Saturday, May 2, 2015

Nepal: Himalaya, earthquakes and white water


We arrive in a buzzing world of honking cars and motor bikes, chaotically driving through the dusty and dirty streets of Kathmandu. What a contrast with Micronesia, the slow pace made place for a very different scene. 
In the night we walk through the narrow streets of Thamel full of tiny little restaurants, tiny outdoors gear shops and trekking agents. I feel right at home. This is expedition country. Land of trekking, white water paddling and climbing the highest peaks of the earth. 
We take the bus to Pokhara, the 130 miles through the mountains along narrow roads takes us 8 hrs. Pokhara is at the foot of the 8084 meter (25,500ft) high Annapurna. 

After spending a couple of days paddling and exploring the mountains around Pokhara disaster strikes. The ground suddenly started  to shake. People scream and when we look up, we see the buildings moving violently, just about the fall over. Only later, when we met a guide who told us about the many buildings that collapsed and the casualties in Kathmandu, we realize this was a serious earthquake. I contact Dagmar, my wife to tell her that we are alright. I get a very worried but also relieved Dagmar on skype. It is in times like this that you realize how much we mean to each other.  By then my mailbox is also full with concerned family and friends who are checking to see if we are alright. The following night there were many after shocks. Twice we wake up and run outside. By now we have read the reports from the rest of the country. Some villages near the epicenter are totally wiped out and Kathmandu is also seriously hit. Although in Pokhara there was no serious damage, everybody is afraid and doesn't want to stay and sleep in their homes. So everybody is camping outside in makeshift tents. 

A day later we take a bus to the Madhi River. Along the road I see many houses partly destroyed, people sitting on the street and again a strong after shock and everybody runs on the street. After a long day through difficult terrain we got to Borhletar. Here far away from the rest of the world you find the real Nepal. We put up our tents on the river bed. And meet many local kids. They are all talking about one thing, the earthquake. Even here nobody wants to go inside and everybody is camping or just sitting outside. At night we walk from family to family and get invited for tea or food and hear many stories about Nepal but mostly about the earthquake. 
The Nepalese are very shy, humble and very very friendly. They are as interested in us as we are in them. 
Here is were the real adventure starts. We push off  and go down the river. Our river, labeled a class 2, is a mild one, but exiting enough with all the gear on the boards.

We pass through beautiful landscapes and small little farms, kids playing in the water, fully excited when we pass by and some fishing for their evening meal.  We are on the river for 2 days before it is time to go back to Kathmandu where we see the devastation the earthquake did, collapsed buildings, a big mess everywhere and many homeless camping in the streets. 

We get to our hostel from 4 days ago where we meet the owner who tells us 3 people died in front of his hostel by the collapsed wall and the other hostel down the street totally came down. Here it is serious but it is even worse inside the country where whole village are flattened. 
I see the suffering and we decide that we should help too. A donation to The Red Cross seems the best option.  They have people on the ground and all donations go directly to Nepal. 
We would like to ask everybody to do the same at:
www.redcross.org 
We leave with a heavy heart. But also with the notion I have to come back soon and bring my family.  The rest of this story you can find in Sup and outdoor magazines around the world. 
Next stop Ethiopia...

4 comments:

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