The taxi from Bhaktapur dropped us off close to Jawalekhel. He couldn’t go all the way into the center of this district of Patan because of a potential “strike” causing a traffic disruption. We climbed out of the tiny taxi, strapped on our backpacks, and though we really had no idea where we were, we started walking. After walking along a busy street with racing buses, taxis, cars, motorbikes, and bicycles, with larger storefronts than we had yet seen, we pulled our a map to try to make sense of our whereabouts. David, “Mr. Awesome Sense of Direction,” pointed us the right way and soon enough after crossing the street and changing direction, high up on a telephone pole we spotted a blue-and-white sign pointing us to “Shalom.” After a few left and right turns taking us down some smaller alleys, we arrived at the gate of our new home. We rolled back the heavy metal black gate, glanced up a series of small balconies on the corner of the 4-or 5-floor structure, and made eye-contact with an older Nepali woman who had just come to the window. Unsure of our next best step, we waited in the courtyard. This woman, whom we would soon learn was our house “didi” (older woman, helper), waved us in through the front door. She showed us to our room, offered us a bottle of water with a couple of glasses, and gave us our key. Our room had a giant bed – 2 twin beds pushed together creating an almost seamless union, two walls of windows, a desk, and our very own bathroom.
That first afternoon we ate at the nearby Bakery Café (a Kathmandu/Patan chain of restaurants offering delicious fair in a relaxed environment, served to you by an entirely deaf wait staff). We then found our way to Patan Hospital, in order to scope out our route for the next morning (Krista’s first day of work). Later we picked up our larger backpacks, which we had left at Olga’s during our trip to the outer rim of the Valley. We arrived home for the night, unpacked, and went to bed.
Throughout the course of the next week (1/23-1/30), David explored Patan during the day while Krista worked at the hospital. She is there from 8am until 4 or 4:30pm, with full days off on Wednesday and Saturday. Many of the adventures we experienced that week will be described in posts to this blog dedicated entirely to each unique event; however, in summary, we visited a couple of children’s homes, ate at a friend’s restaurant, experienced a full-on-no-vehicles-allowed “strike”, ate Dal Bhaat with our hands (or rather David did), went for our one-and-only jog, journeyed to Bodha (including Kopan Monastery), observed end-of-life practices at Pashupati Temple (cremation grounds), and learned much about Hindi and Buddhist culture at the Patan Museum in Patan’s Durbar Square. David was a busy man, meeting with a few different people that he was blessed enough to be connected with by some dear friends and family. Krista will write about her time in the hospital in more detail, but thus far - despite a very different set of available resources compared to what we get used to in the U.S. - she has observed compassionate thoughtful care of these most beautiful and precious Nepali children.
David’s last day here was Monday the 30th of January. He walked Krista to the hospital and then took a taxi straight to the airport. Krista arrived at the morning teaching session with tears in her eyes and sadness in her heart. Thankfully there is free internet in Singapore (first layover spot) and Skype, once home, to look forward to!