strong quadriceps and hamstrings needed in Nepal – of course!

By Kate Stefanko. Filed in Uncategorized, volunteer stories  |  
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I’ve just been reading an article on the “Journeywoman” website: ‘Toilet Tips – What Every Woman Traveller Should Know’ …



yes, there are plenty of eminently sensible suggestions and advice … but the article also made me chuckle,  recalling recent email conversations among several over-60’s women volunteers.

Here’s a synopsis of the conversation between Sharon, who will be leaving for Nepal in just a few days, and three recently returned volunteers. (names have been changed to protect the ladies’ modesty!)

Hello all
Nadine, Elizabeth, Lynne – did you get the bus from Kathmandu?  Could you remind me of the length of the trip and how many stops there are on the way? (crucial information!)  I really want to take the bus trip.
Sharon

Hi Sharon
I really enjoyed our 6 hour bus ride. By Nepali standards it is quite a comfortable trip with bottles of water provided. You will be taken to the bus station early in the morning – all seats are booked so no sitting on the roof! There is a toilet and snacks break mid morning and then you stop in a very pleasant place for lunch (included in the price of the ticket). There is another toilet break and you arrive about 4 in the afternoon where you will be met. You will be sent information about where to get off the bus – so all quite straightforward. Have a wonderful trip
Lynne

Thank you Lynne – that sounds very comfortable and reassuring; I am really looking forward to it now.
Sharon

Good Morning Sharon
Just opened your mail and have the opportunity to reply straight away. Yes, we all travelled from Kathmandu by bus – the views of the river bed are spectacular and I remember a really euphoric moment that took my breath away on the journey.   Your question about loo stops brought a smile to my face because it was my first experience of a squat loo.   I had quite a substantial backpack which I didn’t fancy putting on the floor, so I was VERY grateful to have strengthened my thigh muscles! Using a squat loo that is in a very small area, with a backpack, takes skill!    The loos were reasonably clean with wash basins, and I made good use of my hand gel.
Don’t worry, the bus stops 3 or 4 times for ‘comfort breaks’ at cafes, with a longer lunch break.  I was wary of the curry here and it was quite hot!
Your guide in Kathmandu will get your ticket for you, and tell the driver where you are going … The drivers are used to that stop and there will be no problem.  I think my bus left Kathmandu at about 8am and I arrived at about 3.30.
People and Places give so much backing and that is probably why we don’t feel too apprehensive before our projects.   I was the same as you – expecting to be a little worried, but the journey should be exciting and plain sailing!
Look forward to your next mail
Nadine

Nadine – thigh muscles! that may be the best piece of advice yet!  I had anticipated squat loos but not considered the back pack issue.  Now after your vivid description I will certainly get on to that.  Both you and Lynne have been very reassuring about the bus ride and I am looking forward to it.
Sharon

Nothing much to add to all that’s gone before really … loo stops worried me a bit too, but the bus journey is well organised and you’ll enjoy it. Strong thigh muscles are also useful for walking back up the hill at the end of the school day, so keep practising!
Elizabeth

So Kate just HAD to point out that the prize for fortitude (and thighs!) so far goes to volunteers in rural Nepal who have used ‘squat loos’ for weeks, rather than hours … I wonder what the prize should be …?

And this just in from Sharon: I expect conversations will become more bizarre as my trip progresses – I fully intend to keep in touch with my predecessors back home. Needless to say, we’re all looking forward to the next emails!

And for those of you who would like yet more helpful advice about squat loos, take a look at this site.

We could probably produce a book (well, a very thick leaflet anyway) of the communications between these volunteers – not just about the loos and the bus ride, of course, but also about their work in the project and the continuity from one volunteer to the next … ‘passing the baton’ as we are so fond of repeating!

Watch this space for the next instalments of ‘Tales of Nepal’ …

2 Comments

  1. Comment by npegler1:

    Well I seen some good advice from people and places but the link to “how to use a squat toilet” takes the biscuit!!!

  2. Comment by Sallie:

    Just had to post this email from one of the ladies who have been discussing the loo facilities – just to put you in the picture it is the new year in the Nepali calander

    “Happy New Year to you all but I confess I am mystified by the year. Is it really 2069? What have I missed? I feel like Rip Van Winkle… but I am certainly up for a party.
    Kate I like your thigh muscles dialogue (and am indeed working on it). I think there may be more conversations to come along similar lines. You have already missed the conversations about what happens to the colour of one’s underwear in Nepal and the practice of yak jackets in bed. Not to mention E’s graphic tips on using the loo at the school. (I think L’s advice was ‘Don’t’.)
    But we do also discuss educational topics.

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