Happy Thanksgiving, fellow Americans!

Today I am thankful for the opportunity to be in this beautiful country, soon to be volunteering. I am grateful to the people who got me here. And I am thankful that sometimes technology doesn’t work (but also thankful when it does!).

Unlike most cities in the US, Kathmandu has WiFi everywhere. Just about every cafe, restaurant, hostel, and hotel boasts of it. Just try walking into an Olive Garden in your hometown and asking for the WiFi password without getting shot down. It’s a great feature of this city! But for some reason this morning (I woke up at 6 am, thank you jet lag!) that luxury wasn’t there to oblige my technological impulse that is checking my phone first thing when I wake up.

Immediately I was frustrated. How was I going to plan my day? Post to Instagram? Stalk people on Facebook? Before the sun fully rose I was already lost and alone and craving my interwebs. I begrudingly took my iPhone and my book to the restaurant cafe, ordered some breakfast, and then proceeded to  check the internet connection every five minutes like a conditioned lab rat waiting for my intervals of drugs. While waiting for my food to arrive, another American walked into the restaurant. He was  awaiting internet as well, although much more patiently than I. His name is Nick, he is a black car driver from NJ, and had just done two weeks of trekking around Mt. Everest. He hadn’t checked his email in 15 days. Who was this unicorn with the will power of Odysseus?!

Food always helps so after some scrambled eggs and coffee I settled into my fate for the day. And my brief chat with Nick inspired me to just chill out about the whole thing. After breakfast I wandered into the city to find a guidebook and do this the old fashioned way. I found a nice shop and asked the woman behind the counter for a Kathmandu Valley guide book. She had one. As I handed her some Rupees, she asked me about why I was in Nepal, how long I was here for, if I had any friends. When I answered her last question with “not yet” she sweetly said that if she didn’t have to work she would have liked to show me around. Whether or not she was just being polite, the gesture warmed my heart. I think I’ll head back to that shop tomorrow.

With book in tow, I headed back the hotel. Still no internet. Fine. I can do this like the pioneers. Opening the book, I found the Garden of Dreams listed as a top attraction in the city. And it wasn’t too far from Thamel. The hotel clerk gave me some directions, wished me good luck (told me to call him if I get lost), and I was on my way back into the busy streets.

The Garden of Dreams is in a new direction from where I was yesterday so I got to learn a new set of streets. I knew I was getting closer to the attraction when more and more tourists mixed in with locals.

The garden was truly something of a dream. So quite and lush. I could just faintly here the street noises beneath the rippling sounds of water. Waterfalls and fountains could be found all over the complex.  Only a few plants were in bloom but the garden was still very green. Tourists and locals sat on benches, read books, napped on mats, held hands and wandered around.  It felt like an idyllic greek garden, and I believe that was the intention of the Austrian patron who built it. I sought out my own quiet place to read, and found a tiled bench and table on a terrace overlooking the main grounds. It was quiet and cool, out of the sun and chaos. I stayed until I finished my book (Tom Robbins, Villa Incognito. I recommend any of his books! Start with Jitterbug Perfume if you can).

Right on cue, my stomach told me it was lunch time. As I’ve said before, when it beckons I follow it with immediate and unwavering devotion. Back to Sat Ghumti for some food!

Soon it was late afternoon and I realized that I had gone most of the day without access to the internet. I had two very pleasant conversations and enjoyed a gorgeous afternoon among flowers and plants. Of course as soon as the internet was back up, I’ve hardly been off it. I admit to my weaknesses.

I will also admit to being a little lonely these past few days. Most other travlers have friends or partners. Adventures are always more fun when you have a pal. But I’m trying to focus on the value of solitude. Left with my own thoughts and no one to be concerned with but myself for the next few days. Soon I’ll be thrust into teaching and living with new people and will probably not have as much alone time. But I am really looking forward to being more immersed in the culture, rather than just a tourist. That was the whole point!

These blog posts so far haven’t been very introspective; mostly just play-by-plays. I realized that today at the garden and wondered why? I think it’s because there is just so much to soak in. People, colors, smells, noises, buildings, cars. My brain is so occupied just trying to navigate the new surroundings that there isn’ t much room for anything else! I’m sure the  thoughts will come as time passes.

Heading to bed early tonight as I’m getting up early in the morning to go on a day trip to Patan and Bhaktapur (just outside of Kathmandu) with my new New Jersian friend. Then dinner with a local mutual friend.

Carry on!

 

Much Love,

Kristin

   

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