4th Workaway and the Rural Life
06.12.2016 35 °C
It was time to move on South! We were lucky to get a window seat on the first leg of our long drive to our 4th Workaway in Meghauli near the National Park of Chitwan.
We got off in Naryanghaat, a buslting little city, and found the local bus that would drop us off at Bishnu's Eco Park. We let the driver know of our destination as we crammed on to the hot crowded bus, decked out in tassles and Hindu gods and rumbled into the country side.
It is very commendable how calm and organized these ticket boys are as they slowly rotate thru the bumping buses and give collect fees and give exact change while calling out people who might miss their particular stop and somehow manage to find room between the bodies and bags and whatever else is pulled on board!
Our new rural atmosphere was so peaceful with all the buffalo, goats and chickens wandering around with houses open to the breeze. We were also able to breathe a lot easier as we got further away from the smog of the city and the mass of cars. Unfortunately It was still rare to catch a glimpse of blue sky as it was the burn-off season for the farmers.
When we finally arrived, our host Bishnu was waiting for us and Ariel managed to shake his hand thru the bus as it was pretty obvious who he was looking for. The only foreigners out this way were coming to volunteer with Bishnu who was an ex-banker and had bought land next to his aging parents. He had many dreams that he shared with us as he toured us around his property. It was unusually quiet when we arrived as all the volunteers had left and we the faces of the next wave.
Bishnu had huge gardens spread out over the property of herbs, veggies and pineapples and banana plants (not in season sadly).
He had huts for volunteers (we got our own personal one with basic beds and mosquito net). Our shower was in a hut that dumped rain water on you, but we found it more relaxing to fill our painted pond with the water pump and lounge in that during the day or dump water buckets on ourselves to counter the heat of the day.
There was also a long house for meditation, a house for the local native's to practice their art and teach their culture.
Previous volunteers had built the beginnings of a recycling program for the villagers and there were 2 buffalo who munched around the banana plants. There were also plenty of friendly stray dogs who came and went (sometimes with your sandals) and a mangy looking cat that lived off rice and the lizards.
He also had a stage for performances and a local volunteer to teach yoga (at 4am!).
He worked with NGO's to study the local environment and culture and hoped to get funding for bigger projects for local investment in agriculture. He also had ties with government bodies and went to meetings in Kathmandu weekly, and to visit his wife and daughter who still lived there.
He also employed Gita, a single mother with her son who lived there, as he needed someone to help with cooking and making his special meals as he dealt with diabetes without any medicines. She made delicious dhal baht for us 2 times a day, or sometimes fried rice with eggs. And lots of tea. Her son was a smiley little 6yr old rug-rat who liked to throw our frisbee around and laugh hysterically at our failures or smack our bums if we weren't looking.
The whole property was also open for anyone to visit and relax. We had daily visits from the local kids who would quizz us in the full repertoire of english which mostly included, “Sister, what is your name!” “Brother, what are you doing?”. Sometime we convinced them to help us with what we were doing. Sometimes school groups would come and investigate our work and quizz us.
The older boys would usually come by to join in our evening activities or use the free wifi that occasionally worked.
Our favourite visitor was Anas who was a local young man who despite having learning disabilities was a energetic worker and put our digging to shame.
- Kev with Anas
After we enjoyed our tour we were later joined by 4 other volunteers. Cassie from Australia, Ane & Ida from Denmark and Thibat from France. We were in good company and our new schedule for the next 2 weeks was as follows;
4am – Optional yoga/laughing yoga (many people woke up to the laughter of the local women who mostly particilated)
6:30am - Tea and biscuits
7am - Start Bishnu's choice of projects
10am - Dhal baht. Break for heat of day/free time
4Pm - Continue projects
7pm - Dhal baht.
We quickly added “Samosa o-clock” which was around 2pm when we got peckish and walked the few minutes to the village which was about 5 blocks of little shops and ate at the best samosa kitchen in the world. It cost about 20 Rp or about 50cents per fresh samosa and we usually were given samosas and whatever else they had cooked which included chowmein (30Rp), girri (10Rp), and pakora (5Rp). It was hard to say no.
Our first main project at the Eco Park was to build the mud man! Essentially Bishnu had seen grand garden designs which included “living faces” and he set us to work hauling dirt and forming a face. Was harder than it sounds! We eventually got it looking human enough (some said dragon) and Ariel painted the eyes.