We walked a little ways back, towards the center of the village, and were invited again into the home of Brembahadur Basned, this time to feast on dal bhat prepared by his beautiful wife in their charred smoky kitchen.
To top it off we were served fresh water buffalo milk. It had the consistency of whole milk with an amazing natural sweetness balanced somewhere between almond milk and coconut milk– and served over leftover rice, it was quite a treat! We departed on the next leg of the days adventure with full bellies and necks covered in red floral garlands.
We wandered through a labyrinth of ancient stone walls, highly reminiscent of the Scottish highlands save for the mountainous valley out and around us. The walls converged and formed lush vertical terraces that grew grain and disproportionately giant rocks as well. These stones seemed out of place, but looking up at the irregular lumpy mountain crests led us to believe that they were displaced by massive landslides millennia ago.
As we wove our way through the landscape we unburdened our necks’ loads and left beautiful crimson maalas draped over pointed sections of stone walls and trees in our wake. It was our manner of paying respect to the trail, the community, and the future of the region.
We took a break in a beautiful shaded pine grove and chatted, danced, and napped, out of the afternoon sun’s harsh rays.
After a rest we made our way down to another dZi project, Narkel Basic School, completed in 2016. It was one long building built over a bluff and set on a huge foundation, with a smaller building below it, all earthquake proof with eight rooms in total. We were welcomed by smiling teachers and several students even though it was their vacation. They showed us their very simplistic yet elegant classrooms and we chatted about the school’s role in the community. There were also eco-san toilets on site which enables the school to sell their recycled urine to other members of the community, subsidizing the cost of school materials.
We wound down further into the valley, after having crossed and climbed for most of the day. Jitna was happy to invite us to his family’s tea shop where we were refreshed by a combination of incredibly sweet tea and spicy chat pate, an orangey seasoned popped rice served with diced vegetables.
As we continued, we came across a Brahman puja that was celebrating the 12th birthday of a young community member, and his entrance into society, akin to a bar mitzvah. At this point, he, like many before him in the Brahman community, has to don a cord stretching over one shoulder and his midsection called a junai that he will wear for the rest of his life. The celebratory group was decked out in vivid colors and they circled a large pile of hand-woven bamboo baskets on lavish looking rugs. We bid them adieu and descended once more, the final push, and arrived at the NGO headquarters at the base of the hill.
The NGO compound is hewn right out of the mountain and to the left is a gravel helicopter-landing pad (almost all other non-Nepalese visitors opt for a helicopter ride rather than the multi-day trek we’ve embarked on). This building houses the HQ for this area’s dZi office, the local NGO partner Solokhumbu Development Society, and the women’s co-op. Directly below was the Red Cross compound teeming with playing children.
Transparency is a difficult thing to achieve for a large organization.
The organizations here post each project and all associated costs on large posters. These posters are easily viewable for all members of the community, who must sign off on the projects! We’ve never seen transparency taken to this level before and once again feel so proud to be working with dZi. After meeting more members of the different organizations –and having a little drum jam in the dZi office– we could feel the energy in this building that is realizing so many dreams and brightening so many futures.
As we wound our way down into the valley a calmed silence hung over our group as the clouds clung to the mountaintops.
It was a day brimming with enlightening and empowering experiences, and despite the language barrier we we able to share and laugh so much. In order to reinvigorate after the long walk we played Frisbee in the center of town at the local schoolyard. With the community looking on, and slowly joining in, it was a truly perfect way to finish off our day.
We are very grateful for this opportunity to contribute to this amazing community and the important projects being undertaken with the help of the dZi foundation!
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