Saturday, November 7, 2009

Bigu

About 1 week ago 3 other volunteers and I went to a small village to teach. The village's name is Bigu and is located in the Dolakha district of Nepal. The trip to get there includes a 10hr bus ride if nothing goes wrong and a day and a half walk up through a valley. After the valley the trail leads up and down a few hills before making a steep decent up to Bigu.

On our trip however it took 12hrs on the bus. Part of the bus ride is just goin up and down sides of mountains. This happens on non paved roads, which are bumpy as hell. So on the last leg of the bus ride the bus was coming around a corner and suddenly without warning slams into the side of the mountain on the left side. Everyone hurried out to see what had happened. I guess part of the axle had broken and the driver could not turn. So instead of turning right and going off the cliff to our death he slammed into the side of the mountain. THANK GOD..... We waited there about 2hrs, while someone went back to get a new part from another town. By the time we started up again it was dark and everyone was a little nervous getting back into the bus. We finally got to Singati were we spent the night.

The next day we began our hike to Bigu. The hike like I said starts down low in the valley and then rises up. We followed a river up most the whole day until we reached our stopping point for the day. We stayed with a family that the guide knew i guess. It was really cool to see a traditional Nepalese house and traditional cooking. However before i could enjoy anything I realized that i lost my camera somewhere. We looked everywhere for it, but finally gave up. Then suddenly after all hope was lost our guide came in and said someone found it. Turns out a kid found it then took it over the bridge to the other part of the village.

The finally day of hiking up to Bigu was by far the hardest for me. The trail lead up away from the river and up into the mountains. I haven't really trained and was not in shape for this at all. My knees kept cramping up and I was by far the slowest person out of the group. 4 hrs later we reached Bigu, which is perched on the side of the mountain 2500 meters high (8,000 ft).

Bigu is a spread out Sherpa village and is made of about 1,000 to 2,000 people. All of the people are Buddhists and speak Sherpa. Most of the younger residents speak Nepalese, but the older ones speak just Sherpa. The lodge we stayed at was very nice. The name of it was the Bigu Community Lodge. We all had beds to ourselves and the rooms were very clean. The lodge was built by an Austrian NGO from back in the day. The couple that runs it are very sweet and kind. They take good care of you and make you feel at home. The only flaw the lodge had was that it had bed bugs. I was the only one who got them too. If you have ever had them you know that its not fun at all.

The next couple of days we met with the monk that was volunteering teaching for the little nuns. We were very excited that we were going to be teaching them at the Nunnery. The Nunnery is home to about 60 nuns old and young. The kindest people you will ever meet. The volunteer teacher we talked to was 1 of the 2 only men there. The other was a man named Dawa who is a Tibetan doctor. He is also the village doctor. He is 26 years old and speaks only Tibetian and some broken English. He spent the most time with us and took care of us. He would always feed, explain stuff, or just bring us tea all the time. He had a big heart and wants to help that Nunnery out as much as he can.

A few days being in Bigu we were told that the main Lama of the Nunnery was coming to visit. This was a pretty big deal since he only comes every few years or so. When we meet him he had a smile on his face and just a positive presence to make you feel good inside. His English was good and he talked to us all the time. We got to have lunch/tea with him a bunch and talked about Nepal, life, the future of the Nunnery, and about each other. He even gave me a new name which is Samba Zangpo. This means "Good Mind". He said we were brothers because our ancestors are from Mongolia.

When we weren't drinking tea with the Lama or Dawa we were teaching. Me and another volunteer Dough taught the older girls while the other two taught the younger ones. These girls were great and wanted to learn a lot. We taught them English and then math. Doug and I went over the alphabet and did basic math problems. Some of the girls that had already been to school caught on quicker than the rest.

One of my favorite days in Bigu was the day Dawa took us up the side of the mountain that rose above Bigu. We woke up at 5am and started up the trail. The trail made a zig zag back and forth, but finally we made it right as the sun was rising. Dawa brought a pan and some food, which contained cookies, eggs, noodles, and some vegetables. We started a fire and watched the sun rise over the mountains as we looked down at Bigu. After breakfast we went up a little higher and there could see Tibet juts over in the distant. It was an amazing view and a great day.

Our last day in Bigu ended with us having dinner with Dawa and some of the older Nuns and the volunteer teacher/Monk. The food was great as it had been all week. We had a big day tomorrow. We were invited by the head Lama to ride back with him to Kathmandu. This was going to be an awesome day I thought to myself.....I think I jinxed myself.

Last Day: We wake up early in the morning. Some of the little nuns follow us to where the Lama is 1 and half hrs away. Our porter that is carrying some of our stuff wants to go one way while the nuns are going a different way. I and other Sam follow the porter. Doug and Rima go with the nuns. Sam and I go up this road forever and still no Lama. A jeep passes us going down and we think it's going to come back for us, but doesn't. Finally Sam and I stop. The porter won't go any further. We end up firing the porter and keep going thinking the Lama, Rima, and Doug are waiting for us further up. We keep walking and walking. Still nothing as we are reaching the highest part of the pass. We finally go into survival mode. Our plan is to keep walking until we get to the next town. Then we will try and find a bus to Kathmandu. It's about mid day by the time we get to the highest point of the pass. We are about 11,000-12,000 ft high. As we look down into the valley we see we have a long way to go. After cursing a bunch we start heading down. Maybe a hr and a half into walking to stop to take a break. Suddenly Sam says to me "I think I hear something". He quickly changes his mind and says "never mind", but the sound gets louder and I say "NO LOOK". The jeep rolls around the corner with the Lama in it. We are SAVED.

Doug and Rima are in the back of the jeep dirty as hell. The back of the jeep was like a cage and there was dust everywhere. We rode down the mountain like this for 2-3 hrs. Finally the bumpiness stops and we reach a paved road. We are now about 2hrs from Kathmandu. We Made It!

Bigu is full of warm people. The nuns at the monastery and the couple at the lodge were some of the kindest people I've ever met. Hopefully I can go back there one day and help out. Hopefully you can go there and see for yourself.

Namaste