We spent 10 days in Bhalamchour, a Gurung village 6-12 hours (traffic dependent) northwest of Kathmandu Valley. It was beautiful beyond belief. On the first morning I awoke early after a restless sleep and was greeted by the most stunning mountains I’ve laid eyes on. My heart literally skipped a beat. They tower through the clouds, enveloping you in their sheer enormity. No matter how much I looked at them, those Himalaya never lost their affect on me. The rest of the setting, too, was breathtaking. The morning mist, rice patties colored a vivid green, and the 200(maybe) foot waterfall all make it easy for me to definitively say that Bhalamchour is the most scenic place I’ve ever visited.
But the people of this 20-some house village are what I will remember best about our time there. Though it was difficult to connect through words, as my host mother knew no English, certain things, like laughing together about how hot (spice and temperature-wise) I found the food, or showing her pictures I’d taken, brought us closer. So close that, by the time I had to leave, I found myself with a lump in the throat and the realization that for these 10 days, she really had been my mother in a way. Her two sons, one 16 and one twenty, I connected with much faster, and made my favorite memories with. Playing futbol on a dirt field cut out of a steep mountain side, cutting grass while the sun rose with Paun, my eldest brother, and playing cards with a bunch of my brothers’ friends til late are a fraction of the activities I was able to enjoy because of my brothers.
Balamchour also taught me a lot. As we spent Dasai, one of the largest Hindu festivals of the year, with our families, we lucky enough to see much of the culture and participate in many of the traditions. The giving of Thika (which you can assume I’m spelling wrong) was a tradition where rice, dipped in a milk, is rubbed on the head as a blessing. I walked to every household in the village to receive Thika, and felt nothing but love and kindness from all the heads of home. Watching the sacrifice of a goats and buffalo, too, left a lasting impact. I am still figuring out exactly how I feel about that, to be honest.
I will find a way to send photos from an internet cafe soon, but today is not that day. Nepal is super-awesome and I’m loving the trip so far.