Having rushed to finish my previous post I thought I would press rewind a little and add a bit more detail to my first day…
Arriving at Fieldbase Khatmandu was like reaching sanctuary. A large three storey detached brick building it sits in its own grounds and benefits from a large avocado tree in the back garden. I was met by Penny our DOM deputy operations manager and introduced to the security guards! There was activity everywhere you looked. A mix of volunteer managers, host country managers, Raleigh staff members and others peppered the complex. Having been introduced to a dozen people, none of whom’s names I could immediately recall I was left to my own devices. I dumped my kit in the boys dorm on the top floor. It was full of bunk beds, mosquito nets, kit and people. I needed some space and went to explore the surrounding streets. Stepping back out onto the main road my senses were once again assaulted by the sights and sounds. Pedlars of every description lined the streets, make shift vehicles whizzed by in a constant cacophony of noise and near misses. I stumbled around Patan for a while and then the heavy rain began. I have never experienced rain quite like it. It came down in squash ball size droplets, the the heaviness and persistence of a fireman’s hose. Within seconds I was soaked to the skin, and shivering. Needing shelter I ran to a nearby fruit sellars stall and crowded under it along with a dozen locals. I looked around and realised I was at least a head height taller than everyone else. Hooray, I was tall, haroo, I was wet and cold!!
I knew with the colder months approaching I would need a cold weather jacket and possibly a rain coat. The shops around me did not give me much hope of finding any thing, there was the odd “The North Fake” jacket but little else. I knew the Thamel are had lots of genuine shops so hailing a taxi I set off. It was another hair raising journey but arrived in one piece and it only cost me 500 rupee. I made my way towards the shops in Thamel and saw some familiar brands, The North Face, Mountain Hardwear, Mamot etc. I found a jacket and t-shirt in the first shop I listed, paid and made my way back towards Thamel only realising halfway back that I had left my bank card in the North Face shop! Doing a quick about turn I pegged it back there and rather sheepishly asked if they had it, they did, phew!
I needed lunch so I paid 200 rupees to enter the local pleasure gardens where there was also a cafe. I enjoyed my first taste of Nepali Dal Bhat. Little did I quite understand what a staple this dish is in Nepal and I was soon to realise that they pretty much eat it for every meal! Following this relish respite I made my way back to Fieldbase where I met some of the other Volunteer Managers with whom I would be sharing this experience. We spent the evening getting to know each other and in the morning headed off to Baerini and the RIMS training centre.