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Photo by Catherine Von Holt, Nepal Semester.

Greetings from Sonoma County!

Hello, New Friends!

I’m very excited to make your acquaintance as we all get to know the people, land, spirit and culture of Nepal.  Next Friday I’ll leave my family and my home among the vineyards of Sonoma County in California to launch this adventure from San Francisco.  23 hours later, I’ll have crossed the Pacific, alighted in China, and soared over the Himalayas before dropping down into Kathmandu.  I’m hoping to see Mount Everest from the plane.

For me, this journey is a reunion with myself.  Before I became a parent to my beloved 8-year old daughter, I trekked and traveled all over the world.  As an anthropologist and ethnographer, I lived among indigenous peoples of Cameroon, Hawai’i, Mexico, and the Amazon of both Brazil and Peru, studying their healing practices and sacred plant medicines.  As a new parent, I had envisioned imparting my wanderlust to my daughter and sharing my love of global human cultures with her as soon as she could enjoy extended air travel.

Alas, when my daughter was four, a life-threatening brain tumor changed that plan and required that our family stay close to Western medical facilities, first for surgery, then for months of in-patient rehab, and then years of more rehab, medical testing and MRIs.  Instead of roving the globe studying ritual healing practices in Bafut or the syncretic ayahuasca churches of Salvador, I have been deeply immersed in entirely foreign subculture for the last four years:  a community of pediatric brain cancer patients and their families and the most technologically advanced surgeons, oncologists, scientists and others who have devoted their lives to helping these remarkable children live…and then live full lives.

I am happy to say that my daughter is well.  Her recovery from her surgery has been miraculous, and while we may never hike the Inca Trail together, her very existence is an extraordinary journey.  And being a parent to her is the most excruciatingly beautiful journey I never could have imagined or planned.  This will be the first time that I’ve been away from my daughter for any significant period of time, and I will miss her and my spouse, but I feel absolutely certain that Kathmandu is where I belong for the second half of January, re-connecting with myself and connecting with you and Nepal.  I’m so looking forward to sharing this journey with all of you.  Namaste!