Goodbye, Nepal…

Our last week in Kathmandu was spent decompressing from the trek, preparing for our departure, and saying our goodbyes. We met our friends, Robert and Charlotte, for one last dinner together in a very ‘local’ restaurant at the foot of the Krishna Temple in Patan’s Durbar Square. We also met our British friend, Ian, for dinner and met two of his friends (also Americans). One of them comes from just outside Ellijay, GA (the tiny town in north Georgia where my father lives), and the other attends the University of Pennsylvania and lives in my West Philly neighborhood only a few blocks away from my old apartment! During my travels, I’ve been constantly reminded that it is a small world, indeed!

Then there was the ‘Day of Dal Bhat,’ as I’ve come to call it: a day of visiting with two different Nepali families that insisted on cooking full meals for us. Everything was absolutely delicious, of course, but after all of that rice, I thought I’d never be able to eat again!

Our first stop was Sunil’s and Dorche’s house (Drew lived with this family during his first stay in Nepal over 10 years ago, and, of course, Dorche guided our trek the week before)…

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We shared some pictures, and they showed us this beautiful family portrait from years ago, before they moved to Kathmandu – I love it!…

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Then we headed to Budhanilkuntha, a small town 8km north of Kathmandu, which was Drew’s research site for the summer. We took a few minutes to explore the area before heading over to the home of Drew’s research assistant, Manoj…

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One of the most interesting things we saw was just across the street from Manoj’s house: the “Sleeping Vishnu” / Budhanilkuntha Temple. This sculpture depicts the god Vishnu reclining on a bed of coiled snakes and appears to be floating in a pond. Legend has it that the statue was buried by an earthquake for hundreds of years, and later discovered by a framer excavating his field – people say blood emerged from the ground where the farmer struck the statue with his tools (oooh – creepy)…

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Manoj lives with his very friendly and welcoming mother and sister. We spent the afternoon looking at pictures and videos of their eldest sister’s recent wedding – it was a great treat to see all of the Newari wedding rituals, and to witness the intense pride they all seemed to feel about this momentous event in the life of their family. It was a very nice afternoon…

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After ‘making the rounds’ and packing up our apartment, we managed to fit in some last-minute sightseeing: Patan’s Golden Temple and Mahabuddha Temple…

The Golden Temple…

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Mahabuddha Temple…

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The date of our departure came, and with it much sadness. I feel in love with Nepal, Kathmandu, and our little neighborhood of Jhamsikel – two months was simply not enough time to experience it all, and I hated to leave. But I must admit that I also felt a bit relieved (clean running water was in my near future!), and I was excited for the next part of my journey in France – it was a strange mix of emotions, indeed.

On our way to the airport to catch our evening flight, I looked out the window and tried to absorb every detail I could about Kathmandu – the smells, the women in colorful saris, the stray dogs, the open-air markets, the chaotic streets filled with motorcyclists weaving in and out of traffic; all of it bathed in the day’s dying light. I wanted to take in as much as I could so my memory of this city would be vivid and alive. This infinitely complex and fascinating place, so strange to me at first, had ultimately become a place that I will forever hold close to my heart. As I looked out the window, I thought about the small, seemingly insignificant changes that had taken place in this little corner of the world during my time there, and how lucky I felt to have witnessed them…

A wall being torn down…

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Corn growing up… and up and up…

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We arrived to the airport, and caught our flight to Abu Dhabi with no problems (luckily, Drew and I both had layovers in Abu Dhabi and were on the same flight out of Kathmandu). I took a few pictures of this quaint and quirky airport to share with you – it’s not exactly what you’d expect of an international airport, but I have to say that I like it’s ‘homey’ feel…

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Here we are, feeling sad about leaving lovely Nepal…

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Shortly after midnight, we arrived in Abu Dhabi for our 9-hour layover (sheesh) – it had only taken a few hours, but we were certainly a world away from the Kathmandu airport now…

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We found a quiet corner near the window and tried sleeping on the floor. This proved difficult because the air conditioner was turned up WAY too high, once again (just like my trip over to Nepal). It was over 90 degrees outside, and yet, we were freezing – it truly boggles the brain to look out at desert and feel so cold that even your bones are chilled…

 

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After a few hours of fitful ‘sleep’ on the floor, we gave up and sat in the food court for a while. Then we made our way back to the waiting area with large windows and watched the sun come up over the desert. This picture doesn’t come close to capturing the beauty of this, but unfortunately, it’s all that I’ve got…

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And by request, here are a few more shots of the Abu Dhabi airport (AKA ‘Tatooine’)…

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Finally, the time came for Drew and me to say goodbye to each other for three months. I won’t go into details, but let’s just say that one can get some pretty strange looks while walking through the Abu Dhabi airport in tears.

I boarded my flight to Paris and immediately fell asleep, physically and emotionally exhausted. Namaste, beautiful Nepal – I hope to see you again someday very soon (and Drew too of course, but much sooner!)…

After a good long nap, a few in-flight movies, and a surprisingly tasty meal (three cheers for Etihad Airways!), I arrived in Paris. Wait a minute…PARIS! FINALEMENT! I’ve been wanting to come back to Paris my whole adult life! (I visited once in high school on a group tour, but we all know that’s quite different than experiencing a city on your own). I was excited (and terrified about having to use my terrible French), but mostly just EXHAUSTED.

And with that, we’ve come to the end of my adventures in Nepal – I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about them! My next post will be all about the wonderful week I spent in Paris before heading out to my two-month artist residency at the CAMAC Centre d’Art in the tiny village of Marnay-sur-Seine.

Speaking of CAMAC, I finished my residency about 2 weeks ago (I know, I know… most untimely blogger EVER), and am now on a ‘Petite Tour de France’ before returning to the States. I have visited Nice, Antibes, Monte Carlo (HA!), Menton, Villefranche, Eze (all on the French Riviera) and Lyon.  Next two stops: La Rochelle, and Nantes – it has been a wonderful trip so far!  Obviously, I haven’t found much time to blog, and I probably won’t until December, as I’ll be bouncing around all over the States during the rest of November.  I promise to continue the story as soon as I can!  Until then, au revoir et à bientôt!

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