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Trek View on Nepal: Himalayan Studies Gap Year Semester with Where There Be Dragons

My first yak

Just a minute ago, I woke up from a nap on a rock, at the top of a hill, next to a village shaded by the Himalayas, and shrouded in mist. For three seconds my mind whirled. The mist from the mountains swirling inside until a ray of light cut through. Gap year, slowly the two words made sense, and falling asleep for a ten minute nap on a rock on top of hill, next to a village shaded by the Himalayas and shrouded by the mist, started to feel ok. Better than ok actually, it started to feel right. We had been in the village of Balamchaur for 4 days.

Soon, however, fresh mint rises to your nose and you feel your body gently move towards that invisible smell. For us, that means going down the wooden ladder, avoiding the chicken squatting on the third rung, and making my way to the kitchen. As I step onto the mud floor I see a fire and no chimney, a teapot whistling and my Aama’s ( Mother in Nepali ) face looking up at me. Her smile is the warmest thing in this cramped room. I bring together my hands and say “Namaste Aama.” Still smiling she replies with a gentle Namaste. Soon I am holding my mint tea as I stumble through Nepali sentences.

My Aama smiles encouragingly but cannot help herself from laughing when I burn myself taking my first sip or when I mispronounce even a simple Thank you. Time passes and I am joined by my two little Bhais (Little brother) . They sit next to me and respond to my broken Nepali with fits of giggles. As my tea begins to clear my head, I am ready for the day. And here is when it gets interesting, because no day in Balamchaur is the same. The only consistency is Nepali class for an hour and a half, but past that, there are only new experiences to have.

Whether shoveling buffalo poop with bare hands, chasing after loose goats, cutting flower in the rice paddies, helping construct a trekking path, or simply staring back at the mountains, one cannot possibly begin to plan a day of routine. When I finally sit back down after one such day, I am glad to return to a familiar scene. My Aama sitting on the mud floor, holding mint tea, and smiling as I put my hands together and say: “Namaste Aama!”