On our flight from Paro, Bhutan to the Kathmandu airport we flew over Mount Everest,
which was lying just below us, thrusting through the clouds in snow laden sunny splendor. What a thrill to see the grand mountain.
In Kathmandu we visited ancient temples and especially enjoyed the restored Kathmandu Valley ancient city of Bhaktapur, with its many stupas, temples, formal buildings and wide squares and courtyards. Then we traveled out to the country and stayed at a lodge securely positioned on the side of a steep mountain where we overlooked the magnificent Annapurna peak. Early in the morning before the clouds descended we could see many of the snow covered mountains in this majestic range.At the end of the trip we stayed in a great lodge by the Chitwan Jungle Park where we rode elephants on a safari across a wide river into the jungle to see one horned rhinoceroses.
The magnificent scenery and animals were fabulous for all the travelers and for a writer. But for a children's writer the chance meetings we had with so many interesting people, especially children, were bonuses for possible story ideas.
Which fascinating person would come alive in a story for American children? Is it the young woman we met who told us her enthralling story of her dream to climb Mount Everest (which is the highest mountain in the world at 29,029 feet)?After much grueling training and much work obtaining sponsors for the climb, she finally reached the pinnacle, and became the first non-Sherpa woman from Nepal to successfully complete the climb.
Is it the funny and clever trio of small boys...
we met on the hillside on their way home from school dressed in their uniforms? Nepal's children are taught English beginning in first grade so these boys in third grade had quite good English (since we could not speak their language, Nepalese). They were full of beans and thrilled to chat with us. When asked if they had had multiplication yet they said "Sure!" "OK, what's 3 x 3 equal?" The middle fellow yells "Six!" "No!" we say. Then someone says "Times, not plus." "OH," he says "Nine!" They were funny and quick. Of course they requested sweets from us , which we had been advised not to give them, but we could give them pens and magic markers.
Or was it the manager of the restaurant tucked on the deep green mountain side who had his picture posted on the wall from Desert Storm when he had been with a Gokha military unit that provided security in far away Kuwait for American marines in a hot, dusty desert? The Gorkhas are the tribe from Nepal that served with the British army with distinction for many years.
Maybe it was the teenage girl in the traditional Gorkha village that we hiked to on one of our treks? Some of the older men had served with the British army and were now retired. Many of the young men work in the Gulf states and send good money home. Everyone dresses in traditional clothes, the women trim, slender and pretty in their long, narrow skirts. They all work hard on the steep slopes of the mountainside farms where terraces of rice, millet and vegetables are stacked down the mountain. Everyone meets you, including little children, with folded hands and the greeting, "Namaste." Just as we were leaving we passed a teenage girl who was dressed in clothes that would be stylish at any American high school. We said, "Hi. Namaste." She disdainfully looked at us with typical teen condescension and declined to answer.
Wonderful scenery, people and stories - it's hard to know which to focus on.
Friday, October 28, 2011