The First 48 Hours

Yesterday was a lot of things. Scary, new, exciting. It was scary coming here at night, because I had no idea where I was. All I knew was that the cab drove off of the main street, down the dirt roads, and into a little piece of road that is more piles of bricks and trash than drivable street. I have a bottom floor flat in my building, which is across from Raksha Nepal, the NGO that I am volunteering at.

I chose to go straight home after the flight, instead of getting something to eat with the girls who picked me up since I was pretty tired from traveling for so long. It was really after unpacking my things into my flat, that I had the very scary realization of just how far from home I really am. It’s scary being so far away from home, alone. Especially at night when the noises are foreign and the streets are new, and I have no idea of where I am or really what I am doing here.

Today, however showed me just how wonderful it is here. While yesterday was spent in a daze of learning about the shelter, meeting people, and trying to explain who I am to everyone I met, today was a lot easier. Saturday is the weekly holiday/weekend here, so I didn’t need to be in to the shelter at any specific time. Instead I tried to sleep in a bit, and hung out watching TV and trying to decide how to spend my day. I figured I would try and walk around a bit, see more of the area around me, and maybe try and find an internet café so I could finally get internet.

My day was decided for me, quickly, when I heard a banging at the door early in the afternoon. “Jenny! Jenny!” Two of the girls who are my age, Isu and Rekha, who work at the shelter, were at my door, looking for me! They have decided to take me under their wing and befriend me so that I have friends here. They waited for me to pull on jeans, then we walked to Thamel, the busier, more touristy area just a ten minute walk away from our district, Lanichaur. There we met one of the other volunteers for lunch: buff momo (mutton dumplings, essentially), french fries, and paneer pakora. After that they took me to a store to get some groceries and ingredients to make tea with, and took me back to my flat to teach me to make Nepali tea for myself! They are so sweet, really making sure that I don’t feel alone here, and that I know that I can come to them for anything.

Isu and Rekha are partially in charge of helping to entertain the children at the shelter, so we went back and brought all of the kids up to the roof and turned on music for a dance party. We spent a good hour or so dancing up there, and one of the children even stole my phone to take some videos! It was so much fun just playing with all of the children—they all would come up to me, going “sister! Sister! Come dance!”. And beyond the crowded and colorful roofs of the city were the mountains rising up in the north. It’s really quite an amazing thing to see.

It’s still hard adjusting to this new place. Cold showers, muddy streets and strange food are just part of it. But having this whole family that really wants to take me in and make me feel at home makes it so much easier. They treat me like a sister, constantly making sure that I am feeling okay, that I have food, water, everything that I need. It is such a warm, open place to be. And while it is still scary at times (well, I am only two days in…) it is also such a warm and sweet place to be at the same time.  I still work to get used to some customs (it’s hard to remember to take off my shoes outside, still!), but I know that I will get used to them soon!


2 thoughts on “The First 48 Hours”

  1. Darling Jenna,
    Wonderful description of your first hours and day there. As I wrote to you earlier, keep writing. It’s exciting to read your work. I’m very glad you had those two to help you ease in so that you did not remain a stranger in a strange land..

  2. JSmalls – So proud of you and your courage! Only 48 hours and it seems you’ve already experienced so much. Keep writing and soaking up everything there! XXOO AOE, Aliza

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