December 8, 2011
When our intrepid travelers last left you, we had just arrived in Pokhara via Buddha Air and I had ridden on the back of a scooter.
The rest of this day has been an intriguing one.
We spent a meaningful part in Lakeview, a suburb of Pokhara. It was a bit like a ski town full of young Westerners, interesting shops, internet cafes and the occasional pizza joint. We did some advance shopping for our trek, went to a coffee shop to post my last blog and then I found our way to the Seeing Hands Massage Studio.
Every now and then, you run into a place that works on every level- a place that is just good, in the simplest meaning of the word.
The Seeing Hands Center is such a place. It is the vision of an English woman to reach out to blind individuals in Nepal. She trains them in massage at a very high level then offers fantastic services to travelers at a price that is impossible to beat ($15 an hour). In the end people who would have no safety net or support now have a trade that is both legitimate and also brings joy. They earn a good living in a country that pays porters who carry luggage up mountains trails between $10 - $14 a day.
The masseuses also learn English exceptionally well. I had my best English conversation in Nepal so far with the man who was torturing, er helping me.
It was one of those massages that one does not exactly enjoy at the time. By “not really enjoy”, I mean “wishing a lightening bolt would strike the masseuse dead. Yet I knew I was carrying over 3 weeks of backpacking, the Great Wall, long hikes and hard beds in my back and I needed a serious tune up. He really went to work.
I will say, with some pride, that my torturer commented that I had a “high pain tolerance”. Kinda make me think he was trying to break me and I stood firm.
He could tell that my ankle had been injured. He asked me how I had hurt it. Certain concepts are difficult to convey to someone from Nepal, especially one who has never seen a photo.
Waterskiing (the source of my injury) is such a concept. It took a long time to explain. “Like snow skiing, except on water.” “Or, I am pulled behind a boat and glide on the water.”
After 5 minutes, he pretended to understand. He had no clue.
Other masseuse quotes:
For Terrill and Virginia “You could be my little sisters. I have 8 already. But you are more tense.”
For Liam “Your legs are very sweaty.”
For Susie “You have very clean feet.” (Susie is proud of this one. - I am confused that she is proud of this one.”
Once home, we were ready to melt. In fact, I fell asleep while blogging at 9:15.
Before I wrap up the blog, I want to say a few things about our host family. We are staying in a Tibetan refugee community. In addition to hosting our family, they have 5 family members and two Australian student nurses staying in the house.
We are in a single story home with no glass windows, heat or AC. The toilet is an outhouse with a squatter. They experience 6 - 14 hours of blackouts every day. We had 3 or 4 separate such events in the first 24 hours.
[Political note: we learned the source of the blackouts. Apparently Nepal has sufficient electricity generation for itself, but they are selling much of it to China and India. I suspect the fact that China is a communist country and the current Nepalese government is Maoist, is a contributing factor in this sale. Put differently, there is a chance that the fine leaders of Nepal are (you may find this shocking), more interested in their own career and pocketbooks than the welfare of their own people.]
Despite being in the middle of a blackout, we had a lovely meal that many of us helped to prepare - dumpings or “mo-mos”. Proper Nepalese sentence; “Mama, I want mo mo-mos.” I am delighted to report our hosts are great cooks. More importantly, the company was loving and warm. We felt like we were part of their family. We connected with everyone, Aussies included. Simply put, it was lovely.
The Aussies made us aware of an extraordinary aspect of this home. For those of you playing at home, you might have guessed the special luxury this house provides: a shower! OK, not a shower with hot water, but a shower nonetheless.
Our sleeping accommodations are rather spartan. Actually, I am lying a little. They are really spartan. The bed is a large piece of plywood with a flattened egg crate foam cushion on top. The Aussies and the eldest son would walk to the room that Susie, Virginia and I shared. Our rooms are separated by a hanging sheet. On a positive note, Susie was thrilled to see the large lizard that also shared our room and ate all the bugs.
Yet we are loving the experience. We are meeting people at their most hospitable. We are spending time with students who want to volunteer with people less fortunate. We are learning about Tibet and Nepal.
Oh, we’re getting killer mo-mos.