Thursday, October 14, 2004

Building Logistics


My project this week was to help figure out the logistics of hauling 70 bags of cement from Kathmandu to Dawa’s village of Chaurikharka. We had several options to consider. Our first choice was to hire 70 porters in Kathmandu to walk a week until they reached the village of Chaurikharka. Economically that seemed like the most prudent choice. However, down-valley from Chaurikharka there seems to be a lot of Maoist unrest and a line of 70 porters walking along mountain trails would attract quite a bit of attention! Cement bags could easily be confiscated and sold to provide monies to fill the coffers of the insurgents. So rather than take that risk and cast a pall over the start of this project, we have decided to truck the bags of cement to Jiri where the road ends and then charter a Russian made helicopter (left over from the first Afghanistan invasion in the 80’s) to airlift it all to Lukla in the Everest region. From there it will only be an hour’s trek to Chaurikharka and hopefully we can commandeer lots of villagers to help out! Then in a similar fashion we will set to figuring out the transport of corrugated roofing material and support poles for the school building. It will then be the job of the villagers to haul up boulders from the Dudh Kosi river hundreds of feet below the village so that the “stone masons” can hand chisel each cobblestone building does seem rather incomprehensible!!!!

One of the main reasons that I feel so moved to go to Nepal in November is that I want to have some “ritual” around the start of this project. Yes, I could just wire the money and then go and visit when the project is completed hopefully in March. However, I am planning to call a “village meeting” when I get there in early November and explain (obviously through an interpreter) that a whole “community” of people have come together to make this dream a reality and that now we hope the village will engage through time and labor and take some ownership over this project. I hope to read off the names of everyone who has made a contribution and have each name drift off into the mountains the way that each Buddhist prayer wafts from the colorful prayer flags. It may sound corny but I think it sets an intention for the project ahead......Todd and his girlfriend Amanda will be traveling to Nepal two weeks before me and then fly up to Chaurikharka when I arrive. Amanda will be teaching in the school and Todd will be in the thick of the building project so it will be wonderful to have their eyes and ears recording it all for the next six months! These Sherpas who inhabit the southern flanks of the Himalayan range are good and bad, strong and weak, honest and dishonest like the rest of us. But few of those who visit them can remain indifferent to their loyalty, affection and charm, or unimpressed with their remarkable perseverence and courage.


So that seems to be enough for now. In closing I’d like to share a wonderful quote from Holly Payne who wrote the Virgin’s Knot:

Sometimes there are places in the world we have never been but the minute

we step into them we are forever changed. We have native towns, houses

where we grew up and return to now and then, but somehow, something

overtakes us when we set foot in our homeland. Some call it the karmic

debt land and we know it better than the place with which we are most familiar.

A crooked tree, a bend in the path, the way a mountain whispers. We need no

road signs here because we already know the way, and everything at once

becomes home.

I have felt such things in Nepal.......


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