Friday 20th July
The taxi was booked and the destination set with the driver, we were to meet a man on a bridge outside Thamel in a much more local area. The chaos stayed with us for the whole taxi ride but we saw different sights, the shops didn't have English writing, the contents weren't all tourist based but the area looked slightly more run down than Thamel. A big red iron bridge approached us and we took our belongings and stood in the middle at the top - we didn't know his name, what he looked like but he would surely spot us glowing white and looking out place. The bus to Domouli was arranged and directions drawn on a piece of paper, good old Nepalese timing meant we finally left after squeezing as many customers as possible in. The bus bumbled out of the city and back to the mountains, winding down the hills. All of a sudden the bus dropped an awful grinding noise could be heard, the driver controlled it very well but when we looked the wheel had snapped clean off the axcel. Luckily there was a Nepalese Australian there to help include us with information as this wasn't a tourist bus. After a few hours our replacement arrived and we continued to Domouli. We were looked after by the Nepalese Australian guy who took us to his Uncles and gave us refreshments whilst we waited to meet another man Kubesh. Due to our late arrival we had missed the bus to Maya Universe Academy and bounced along in a local jeep. The sunset was beautiful with a cloud between the mountains with the most spectacular silver lining. The driver climbed up rocky roads with Tommy on the roof getting thrown about and to finish we had to walk up 3 steep mud paths in the reducing day light and it started to rain! We were greeted by a dog barking 'May' and Probesh, Kedrin and Vay sat around outside the main house. After a warm welcome Kedrin started to cook on the clay stove attached to the house, we shared ideas and things we could help with, planning out the next few days.
Saturday 21st July
Today was a special day and a picnic had been arranged for the children, a pig was being slaughtered for it and Tommy had taken the job! Cockerels crowing, pigs grunting and insects generally making noise woke us up nice and early. The chosen pig was a bully and villagers had come to help with the deed. We went into the pig pen and 6 men chased and caught it, Tommy was handed a machete. I suddenly felt very sad for the pig as it squealed so loudly it pierced your ears. A stick was inserted into its mouth and it was carried down onto the flat ground, Tommy sliced its throat and then was directed to hack the head off. The body convulsed and jerked after the head was removed, there was far less blood than I imagined just one bowl. The villagers then set to carving and hacking the body apart. The head was chopped apart, bones, ears, brain, tongue and put in a pot to stew, luckily the eyes were removed - this was our reward. The villagers, volunteers and Probesh sat down for breakfast after 3 hours of butchering and divided the head between 20 us served in banana leaves. It was a peculiar dish as all the bones were mixed in but the locals devoured their portions, Tommy, Vay, Kedrin and I took more time picking off the bits that looked like pork, trying to ignore the bits of ears and brain. We spent the day relaxing, serving the children their lunch - 8kg of butchered body again bones and organs included, they ate this with a dried flattened rice. Next introduction was the shower which was 2 pipes out of a concrete block which the stream water was diverted to. The communal watering hole also provided drinking water for the village and was ten minutes away from the house. Tommy and I were accompanied by 6 children who joined us in showering which people do in their clothes, it wasn't as tranquil as we expected. Dinner tonight was more pig at Gormah's house, the intestines had been given to her dad and they had kindly offered to cook it for the 5 of us. Warm racksi was served to us, it had been freshly made, the intestines were fried with spices. Luckily there wasn't much light to see our food but Vay did shine the torch and it looked very green. We had to trek back through the forest with our headlamps to the house with an overload of pig in our bellies.
Sunday 22nd July
Probesh, Vay and Kedrin headed to Domouli for the day, Tommy and I started our first plan - build steps up the mud path that leads to the house. The sun was shining and we dug out around 10 steps, lay the stones and used the slippery reddish mud forced into the gaps for support. We were determined to finish before the others got back which we managed to do, Tommy also realigned the wall for the pigs pen, so a productive day! Krishna's parents were feeding us tonight, the walk up was interesting in itself, we crossed rice fields, past a pond with hundreds of frogs relaxing in the water 'spread-eagled' and were greeted by a pot bellied saddleback pig squealing. The family was large but seemed relatively well off with lots of land with corn and rice fields, buffalos, the pig and a well kept large house. The roaming pig was caught and the family offered to slaughter it as we had done on Saturday, Probesh quickly jumped and said no. We feasted tonight on roasted pork, spiced potatoes with rotis and then dal baht. The racksi kept flowing and flowing with the old lady flirting with Probesh, she must have guzzled a whole bottle to herself! After a very lovely evening with kind lively people we crossed the rice fields and down the hill with a very tired Sheri with us!
Monday 23rd July
School today! We played games and sang songs in assembly after being introduced, the children are so welcoming and very sweet! They chose to sing Bob Marley - Don't worry and knew all the words. The school is one year and three months old it has 3 paid teachers and then relies on volunteers, there are 40 students and 4 classes A-D which are set on ability. Some students are below their actual grade due to previous government school teaching or lack of education, so the classes are mixed age groups. There are 5 potential classrooms but the huts are used mainly in monsoon to keep mud out of the house. The house also has a solar panel on the roof which works effectively when the electric shuts off. Tommy and I were not in the classroom today as we had asked if we could help with the rice fields. Probesh led us down to the fields in the sun, we tip toed on the edge of the fields to reach the next field that needed ploughing. I jumped straight in the mud and over to the buffalo and started to plough, the ladies in the top field shouted down to Probesh that I wasn't allowed to as I wasn't a man. I started copying the ladies slicing the grass around the fields and making mud banks whilst Tommy ploughed. The sun was beating down an baking us as well as warming up the water running into the fields. The river running next to the field provided a great cool down, Tommy decided to use mud as sun screen for the hours we were there. The ladies slicing job is far more demanding than controlling the buffalo and in that heat too - it is such a tough job luckily the villagers came to help.
At 3pm we were tired so left Probesh to it and headed back to the house, they had made a lovely egg fried rice for lunch and we were starving! Our stream shower was so refreshing and well deserved, Tommy and I cooked a ratatouille with spiced potatoes and rice which was really tasty! We finished off the racksi from the pig slaughter, we are becoming accustomed to the taste!!
Tuesday 24th July
The monsoon rained poured all night and most of the morning, if it is raining around 9am students don't normally come to school as the walk is to dangerous and slippery. We had planned to teach but only 4 students turned up. Tommy and I set to fix the pig enclosure as they escape numerous times a day, this was more difficult than expected as the nails bent, the hammer broke, we didn't have a drill but we managed to make the gate secure, I discovered if you tickled the pigs behind they lay down and wanted to be petted like a dog - it was hysterical! The pigs were held in for a good while but the hole in the wall that we had tried to reinforce wasn't good enough as the big black pig pushed the whole section down! Vay cooked a lovely Indian curry for tea with rotis we sat drinking racksi discussing prospects for the school and other worldly issues, it was a really pleasant evening.
Wednesday 25th July
The grunts and snuffles woke the house this morning despite the tree covering the hole they had pushed their way through and were searching for food. We packed our room, had a lovely fairwell assembly they chose to sing Leaving on a Jet Plane to us it was so sweet as we had only spent a few days with them at Maya Universe Academy. Due to the rain we trekked down to the nearest bus stop but had missed the jeep so with fellow locals we headed to Domouli by foot. Luckily the man we were following flagged a local bus down on the main road and we headed to Pokhara.