After a long and bumpy ride from Kathmandu, we finally arrived in Chanauti village.
It has rained a lot since I’ve been here, which is apparently not common at this time of year, but presumably is good for the farms. The village is surrounded by lush farms and groves of banana trees. There are bananas growing so close that I can practically reach out and pick them from the roof of the clinic.
The village is arranged along both sides of the Melamchi River. There is a road bridge where cars pass over at the bottom of the village, and farther up there is a metal suspension bridge for foot traffic. So a tour around the village involves crossing both these bridges to make a full circle. The hills, covered with terraced farms, rise steeply from the road on both sides.
Bonnie, the current volunteer, has been my guide since I arrived in Nepal, showing me around Kathmandu, and then introducing me to the village. Having her spend so much time with me has been very helpful for easing the transition. She took me around the village and introduced me to everybody as “new doctor, Doctor Jenny”.
The tour ended with a joyous reunion between Bonnie and her dog Kali, (who had been cared for by ‘papa’ Boudhinam while Bonnie was in Kathmandu).
Across the river from the clinic is Devi’s tea shop, where we stop for snack of spicy chickpeas and potatoes and a cup of milk tea with Boudhinam, who is the translator at the clinic and a group of his and Bonnie’s friends. Devi, the shop owner, immediately pronounced as all to be ‘great friends’ (raamro sati). It is a source of mild amusement that I request my tea to be made ‘chini chhaino’ or ‘without sugar’ – although they are used to Americans preferring no sugar tea, they still think it’s a pretty strange way to drink it. As one fellow joked ‘maybe some salt instead?’
Back to the clinic to rest and unpack. I met Anil, the pharmacist, who lives with his family in another village, but spends several days a week in Chanauti. He cooked dinner, which was, of course, dhal bhaat, standard Nepali fare – a huge mound of rice, spicy dal, curried vegetables, and a side pickle. This is one of my favorite things to eat. Living on this every day sounds great to me.
The rest of the clinic community I will meet later on. Beena, the health assistant, is away from the clinic for a few days. The ambulance driver lives across the hall from us, and I met his two children, sprightly energetic youngsters who paused for a polite “Namaste” with folded hands before returning to their revelry.
So that was my warm Chanauti welcome.