You might wonder what our alumni do after they depart the Mortenson Center. This week we were fortunate to hear from two of our alumni living in Nepal. They share some of their recent adventures and thoughts on the current challenges facing Nepal. We’re glad to see that Amelia and Tom are doing well!
Friends and family,
Namaste from Nepal!
What an interesting few months we’ve had! The monsoon season has ended, the evenings are sweater-worthy, and the mountains are starting to peak out of the sky. It’s really a beautiful time of year.
Tom and I have had a great summer. We’ve both been mountain biking a ton, exploring all over Kathmandu Valley, right from our front door! We’ve visited Bunaken, Indonesia for a week of diving, gone on field visits to Sindhupalchok and Lamjung, spent a week in Bangkok (Tom was on a two-week work trip there), and headed to the US for a crazy-fast trip – DC for a wedding, California, North Dakota, back to DC – in 10 days. Next week we’re heading to Annapurna Base Camp for a 10 day trek up into the mountains with friends.
Nepal has had an intense 6 months. On September 20th, Nepal officially promulgated their new constitution, more than 7 years in the making. What a relief for the country! They have missed deadline after deadline, but having read through it in it’s entirety (it’s a page turner), the country really did make remarkable progress. Before being officially declared, however, marginalized groups had been protesting for inclusion in the constitution. Throughout September, we had numerous “bandhs”, or strikes, mostly transportation strikes, which completely shut down movement everywhere.
Once the constitution came out, these groups were still upset with the result – parts of the country have been immobile for over 60 days. On top of that, India said they were unsatisfied with not being consulted on the constitution (they are worried the strikes on the border will spill into their states), and declared an unofficial blockage on goods and supplies entering Nepal. Being a landlocked country, Nepal has struggled. Fuel is scare, cars are on an even/odd driving schedule, fuel lines are backed up miles, fruit and vegetable prices have skyrocketed. And now that India has lifted the “unofficial blockade”, Nepali groups are still on strike, preventing vehicles from entering the country. What a mess!
Next week is Dashain, the biggest holiday time of the year – think 15 days of Christmas. Everyone leaves Kathmandu and heads back to their villages. Goat prices go through the roof, as families prepare for festivals, parties and celebrations. We all hope the fuel shortage is resolved before people try to start traveling. And the Calendar Determination Committee has declared that 10:55am the most auspicious time during Dashain to receive your tika. So set you alarm!
So that’s the quick wrap up. I’ve always found it fascinating/frustrating living in a country when they move through so much change. It’s a good study of human behavior. We were here years ago when the king was kicked out, and it’s been a long road for Nepal to get where it is.
Stayed tuned for more, and check out the blog for updates: www.gypsyclicks.com.
Amelia and Tom