And at 9 o’clock pm on November 29th, it happened: mom and dad touched down at the Kathmandu airport for a rip roarin’ 15 day Moravek family Nepal vacation (minus Josie, who was stuck in Indiana taking finals). We were greeted with cake at the hotel (happy 40th, mom!), and I changed their SIM cards, gave them each NRs. 5,000, and left them to sleep in peace.
Huge shout out to Bigyan, Santa, and Praveen for providing Old Durbar and Kukhuri rum as a welcoming gift. After several days eating momos and dodging stray dogs, we departed on an airplane to Pokhara with awesome Himalayan views out the window. Pokhara was lovely: a boat ride to the temple in the middle of the lake, a bottle of Gorkha beer at the Busy Bee Bar, Devi’s Falls, Gupteshwar Cave (Nepali version of Batman’s bat cave), the World Peace Pagoda, and a Tibetan Refugee camp where mom ALMOST bought a carpet we didn’t need and which the cats would have destroyed. Dad and I hiked to Dhampus for views, and mom and I shopped for postcards and scarves.
Then dad got raw chicken in a momo, which spelled major food poisoning. As we were leaving Pokhara we discovered we couldn't get to Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha, because of major strikes. So after 2 days in the car we ended up in Bandipur. I think Bandipur was great, but I was incredibly carsick, and that doesn’t even begin to describe how dad felt.
The next morning we rode to Chitwan, but unfortunately the road was under construction. Poor dad was not happy bumping along on for four hours on that road, and immediately slept upon arrival at our resort in Chitwan (at this point we were emailing his doctor). Mom and I, however, went on a “jungle walk”. The Terai (the plains in southern Nepal) is flat, truly flat like Illinois, except with a view of the Himalayas in the distance. I almost felt like I was home on the prairie, except we were walking through elephant grass looking for rhinos. And then, we saw one! A one-horned rhinoceros, Rhinoceros unicornis, and her baby. Twenty yards away. I couldn’t stop grinning.
The next day we took a canoe ride and saw 25 species of birds (hornbills and peacocks among them), visited a gharial breeding center (like a crocodile but with a skinny snout), and met the elephants. The elephants’ names were Rupkali and Chandrakali, and they were well treated (I checked, before agreeing to ride them), and I fell absolutely in love with them. Dad ate a bowl of cornflakes and a banana.
We rode the elephants early the next morning. An elephant is an extremely bumpy thing to ride, but they are very good at bushwacking. We found a bull rhino and followed him for a bit. We were so close at one point that I couldn’t fit him in my camera lens. And once we left the rhino, the elephant’s manhout asked if I wanted to drive. So I clambered up to Rupkali’s head, stuck my feet behind her ears, and steered back to the resort.
Dad got some antibiotics and perked up by the time we got back to Kathmandu, and after a day of rest, I sent them on their 24-hour flight home. I loved seeing my parents, especially around the holidays, but what a strange juxtaposition of my past and present life. I realized how much I’ve adapted to, living in Kathmandu: crazy traffic, air pollution, squat toilets, stray dogs, cows in the road, scarce hot showers, a brand new language, and so much more. But little old St. Charles still exists, with all the old neighbors, deer in the backyard, and high school band concerts. There’s a place where everyone looks like me, has my accent, goes to my church, cheers for my sports teams, eats at Portillo’s, and remembers when I was 5 years old. I’m sure it was pretty jarring, for mom and dad, to jump out of the St. Charles bubble and into Nepal for just two weeks, and it was jarring for me to see them here, transplants from my old life in the middle of Kathmandu. It’s good for people to live and travel abroad, at least once in your life—it changes your perspective. Going back to St. Charles will never be the same (but who knows how often I’ll go back).
Anyway, thanks mom and dad! Love you Lots!
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!