The next day I left for my research about education in a far of region of western Nepal, two days by bus, and in no way a tourist destination. The first bus ride was a bus ride and an abs workout rolled into one. I had my bag tied around my foot so that it wouldn’t slip away, which was a very real reality with the way the bus jostled like it did. I had sore abs afterwards from using my core strength to hold myself up in my seat every time we came to rough halts that lurched me forward.
There was a young girl sitting next to me on the bus. When I first got on I didn’t feel like talking, since it was 4:30AM. But later in the afternoon I came around, and began a conversation. She smiled like no one I had ever seen, a beautiful young and joyful smile. Every time I spoke to her she giggled. “Mero namm Antika ho!” she exclaimed proudly. I repeated her name a few times “antika, antika, antika” and she burst into giggles. This women was incredible, full of fortitude, happiness, and greatness. I asked her why she was going there. “Ma baboo ra naani chha”. She was going to visit her little baby girl and boy. He smile explained just how excited she was. Her face looked young, and for good reason. She was only 24, married, and working in KTM but her family and babies still living out in the village. With the ability only a loving aamma can have, she feed me fruits. I resisted at first but she insisted and handed me two small bananas and two oranges. I hadn’t eaten since breakfast so I finished the bananas first and she handed me another within seconds. Kanus kanus kanus she repeated, a cheerful smile on her face. Just as any typical nepali she felt the need to make sure I ate and would obviously share anything she had with me. When I put the banana in my bag for later, she pulled out another orange, peeled it, and insisted on me sharing half of it with her, smiling and laughing all the while. Her face alone, and cheerful outlook had me fall in love with Nepal all over again. Sometimes in the city you get blinded from it, but nepali people are without a doubt the kindest people on earth.
On the second day, I was the only female on the buses ( I was really in the middle of no where) so they put me in the front cabin with the driver. The driver’s cabin looks as if it was decorated by a cross between a bob marley lover and a pre-teen who went shopping at dry ice. When we stopped at lunch time to change buses, the bus driver took charge of me. He walked me to his friends shop, and then told me he was buying lunch because I was “his guest”. We ate daal bhaat and chatted and all he wanted to know was how I was finding “haamro nepal”. (our Nepal). Its amazing I assured him and he smiled widely.
On the bus ride I was clearly the first foreigner most people had seen. It’s almost like being famous. It became so funny for the last three or so hours that I just started waving out the window at passers by who saw that I was a white person. It was completely absurd and new to them. They smiled, waved back, and made such a commotion that it was hilarious. People were stunned to see me riding around a local bus.
The man who was meeting me, Bhuendra, pulled up on his motorbike and I had no choice but to break the rules and ride with him. It was 3-5 hours by walking and it was already 5:30 by the time I got to him so I agreed to ride the motorbike. I told him before leaving that we needed to be slow and careful since I was nervous and this was technically not allowed. He said okay okay and started off riding. About 5 minutes later he turns off the paved road onto a bumpy dirt road, looks at me and says “can you take some risks? Because this road it pretty rough”
“ummm. Okay” I responded because im pretty sure there was no other option for an answer to that question. And so one of the most terrifying hours of my life began. Just to preface, Bhuendra was actually a great bike driver, but the road really was terrible, the weight distribution with me and my pack was tough, and it was completely dark. We road for awhile, with me getting off ever so often so he could ride the rough parts alone and I would walk along side of him. It was a slow but steady system. While on the bike I was so nervous about where we were going that I didn’t look up at all. I figured there was not much to see since we were on a road in the middle of nowhere. However at one point about 30 minutes into the ride I took a second to look up and caught a view of the most amazing stars I have ever seen. I was blown away completely! What beauties they were. There was absolutely no air pollution in that area. We continued through the jungle.
Do you feel safe. He asked me. I told him I did as long as we stayed away from the edge. This was referring to the fact that the road was along a massive cliff face which obviously I would prefer not to fall off of. But we made it okay. And a mere 40 hours later and I have arrived at my new rural village home.