Lake Atitlan from the San Pedro Volcano

Lake Atitlan from the San Pedro Volcano
Lake Atitlan from the San Pedro Volcano

05 February 2012

My Birthday

I was born twenty-eight years ago today. This is my third birthday that I have celebrated outside of the United States. This coming year will be the longest year of my life thus far. Why? Well there are 29 days in February this year, but as we know that happens every 4 years. However, I started celebrating about 12 hours before the rest of you in North America. So as I get ready for bed here, I still have all day to celebrate in the United States with you!

How does one spend their birthday in Nepal? Well, from what I’ve learned from conversations here, most Nepali people do not know the day they were born. Historically most Nepali babies were born at home, perhaps delivered by a family member or, if you were lucky, a midwife lived close enough to come assist in the delivery. Nonetheless, most people live in rural villages and the sense of an exact birthdate had little, if no, value. Today there are incentives for women to deliver in hospitals and, increasing over just the last several years, children are now growing up to know their birthdays. That being said, birthdays in Nepal are just not that big of a deal.

Sticking to the Nepali attitude regarding celebrating (or even knowing or recognizing) one’s birthday, I made no special plans. Of course, I ended up having a splendid and special day. I woke up to a birthday call via skype with David. Enjoyed breakfast with Libby. Had an awesome morning at the hospital – my first day in the nursery (I loved it!). Ate at our favorite lunch spot right across the road from the hospital. Took a chiya break in the afternoon sunshine before finishing our time at the hospital in outpatient clinic with some precious kids.

The streets seemed extra busy today as we walked home from work. As we turned off the main road and headed towards our house, we were greeted by a magnificent surprise. It has been quite hazy lately. When it’s hazy here, you can’t make out the mountains at all. The “haziness” can be so thick sometimes that you can barely even make out the nearby foothills. I had prayed that I would get to see the mountains today, my birthday. I know God answers prayers in so many different ways.  Some are answered in ways that we would hope for and other times they are answered in not so obvious ways. They are heard and they are answered. Well today this prayer of mine was answered exactly as I had hoped for. The snow-capped Himalayan mountain range rose about the dust, noise, buildings, pollution, and the foothills. Even though the day was far from being perfectly clear, those mountain peaks jumped out of the sky, soaring where you would think only clouds could be. Thank you God for allowing us to come right to you in prayer. Thank you for caring about the big things and the small things. Thanks for showing off your gorgeous creation for us to see here in Nepal today.

Rooftop view of the mountains, from our guesthouse. Look in the distance, there are mountains - not just clouds (Better in person!)

After an extended viewing of the mountains from our rooftop, Libby and I headed into Kathmandu via taxi. We met up with her parents who had quite the day of walking and touring, and headed into Thamel for dinner. Since her parents were to be having traditional Nepal food in coming night, we decided on Korean food for dinner tonight. By map and guidebook, Libby meticulously led us through the disorganized streets to the alley of a well-reviewed Korean restaurant. 

Libby with her parents, excited we found our dining destination.

I don't think I’ve ever had Korean food and was excited to try something new. Based on Libbys’ recommendation, I ordered bibimbap and was served a piping hot bowl of rice, vegetables, stir-fried beef, and a freshly cracked egg – all of which you mix up together as soon as it is served, as the dish is so hot that there is still some more cooking to be done! There were lots of little side dishes and steaming hot soup as well. 

Missing Libby from the photo. Now if only David and Mike could have been here too...

After dinner we made a surprise stop at a bakery to look for a birthday cake or some other celebratory dessert. I picked out a “chocolate ball." We enjoyed our desserts on a second-level outdoor cafĂ© with reggae music in the background overlooking the streets of Thamel.

My birthday dessert: a "chocolate ball" - it really was all chocolate.
After a short taxi ride home and a hot shower, I’m now warm and cozy, curled up in bed, missing my husband, but excited to extend my birthday celebration a bit longer when I wake up in a few hours to watch the Super Bowl via Skype with David. Let the celebration continue….

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