Thirdeyemom

Sunday Post: Village

Jacksprinter’s Sunday Post this week is Village.  There are many villages in life.  The village of friendship, the village of community and actual villages in far off, remote places of the world.  When I think of the word village, though, my heart will always go back to the special villages I traveled through during my days hiking the Annapurna Trek in Nepal. That was a trip of a lifetime for me that changed everything. One I will never forget and will stay with me forever.

The daily mule trains passing by our teahouse, dropping off supplies and loading up for the next village. The sound of the mule train bells stayed with me as much as the sight of the lovely, majestic Himalayas.

Note: To read more about my journey to Nepal, click here and you can scroll through my posts.  These are the first posts I’ve ever written on my blog and this trip was what inspired me to start blogging in the first place. 

Sunday Post: Village

Nepal was utterly amazing. The trek was arduous, humbling and long.  We hiked over 100 miles doing on average 4-8 hours of strenuous hiking a day at altitudes up to almost 18,000 feet.  But what amazed me most was the magical culture and people that I found in the remote villages of mountainous Nepal.  It is one of the world’s poorest countries in which over 80% of the population is rural and the majority of people survive on less than $2 a day, not even a cup of coffee in the US.  Yet, the rich culture and traditions of the people rose above the impoverished conditions that most villagers live in.

Leaving Kathmandu and heading to the mountains.
The beautiful rice terraces and lush green Kathmandu Valley.
Our first sight of the off in the distance Annapurnas took my breath away.
Along the Annapurna trail, you walk through many villages and are greeted by the rural Nepalese, goat herders, chicken sellers, mule trains, and yaks.
Food and lodging were at the village teahouses, rustic yet very charming places with excellent hospitality and delicious freshly cooked food.
The lives of the villagers is a hard one, especially for the Nepalese Women who have to do backbreaking farm work, cook the meals and watch the children. Yet the villagers all seemed quite happy with their lives, despite its hardships.
Soccer match at 12,000 feet.
A village divides up yak meat for each family.
There are no paved roads in the villages, only dirt roads.
The Buddhist influence greets you at each village as you pass by Buddhist prayer flags, temples, prayer wheels and the smell of burning juniper.
The Buddhist influence.
Being blessed by a 94-year-old monk who lives in a cave monastery at 13,000 feet near Manang.

After completing the trek, I realized why it is called one of the best treks in the world because no other trail has such magnificent scenery and fascinating culture.  No other trek I’ve done has ever gone directly through villages and has allowed me to walk side by side villages doing their daily business.  We passed goat herders, mule trains, men carrying 20 chickens on their backs in a wire cage doing his sales rounds, happy children dressed in their worn school uniforms, Buddhist temples, shrines and prayer wheels and prayer flags.   It felt like being on another planet in some faraway, magical world. And that is what brings me back to why Nepal changed my life.

It is possible to make a difference:  Little things can have big results

As our jet plane took off for home and climbed five thousand, ten thousand and then eighteen thousand feet, I realized in awe that only a few days ago I had been at almost the same altitude as the plane.  It was a wild thought; almost a little frightening.

Our porter Chhring, me, our guide Hari and my dad in Manang, where the road will end. We shared many wonderful days together talking, laughing and sharing our cultures.

As I looked down, I was finally was able to conceptualize how high 18,000 feet truly is. The buildings became smaller and smaller, the cars like ants lining the roads. The vastness of the green, voluptuous rice fields stacked one on top of the other, bursting in color and life. Then, for the last time, I saw the godlike, mighty Himalayas, strikingly beautiful, like a mirage of flying towers soaring upwards into the heavens of the sky. I found it hard to believe that I was really here and had really been there.  It was all like a dream.

Nepal was one of those eye-opening moments in my life in which I realized not only how blessed we are to live in a free, prosperous country (where we have the pleasure of the “western toilet, clean streets without piles of garbage, education, opportunity and space), but how important it is for us as privileged people to give back.   Visiting Nepal struck a chord in my heart and made me realize how impoverished these wonderfully, peaceful and loving villagers are.  Over 80% of Nepalese live in rural areas that have little or no access to education.  I believe strongly that education is the key to a better future and a better life.  From that trip on, I was determined to change my life and figure out a way to keep giving back.

Young Nepali child I saw while passing through a village. Her smile brightened my day.
Upon my return, I was inspired to raise over $ 6,000 for Hands in Nepal, a small grassroots NGO that focus on building schools and helping out rural villages.  Initially I had hoped to raise enough money to build a school in a village, however, the funds ending up going towards the construction of a reading center in a remote village.  The first one they ever had. It was such a pleasure to know that generations of children will now have access to books and a sense of a community center focused on education.
After my work with Hands in Nepal, I became inspired to work on building rural communities and helping the world’s poor (most who live in remote villages) through my advocacy work with the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life program (which provides life-saving vaccines to the world’s poorest children) and most recently with RESULTS, another grassroots advocacy work that fights to end global poverty through education, health care, fighting deadly diseases and community building.  This work has a much larger impact than my little reading center in Nepal and I am looking forward to attending the RESULTS International Conference in Washington DC at the end of July.
What my volunteer and advocacy work has taught me is that we are all one global village.  Yes the lives of the villagers are drastically different than my life here in the United States.  But we all share this planet and it is everyone’s duty to help everyone else out. Otherwise these villages will disappear and what a tragedy that would be.

To read full post on “How Nepal Changed Me” click here.

To see other entries for the Sunday Post: Village click here.

15 comments

  1. What a wonderful post! The photos are a beautiful look into a life I can only read about. How great that you could actually be there, and now give back.

    • Thanks! I have quite a few posts on my trip there but these were my very first posts! It was truly a spectacular trip. I really would love to go back there again and actually still keep in contact with my trekking guide. I also did it with my dad which was even more special. P.S. Love your gravator of the wine glass! I’m having mine right now outside….pinot noir! 🙂

    • Thanks! Yes, this trip was truly a life changing one. I’ve traveled all my life but for some reason Nepal really struck me and still remains in my mind today. It is a beautiful, magical place!

      • Things may be ramping up travel-wise shortly, looks like I’ll be doing some travel soon – just figuring out logistics now, but I’m pretty excited. Don’t you just love adventures? Your summer hiking in the French Alps sounds fabulous 🙂

  2. This is really a very humbling post Nicole. I so admire you for getting involved and making a difference- something many of us might think of, but not too many (self included) do.

    • Why thank you! I just realized how lucky I’ve been to have been able to travel. Then once I traveled especially to third world countries, I realized how incredibly fortunate we are. We never think twice about safe drinking water, a normal toilet or any other comfort we have. I realized there was no way I could not help. No way I couldn’t give back. It actually is relatively easy as so many NGOs need help. So now I’m on a new path! 🙂 Thanks for your kind words! 🙂 Nicole

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