain around the Ram statue and fed Ram dinner of milk and rice. Then we helped ring the bell when Ram finished dinner and the curtain was pulled back for more people to worship. Just goes to show how different people interpret the same religion differently.
-My friend Rozina invited me to her home for a Dar celebration. Dar is part of Teej, the main Hindu women’s festival. On Teej, women fast for the entire day, dress up in red saris, and dance all day and night to honor their husbands. Dar is the day before Teej, when women eat a lot of food including rice pudding in preparation for the day of fasting. Dar can also be a women-only party in the weeks leading up to Teej. This is the type of Dar I experienced. Rozina dressed me up in a borrowed sari and braided long red and green threads into my hair. As a bhidesi, or foreigner, I was a guest of honor and danced with Rozina’s friends and neighbors for hours and hours to special Teej songs.
-I play an ongoing game of “how many parts of a goat can I eat”. So far, I’ve tried goat meat, goat blood, goat intestine, and goat lung. Goat blood is probably my favorite. It tastes like really tender sausage. I’ve also eaten bone marrow (origin unidentified).
-Through the generosity of my kidney doctor friend, I observed a live kidney transplant. I was in the room wearing scrubs, and there was blood all over the floor, and there were two people lying on operating tables with 8-inch incisions in their stomachs. I, the girl who refuses to watch Grey’s Anatomy because I dislike blood, did NOT faint. I watched for three hours. Talk about conquering your fears.
-Work started, and I have a desk all to myself in a quiet corner of the office where the huge German shepherd guard dog named Black likes to come in and sit next to me for a pet. Didi feeds us lunch and tea twice a day. I mostly understand what people say to me in Nepali.
-Week 2 of work, I journeyed to Gatlang village near Langtang National Park. We took representatives from SOS Malta, a donor organization, to see the village community center rebuilding project they funded after the earthquake in April 2015. I tagged along to see my wetland study site, Pravati Kunda (more on this later!).
-The road to Langtang was SO BAD that we traveled for three days and spent only four hours in the village. On the way home, we drove through a bumpy and slippery landslide area, next to a 200 foot cliff, in thick fog with 10 foot visibility, in the dark, in pouring rain. A truck driver going the other direction literally leaned out his window and told our jeep driver that “your vehicle will not pass”. But of course we kept going. This is actually the most dangerous thing I have ever done. People die doing that. But we survived!
-I met some cool new runner friends and tried to run 20k this morning. I forgot that I haven’t run 20 k (half marathon) in 4 months, and I’m out of shape because running solo in Kathmandu is stressful. So I was really slow, and I only made it about 17-18k and then walked the rest of the way home. My legs hurt like hell and I ate an insane amount of dhal bhaat when I got back. But the runner friends are cool!
Meet Jessie Moravek
I am a 2018 Fulbright Scholar at Lancaster University in the United Kingdom. Studying for an MSc in Biodiversity and Conservation. Click here to learn more about me!