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  Mount Everest Foundation for Sustainable Development in Nepal and Tibet: Service Trek led by Everest summiter Dan Mazur: Dispatch 6

The other picture is of our Sherpani Kandu getting het Tikka in the morning of the 14th before we left Nirmalidanda. The people we camped at gave us a really nice goodbye meal, a Tikka (which is a multicolored mark on the forehead) and a Garland made of Marigolds, all because of the Tihar festival.


Dear EverestNews.com, This is John talking:  I'm typing this in a tent in the village of Nirmalidanda.  A lot has happened since we last sent a dispatch.  After climbing the huge 2-hour hill from Lamidanda on the trail to Diktel we reached Nuntalaa high on a ridge overlooking the Rawa Khola 5,000 feet below.  It seems as though every valley in Nepal is at least the equivalent of the Grand Canyon in terms of elevation differential.  Nuntaalaa is mostly a Thamang town.  We sat around for quite a while and had daalbhaat cooked by the Sherpas.  We've been using various tea shop kitchens to cook our own meals which is working out well since we have more control over sanitation.


After lunch, two more hours of walking mostly on the level on a partially constructed road with no motor traffic, followed by a 1,000 foot gradual descent, brought us to the large ridge top town of Diktel Bazar.  I couldn't recognize things as we descended into town since there's been so much construction including a prison (presumably for Maoists).  We had to pass through a military checkpost; only some of the Sherpa's packs were searched and only superficially.  The westerners were waived on through.  As we walked through the single street town, I asked someone if the Layalu Hotel is still here.  They indicated that it did so we marched on down to the Layalu.  I stayed in the Layalu many a night on walks back and forth from Lamidanda to Nirmalidanda when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer.  The Layalus are a Newar family and both the mother and father were still there.  I gave them a photo I had made 20 years ago of their daughter Lamas who is now a teacher in Kathmandu.  Diktel has a curfew from 7pm to 4am so we had to finish up daalbhaat and get back across the street to our rooms.  Diktel still has all the morning sounds I remember - dogs barking, roosters crowing, and people clearing their throats.  Shortly before we left town, a Khotang journalist found me.  He asked if he could interview me for local Khotang television, so I agreed.  The jist of the interview  was "Khotang then and now".  It must sound and look pretty funky since all the questions were in Nepali and my answers were all in my limited Nepali.  It would be a hoot to see it aired but it will be after Tihar celebration which is after I go home.  This poor journalist never leaves Diktel where he feels safe; he says the Maoists don't like him.  One of the questions he asked was if I detected the tension in the hills these days due to the Maoists.  I sort of dodged the question by saying things still seem quite nice for a tourist.


In the morning (Nov. 11), we began walking to Nirmalidanda at 11:30am, descending steeply down 2,000 feet to the Miya Khola on a familiar trail where we crossed a good suspension bridge.  Then we  had to ascend for a long time up through rice terraces in the hot sun, sweating profusely.  Two or three more hours of walking brought us finally to Nirmalidanda along a trail I had walked many times.  As we rounded a corner, we encountered a group of men who stopped us and asked a few questions.  Given the Nepali grapevine, I'm sure they knew we were coming.  I told them that I had helped build a water system in Nirmalidanda 20 years ago and we had come to visit and look things over.  They seemed alright with this and suggested we go on to the next house along the trail to stay there tonight.  I immediately recognized the old Rai man living there along with his extended family.  His son - Jit Man Rai - is now the water committee chairman for the village of Nirmalidanda.  So we set up all the tents in their front yard and we had a great meal of tarkaari bhaat (vegetables and rice) along with chicken - yes they killed a couple of roosters for us.  We had sort of restless night because their young dog would howl a very loud high pitched howl like a coyote every few hours.  Then the roosters and hens set in toward morning.

I pulled out my people photos from 20 years ago, and wow how happy it made them.  I would ask if so and so was still alive, etc. and with the exception of only 2 or 3 people, everyone in the photos is still alive.  This morning, we moved our camp up to the center of the village about 1000 feet above Jit Man Rai's pitched tents in dry rice terrace below a Chetri's house.  More people came around who remembered me and I remembered many faces.  They looked at the photos and I've now given away over half of the more than 200 I had brought.  They seem very happy that we came.  This afternoon, we walked along rice terraces up to the spring source for the water system, another 1000 feet above our current camp - vertical country, Nepal!  Jit Man Rai, the water chairman is going to make a list of parts and supplies (pipe, fittings, cement, etc.) needed to maintain the water system since UNICEF pulled out of this work several years ago.  Maybe we can find a source of funding so that the needed supplies can be purchased.


Dan says: During our visit to Patale, the group of villages where the Mount Everest Foundation for the Sustainable Development of Nepal and Tibet has begun building a health clinic, we noticed a series of conditions: 1. There are two tiny schools which are extremely small and crude in comparison to schools in other villages. The desks and overall condition of the  buildings are very poor, and with only a few tiny dank classroom, it is obvious that not much an education could be received here. The health post itself is currently located in the family house of Mingma Sherpa, who has kindly donated a large extra room in the middle floor. Also, they built a small separate kitchen here. The health care workers live and work in this room and kitchen, and there are serious disadvantages to locating the clinic here. The main disadvantage is that  sick people are coming in and out of this family house, and illness could be spread to the host family members. Obviously the health clinic cannot survive in its present location. Another interesting thing we noticed is that the village has several old gompas (buddhist monasteries or shrines) which are free standing in separate buildings. These are largely intact but in an alarming state of disrepair, with lumber being stored inside, and prayer books strewn about, holes in roofs, etcetera. The locals, when questioned, stated that people stopped worshipping regularly in these gompas 15 years ago. Another factor of note is that forest use is being regulated by local consensus. Each family is only allowed to harvest 10 loads of firewood per year, and this is not

allowed to be cut, but must only be taken from dead and down trees. If a larger tree is to be cut, for say, lumber, then a permit  must be granted by unanimous approval of the forestry committee.



Hello EverestNews.com. This is Elselien writing. Hope you are doing ok. Since John has written such a nice and complete dispatch, my Dutch one will be small this time. Could you please put that on the web for the Dutch readers? Thanx a lot!


Vanuit Nirmalidanda VDC schrijf ik deze dispatch. Nirmalidanda was het 2e doel van deze trek en het is geweldig om hier te zijn. We zijn dagen lopen verwijderd van elke connectie naar Kathmandu en voelen ons echt in 'the middle of nowhere'. Sinds de laatste dispatch zijn we een aantal afgelegen dorpen gepasseerd en hebben beetje bij beetje kunnen ervaren wat de Maoisten voor een effect hebben in deze regio. Persoonlijk merken we er niet veel van, maar de mensen in Lamidanda hebben geen elektriciteit door toedoen van de Maoisten, in Diktel (een redelijk groot Bazaar dorp) was een grote legerbasis, een gevangenis, een checkpost -waar alleen onze sherpa's hun rugzak hoefden openen- en een nachtklok om de situatie rustig te houden. Verder komen we zo nu en dan een 'Red Sock' (zoals wij ze noemen) tegen tijdens het trekken, maar die kijken ons alleen erg argwanend aan en reageren niet op ons (over)vriendelijk 'Namaskar'. En gisteren werden we net voor ons einddoel hier staande gehouden door een groep mannen. Kandu die iets door liep werd resoluut terug gefloten. Volgens hen konden we beter blijven waar we waren en overnachten bij een aangewezen familie en pas vanochtend verder trekken naar Nirmalidanda (nog maar 30 minuten). Ik vond het maar raar, maar als onbekende in dit gebied kun je maar beter luisteren en dus hebben we gekampeerd in de voortuin van wat later bleek een oude bekende van John te zijn. Uiteindelijk dus helemaal geen slechte uitkomst!


John ontmoet steeds meer mensen van 20 jaar geleden en heeft al de helf van zijn 200 foto's uit kunnen delen. Nu het woord zich verspreidt blijven mensen komen naar onze kampeerplek en zijn allemaal even nieuwschierig naar die buitenlanders met al hun spullen. Vanochtend werd ik wakker met vijf nieuwschierige kinderhoofdjes voor mn tent :-) !


Ik vind het heel speciaal om na de Himalaya, nu ook dit afgelegen gebied van Nepal te zien. Hopelijk tot de volgende dispatch, Elselien te Hennepe.


Thanks for listening and for your support, from Daniel Mazur and all of us at SummitClimb.com





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