You thought I’d never get there, didn’t you? Oh, ye, of little faith! Now you can follow the final days of our Nepal trip of last December, just in time for us to leave for our next trip this coming November. I left you as we came down from Ami Yangri on December 3, 2015 and headed down the mountain to Tarkyegang on our way to the Melamchi River. You may remember that we spent the night halfway down the mountain on a lovely plateau with views of the summit and surrounding peaks.
Morning always started with milk tea or coffee at 6 AM. On this day we scrambled out of our tents in a hurry and left as fog swirled around us, obliterating our view.
As we approached town, people were hard at work repairing their homes, but sights like these are disheartening, nonetheless. I never got used to it.
We met up briefly with the staff of our former guesthouse before heading down the hill to the Melamchi River.
I continually wrestled with my own thoughts as I observed the attitude of the Nepalis in the face of their great losses. I doubt that I would be smiling, even a year later.
On the way down we walked past many collapsed stupas in peaceful pine forests.
By early afternoon we reached a temporary school in Nakota. The white Canada tent caught our eye. It served as a classroom right after the earthquake destroyed their large school farther down the mountain. Tin shack structures now house the school. Since the children had a much longer walk each day, some had to stay overnight during the week, returning home only on the weekends. Most of the teachers stayed at the school as well. Students at the South Whidbey Academy had raised money after the earthquake and asked us to distribute it to schools in need. This school was definitely off the beaten track and didn’t have the same access to aid. We gave the school director money from the students, and also from friends in the States, as well as some pens and pads. We enjoyed visiting the temporary classrooms and hearing the children sing and recite their lessons. They were quite enthusiastic and grateful for our unexpected contribution!
As the children ran out of school, headed home, we saw several we had photographed last year as they walked over the Melamchi River bridge in the early morning. As you can see, they were in a huge hurry, but waved at us.
Notice the heavy baskets some of the children carried.
The trail was steep going down the terraced fields, punctuated by homes, many now rubble. The former school looked reasonably OK from a distance but the walls and floors were cracked, some were fallen down or vulnerable to collapse, and it was on an unstable slope that could let go should the earth shake again.
As we approached the Melamchi River, the trail merged with the road. Landslides had now reduced this road, always a bit dicey under good circumstances, to a narrow track. All bus and jeep transportation to Upper Melamchi has been cut off.
We gingerly crossed the river on the narrow swaying footbridge to the Riverside Resort, where we stayed last year. Children at the school we had visited earlier far up the mountain scamper across this bridge with its missing planks every day on their way to their temporary school.
Early photos found on the internet just after the quake showed the Riverside Resort intact, and being used as a way station for taking tin roofing panels to Upper Melamchi for emergency shelter. Then, in aftershocks and another big quake four days after the major earthquake, it was severely damaged and became unsafe.
In his face and demeanor I could see the toll this catastrophe had taken on the owner, normally a jolly and outgoing man. In less than five minutes his entire life savings, which he had invested in building this resort, was lost. Only the kitchen was partially intact, with one section turned into a sleeping space. We were surprised to see that the huge rock still balanced precariously in the front area, and were told that it teetered back and forth, perilously, during the quake.
We slept outside on the lovely lawn and garden between the ruined guest house and the kitchen. After watching World Wide Wresting on their TV (an incongruous experience if there ever was one!) and drinking local rakshi (distilled millet liquor) we headed to bed to rest up for the next day’s steep climb, accompanied by the roar of the river.