The last 36 hours have been total sensory overload. Things are so different here, and I feel like I've landed on another planet. The people are so friendly. Although the electricity in the dity is cut for 16 hours a day, and you never seem to know when you will have hot water or reliable lighting. They do have a lot of solar panels for back-up, but usually use candles in the night when there's no power. Tomorrow, I will move in with a host family on the NE side of Kathmandu, and start working in an orphanage there. I hope to learn some Nepali recipes from my host mom. There is also another girl from NY who is already there and doing the same thing.
Yesterday, I went for a walk around the touristy area, Thamel. It seems like you can find everything here, but the streets are super windy and crowded. In the morning, I had a lesson in Nepali culture. The caste system from Hinduism is officially outlawed, but it seems to underly a lot of things here. And arranged marriages were the norm until this generation. Still are in the countryside. Killing a cow here merits a two year prison sentence, so they wander the streets and eat from the garbage piles. There are stray dogs everywhere and they are really cute, but really docile.
In the afternoon, some people from Hope and Home took me and a French volunteer out sight-seeing. First, a Buddhist temple and the biggest stupa in the city. It was the full moon, so many people were there walking aroujnd the stupa and praying. (Always walk clockwise). There were prayer flags hung all over it, which gave a very colorful hue to the scene. Second, a Hindu temple. We could go into the temple itself, but walked all around the complex. They were doing cremations by the bank of a little river, and then the ashes were washed into the stream. Monkeys were everywhere and seemed to own the place. It was a really huge complex and there were a lot of people out here too.
For dinner, we were taken to a traditional Nepalese place with dancing. The food was amazing and the atmosphere really nice. I love the food here: curries, lentils, veggies, and yogurt. And they make their tea with milk instead of water. Mmmm.
Today, I have a fast Nepalese lesson and more sight-seeing to the monkey temple, which supposedly has a lot more monkeys. Best wishes to everyone back home! I miss you