The author Anita Desai once said “Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow” and I find myself agreeing.
We can all accept that life is unpredictable and it’s this search for order amid all of life’s chaos that keeps us moving forward. When I chose to journey to Nepal to complete my Master’s in Public Health Practicum, I was unaware of the full spiritual journey I was about to embark on.
I chose Nepal partly because access to clean water is difficult to a majority of the country. As well as the opportunity arising with International Medical Relief to be able to volunteer with a group of respiratory therapists, nurses, and physicians at local clinics in the valley.
On July 4th, 2017 I made my journey from Colorado to New York City, where I hopped a flight from JFK to Dubai International Airport. In Dubai, I took another flight into Kathmandu, where after 24 hours of traveling; I had made it to Nepal. Once landed, I was able to complete my practicum where I inquired details on water sources, sanitation, and filtration practices of the local Nepali people. I was able to volunteer at local clinics in the Bagmati Zone and really fell in love with Nepali culture, and most importantly, the people of Nepal. I was able to get to know some of my translators helping out in our clinics and experience their culture, their family life, and their ways of living.
On my first day of sightseeing, I grabbed my camera and hiking boots and made the walk from Moonlight Hotel to Monkey Temple (Swayambhunath). Where yes, indeed, there were some very cute monkeys crawling around and enjoying themselves as I found myself enjoying them. Getting to see not just the earthquake’s damage (Nepal Earthquake on 25th April 2015) but the beginning of a new hope of construction taking place in Durbar Square. Seeing the countries of the United States and Sri Lanka participating in the reconstruction is something both admirable and gives hope to the people of Nepal. I was able to catch a flight with Yeti Airlines and made my way across the sky to see THE Mt. Everest (as well as Mt. Nuptse and Mt. Lhotse) from above.
My trip lasted around 10 days, where I spent most of my time wandering around the Kathmandu valley (when not volunteering in local clinics). The nearby Temples and Stupas had such a calming ambiance that just being within the vicinity of caused joy. Getting introduced to the teachings of the Buddha himself was something moving and enlightening that I have returned to the United States still curious and wondering about. Seeing the “all seeing” eyes of enlightenment on every monument in Nepal was something I didn’t just notice, but inquired about. Understanding the art work of those creating their own Mantra Mandalas was incredible, and getting to learn the differences (and respect) between an intermediate and a master’s work. My only regret upon returning was not purchasing a Mantra for myself, but I know it will be one of my first buys once I return.
From the Chicken MoMos at Boudhanath Stupa’s rooftop restaurant “Best View Restaurant”, to getting a picture with the Holy Men at Pashupatinath Temple, to meeting some friends that I hope to have for a lifetime (both from Nepal-Laxmi Yonjan & the United States- Hannah Paulson and Molly Leary- additional International Medical Relief members from Minnesota); I cannot wait to go back to Nepal.
A must was visiting the Pashupatinath Cremation Temple, where I got to see how the people of Nepal spiritually say goodbye to their dead. As a Catholic, I truly enjoyed this experience and getting to learn and understand culturally how they prepare and cremate their loved ones to have them pass to the afterlife in peace. Not knowing a lot about this religion and it’s practices, this was one of my favorite places to visit in Nepal. I went twice and paid for a tour each time to learn about this beautiful passage. I have every intention to save up my future paychecks to be able to go and not only visit this beautiful country again, but to visit the friends that I made along the way.
On this trip I got more than I planned, but in a refreshing kind of way. Getting to make friends halfway across the world was something I truly enjoyed. I have every intention to visit them again soon and I am in constant contact with them as I have returned back to the States. I feel I’ve come home enlightened and have a thirst to go back to learn more about their culture, religion and philosophy of life. Each day I read more and more as I try to incorporate the teachings of Buddha. This trip to Nepal changed me in every way that travel is supposed to. The author Anita Desai once said “Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow” and I find myself agreeing.