Wednesday, January 11, 2012


So, I ended up buying a last minute flight home and arrived in the U.S. on the evening of Jan. 4. I went straight to the emergency room and have basically been in the hospital since. They have been testing me for all sorts of things but still don't know whats wrong with me. Really, they are just giving me tons of antibiotics and trying to kill whatever is there while also waiting for the test results. I almost went to the hospital in Thailand, but after everything that I have been through I am happy to be home. I will finally go home this evening. It'll take a couple weeks before I totally feel better again and after that I will be moving to Long Beach and looking for a job. Its strange, but I'm actually looking forward to having a job. Not the job search, but to working. I've been avoiding it for a long time now and have really loved the path that I have created for myself, but it is time for me to take a new and totally unfamiliar step. For me, that means to get a "real job". One with benefits and that pays more than a students salary. It's time...

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Just an update.

I haven't posted in a while, and I've made some big changes.

1. I took a trip by myself to Pokhara, Nepal and stopped by this beautiful lake called Begnas Lake. The place was completely empty while I was there and the himalayas could be seen just over the mountains.

2. After a lot of thought, I decided to leave my volunteer program early and am no longer in Nepal. I have all sorts of justifications for this decision, but the most important one is that it just wasn't working out for me. It wasn't an easy decision, but I don't regret it at all.

3.I am now in Goa, India where it is warm and beautiful. The part of goa that I am is relaxing and not filled with all the crazy parties that Goa is so infamous for. \

4. Unfortunately, I have been extremely sick for about 5 days now. I went to the doctor and he gave me a bunch of medicine, which seem to be working temporarily.

5. It's New Years Eve and there's now way I'll be able to celebrate with the way I've been feeling. But I am quite satisfied with the past year and look forward to the year to come.

6. I have to leave India by Jan 12. I'm either headed to the U.S. or to Thailand. I haven't quite decided yet.

hopefully more in-depth posts to come. Happy New Year!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


The history of Thanksgiving that we learn as children is so friendly. As we grow older we learn the skewed reality of the "thanksgiving story", but one thing remains the same. We take the time of Thanksgiving to cook giant meals and get together with friends and family. We sit at the dinner table and everyone says something they are thankful for. Usually people are thankful for their friends, family, and the food on their table. This is my third Thanksgiving outside of the U.S. Even when I am in the U.S., I spend thanksgiving with my friends and family, but there is also a lot of family and friends that are very far away. I have fading memories of spending thanksgiving as a child at my Aunts house or with other family friends. But for many years now, my family of 3 has spent all our thanksgivings with my "second family". When I was very young, this family invited me and my family to become a part of their family and over the years they have become really like family for me. For thanksgiving, each person will make something and bring it over to their house and everyone will join together to share and amazing meal. I am here in Nepal, where the poverty is blatant and the opportunities that people have are limited. Most people in this country will never eat a meal like the one on the thanksgiving table. The other Americans I am with and I will put together the best Thanksgiving meal we can and we will show the Israelis what its like to have a Thanksgiving meal. We will go around the table and have everyone say what they are thankful for. What am I thankful for?


I am thankful for my friends, my family, my education, my freedom, my knowledge, my mind, my physical ability, the physical and mental ability of those around me, and I am thankful for my open mind. I am thankful to be in a place like Nepal, where I can learn a new culture, a new way of life, and expand my mind and knowledge. I am thankful for my empowerment, my capability of speech, the internet, and the feeling of really LIVING my life. I'm thankful for all who love me and all who I love. And I'm thankful for all the difficult situations that I have experienced and the opportunity to turn them into learning experiences and growth.

Happy Thanksgiving. This is the only time of year I get a little homesick while I'm away.

The Himalayas

I feel like I have gotten only small tastes of the Himalayas so far. From India to Nepal, I have tempted myself with the foothills, but have not gotten close enough to see the enormousness of this famous mountain range. In India, I went to the Everest Museum and saw an amazing diagram of the Himalayas. I find myself becoming more and more fascinated and more and more drawn to them. Before coming to Nepal, my one goal was to do the "tea-house trekking" lower part of the mountain range. Upon arrival to Nepal, my goal was to see Mt. Everest; to find the best view of the mountain that I could. Now that I've been in Nepal for about a month and a half, I can feel my goals changing. I feel this drive to do the Mt. Everest basecamp trek. It is a 14 day trek both ways, which takes you to the basecamp of Everest. The place where the hardcore trekkers who attempt Everest begin. My program ends in February, so it will be very cold. However, it is one of the most popular times of year to trek in Nepal because the visibility is better. I think I want to do it. I dream of it. I'm sure if I will do it. I leave my plans always open to change, but at the moment I really want to do this trek. If I decide to do it, it'll cut my trip shorter because can be pretty pricey. I have time to think about it. But I love having these types of options. It's amazing!!!!

Flying High!

I waited with 2 other volunteers to catch our bus to Kathmandu. We stood by the side of the rode waving our hands at buses, which ultimately flew by us full with people. As bus after bus passed us, I started waving at some of the truck drivers head for the capital, hoping to find a ride. Eventually, a bus stopped and us and the Nepalis waiting for a bus rushed toward the doors. The driver didn't take anyone inside, and we headed to the back to climb to the top, just to watch it pull away from us. Eventually another bus stopped for us. The Nepalis pushed their way on and the 3 of us foreigners were instructed to climb up top. We were a little excited for this, our first chance to ride the top of the bus. It's an experience that we all wanted before leaving Nepal. We climbed up the ladder and made ourselves "comfortable", sitting on people's bags. We made sure our bags were relatively secure and found places to hold on as the bus took off. Now, if I were a bus driver with human beings riding the top of my bus as I drive the windy and bumpy roads of Nepal, I think I would manage my speed a little to make sure nobody got hurt. This is not the philosophy of a Nepali bus driver who has been putting people on the top of his bus since he first started driving. As we rounded each turn, we shifted our weight and grabbed various parts of bags and the small railings to feel more secure. The reality is that we were fine, but this was not an experience we were used to. As we worried for our lives and I pictured us tumbling off and down the mountain, we tried to use Beyonce as a way to destract us. It worked. The truth is, it was really fun. If it were slightly safer, we had the best seats on the bus. We watched as the bus pulled away from the magnificant views of Nepal and starred in awe at the top of the Himalayas. The cool breeze against our skin, sun on our faces, and really feeling a part of the scenery. It was also funny to see people's reactions of seeing 3 foreigners riding the top of the bus. It is common to see people packed on the top of the bus around Nepal and India, but it is never only 3 foreigners. People waved as we passed by, trucks honked, men and women on motorcycles smiled and waved and lowered their bandanas from their mouths to say "hello" before putting it back to protect them from the pollution. There was even a few guys riding the top of the truck who were joking about how tight we were holding on. At one point the money collector for the bus swung his body onto he roof as we were holding on for our lives. He was so comfortable moving along the outside of this bus while it traveled down the windy roads. As we approached the checkpoint to enter Kathmandu, we were instructed off the rooftop and into the bus filled with Nepalis, and we headed to our stopping point.

Mud Mansion

When I first arrived with my 6 roommates to Mahadav Besi, we arrived to our mud house and were overwhelmed with the amount of work it needed. Our task of the first few days in the village was simply to make our home liveable. The house sits in a beautiful location with views of mountains/hills from all angles. Their are fields everywhere and it is on "the road" in this small part of the village. We have neighbors attached to our house and the next nearest house is where the Nepali staff of my program live. Other than that, there is a "Rye Village" about 10 minutes away, another "Rye Village" past that, and those living in the stone quarry down by the river. There is one school at the top of a hill where many of the "Rye" children go to school and farms everywhere. It is absolutely beautiful. It felt like cleaning out someone else's garage as we pulled everything out of the house and layed it out front. We cleaned and went through everything, deciding what to throw, what to keep, and how to make this place a home. The structure is made of wood covered by mud. After all the clean-up, here is what it is like. From the road, you walk down a path, which is more like a "walking trail", lined to the right by sugar cane and to the left by fields waiting to be churned and replanted. Now, we had begun our garden, which is along this path. We are also building a small fishpond in this area. In front of the house is a porch and open area, which is shared with our neighbor 'hajur buwaa', an old man who is slunched with missing teeth and an cathedar, but still tends the sugar cane fields and works with the grains. What a tough old man. On the front of the porch is a hammock, built by one of my roommates who I swear can build ANYTHING and really has the innovation and energy to do them all (hence the fishpond). Approaching the front door, on the left is another door that leads to one of the rooms. You duck your head through the front door (the whole place is built for people no taller than I) and to the right is the "living room" and kitchen. It is basically a mud room with a table, a couple blankets and pillows to sit on, a 2 burner stove, and a fireplace made of mud (which we don't use due to poor ventilation techniques). A little forward, and you run into the wall, but to the left is the ladder. Going up the ladder to the second floor, you are exposed to a bigger room, filled with 3 beds. There is an attic area above there, but it's hard to get up there and I'm not interested in whats up there. Then through the doorway takes you to a large balcony separated by a doorway. One guys sleeps on the balcony sometimes, but started to get cold. To the right, is another door, which leads to my mud room, which I share with another American. The beds are are basically wooden boards with a few blankets on top. I don't sleep well. I keep warm, but when I sleep on my side, I feel like my ribs are crushing into me. I must add that it is not the worst bed of my life and my bed in Mongolia was much worse! I mostly stay awake from the mice. The mice on the metal roof and in the walls is absolutely insane!!! I've tried earplugs, I think I put them in wrong. I've tried listening to my Ipod, the stimulation to my brain keeps me awake. The mice are most active between the hours of 11pm and 6 am. They drive me nuts! And up until the other night, dew fell on my face as I was trying to sleep in the morning, which gathered on the metal ceiling. My builder roommate put up plastic to stop this. So nice of him. He's also build a fire oven outside and an outdoor "shower". It's quite impressive the things he comes up with. I think I learn just by watching him. We also have an outhouse... which is..... an outhouse.

We are making the most of our mud mansion.

Mahadav Besi

I am back in Kathmandu after about a week and a half in the town of Mahadav Besi, where I will be spending the next 3 months. The village feels like its in the foothills of the mountains. It is absolutely beautiful. The hills look like they have giant steps, which are the fields where the people get their livelihood. They grow rice, potatoes, cabbage, and whatever else. Their crops are not very diverse but as time goes by, they are widening the variety. The land is green and beautiful and from walking around and talking to people, I am slowly learning more about agriculture. One day, we took a hike down the river and through countless rice fields to one of the nearby waterfalls. It was absolutely beautiful, but hurt as I stuck my head underneath to wash my hair and body. The weather is amazing, with the sun shining basically every day. The temperatures drop around 6 pm as you watch the sun fall behind the mountains. The evenings are not too cold, but then the temperature drops again around 11pm and I am happy I bought a good sleeping bag from the REI used sale right before I left. The night sky is pitch black, with almost no light pollution. The stars illuminate the sky with clarity, but I must admit, the view is nothing compared to that of the countryside sky of Mongolia. Where I live, is along a road that is connected to the "city", which consists of a piece of the main road that is lined with small shops and vegetable venders. Behind the market are a couple schools, the health and police posts, and a few more shops. The roads are full of children in their school uniforms, indicating which school they go to. Throughout the village and the market area are men, children, and women carrying impossibly heavy loads with a strap that goes across their heads. Few people in this area speak English. I find it difficult to meet people, but I have become friendly with 2 people in the market. They are brother and sister and work in a fabric store with their family. They are a Muslim family and I am hoping the girl will take me to the Mosque with her one of these days. I eat lunch at the same place everyday. Nepalis eat Dhal Bhat (rice with vegetables and lentil soup) two times a day. I am not a huge fan of Dhal Bhat and occasionally switch it up with spicey chicken dumplings or vegetarian chow mein (neither of which are very tasty).

The Volunteer work is coming along.... slowly, but I am really excited for some of the work opportunities. There is a group of people who work in the stone-quarry. They have a very difficult life and work hard breaking stones into gravel. They are borderline in a debt bondage situation and I plan on assessing if it is trafficking or not. Other than that, I will be working with 2 women's groups on issues of HIV/AIDS, domestic violence, and sexual abuse awareness, along with communication styles and financial management techniques. I will also be working with a youth group in this area. These people live on the riverbed and work really hard. They live in temporary housing situations but get stuck for more years than intended. I must say, their lives are very difficult but they are a very strong people and live in a very beautiful place. Also, I will be working at a blind children's school and another school. I am excited to dive right in!