I’ve settled in with my host family now and have found a good routine with placement at the hospital. We have to be in placement from 8am-1pm then can do as we please. Usually, some of us will eat lunch then go back to the hospital for a bit. Otherwise, we’ll either do a short trip or go to the grocery store. For my first week, I was in PICU (pediatric intensive care unit) and saw the measles, dengue fever, and lots of pneumonia. It was tough watching kids as young as 3 months hooked up to iv’s and suffering. This past week, I was in the OT (operation theatre) which proved to be very interesting. I was able to see a hysterectomy, tens removal, cholecystectomy, appendectomy, mastectomy on a man, ECT being used on psych ward patients, abscess and cyst removals, skin grafts, as well as many caesarian sections. For one of our afternoon trips, we visited Devghat. “Devghat marks the sacred confluence of the Kali Gandaki and Trisuli rivers, two important tributaries of the River Ganges. Hindus regard the point where the rivers meet as especially sacred and many elderly high-caste Nepalese come here to live out their final years and eventually die on the banks of the holy river.” We were able to watch a ceremony from far away where a group released a loved ones ashes into the river while burning fire on the side. After that, we walked across the bridge with some monkeys and explored the town and temple a bit before visiting the place where the rivers merge as well as a temple cave nearby. Another afternoon we took a momo making class where we attempted to make the dumpling-like staple Nepalese food but were clearly overestimating our abilities.
A different afternoon, we all took part in a yoga class that turned out very different from yoga back home. It went from jumping jacks to running in place to howling and roaring on the ground.
My first weekend, a group of three of us went to Pokhara for two nights. We spent the first day on the bus getting there and once there, we shopped and explored a bit. Our second day was rainy which was a bit of a bummer. We made the most of it and took a small boat across the lake and then hiked up to the World Peace Pagoda for an amazing yet cloudy view of Pokhara. On the way down, we were stopped by a group group of tourists from India who’d asked me to take a picture because I’m “white and tall”. Assuming that they meant to ask if I could take a picture of all of them, of course I said yes. Seconds after my response, I was surrounded by them and had them switching in and out to take photos with me. Mothers were even handing me their children and running off to get photos. After that moment of paparazzi, we continued on our way. The weather stopped us from visiting a waterfall on the way down but we hunkered down in a little cafe and had some hot chocolate and juice instead.
This past week, I had placement in OT and we spent one afternoon in a Nepalese dance lesson, one at a local school where we taught the kids how to properly brush teeth and wash hands, and two evenings at our neighbors wedding! The dance lesson proved a challenge for me and our instructor’s tunnel vision and sole assistance to me made it clear that I was the weak link. Eventually, it became a joke and everybody would crack up when she would only ask me if it was okay to move on and only fix my movements. The local school was a nice afternoon with lots of toothbrushes, drool, and singing. For the first night of the wedding, my host dad forced Rachel and I to go in the middle and dance with the ladies which was a riot to say the least.
This past weekend, five of us went to Lumbini for a night, where Lord Buddha was born. After a 6 hour bumpy bus ride to get there, we visited a monastery and a small temple before going to the actual ruins area where he was birthed. Most of the area outside was prayer flags and ruins while inside consisted of bricks and a glass box around the stone where he was born. After that, we got in a tuk tuk that took us around to temples built by different countries. China, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, International Nunnery, Nepal, and Switzerland. A few were closed including Vietnam, France, Singapore, and Germany so we only looked from the outside. Switzerland was also closed upon arrival but our driver pulled a few strings because two of the girls I was traveling with are from there, so we ended up being the only ones in the temple. Today, we bussed back and Rachel and I came back to our house. After talking, dancing, and painting nails with one of our host sisters, she invited us downstairs for some buffalo curd and rice flakes.