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Juliana's Nepal Experience

I wake up around 6:30am each day. Living with little electricity has put me more in tune with the sun and I find I wake at this time easily and feeling refreshed. I wash my face and then come back to my room to sit for my morning meditation. I light some candles and sit for about 20 minutes. Afterwards, I reflect a bit in my journal about my intentions for the day and write down 3 things I'm grateful for. Feeling centered, I walk out of my room and head to the stoop at the front of the hospital to connect with friends and family back home and check some emails. It's the only place I can get internet, and I soak it up. A lot of times I will make myself some coffee and bring it out to my stoop and sit relishing in my caffeine and internet high. Once I've had my fix, I walk into the kitchen for breakfast and boil some hot water to take to the bathing area for my bath. I tried to do the Nepali cold shower but I am a weak American who likes warm water!

Breakfast in Chanaute is usually some boiled eggs or bananas, or both if I'm really hungry. Sometimes a neighbor will call me to their house for roti and curry or a milk tea. The milk teas are so delicious but the sugar in them sometimes makes me feel a little crazy so early in the morning. After breakfast, I bathe and get ready for the day.

I get down to the clinic around 9am and the patients begin rolling in. Mornings tend to be slower, so I'll see 3-4 on average before lunch time. I'll wait for a lull in my schedule, sometimes around 12pm but could be as late at2pm if there's lots of patients, to have lunch. Lunch is rice, lentils, curry and sometimes some yogurt for dessert. Nepali food is delicious and I eat up every bite of curry with enthusiasm. I'm less interested in the rice, and I usually have to argue every day with someone to keep giant piles of rice off my plate. At the end of the meal, I give a very enthusiastic "Mitosa!" to the woman who cooked that day. Mitosa means "delicious" and I mean it every time. We aren't supposed to say "thank you" in Nepali culture because it can embarrass them, so I always try to capture my gratitude in praise for how delicious their cooking is. Not being able to say thank you is like having an itch you can't scratch as an American, but I try my best to honor Nepali custom.

When I come down stairs from my 20 minute lunch, a line of patients is usually waiting. I greet everyone a smiling Namaste and quickly get to work. The patients usually slow by about 3pm and I'll see my last straggling patient by about 4pm and close my day by 4:30pm. Sometime in all of his hustle, someone will usually bring me an afternoon tea which I forget about until someone says "the tea is getting cold, drink!" I enjoy it either way but nepalis hate cold tea and want to make sure I get it hot.

After my day is over, I go upstairs to change into some more comfortable clothing and take some moments alone. Once I'm feeling some energy I go for a walk. I rarely make it for a full walk alone, as I'm invited by the kids to go on some adventure or another. Sometimes, we go to a corner store and order "pani puri," a snack made with a crispy hollow rice ball stuffed with potato and this vinegar chili sauce. (It's delicious.) Sometimes we go hunting for guavas, which usually involves me hitching one of the kids up on my shoulders as we reach for the ripe ones high up in the tree. Other times we go for a walk in the rice paddies and end up at somebody's house for milk tea. The source of the buffalo milk is usually hanging in the front of the house. One of the keys of living in Chanaute seems to be to always leave the hospital hungry, as somebody in town will always insist on feeding me. There are days where I get invited in by 3 different people for milk tea and I get home buzzing with a sugar high. I never have the resolve to turn them down because they are offered with such a generous heart.

In the evenings, one of the hospital nurses named Bina will cook for me. Her food is absolutely amazing and there are days where I literally throw my hands up in the air with complete joy with how delicious her food is. A lot of times lately we've been invited over to her friend Sita's house for dinner. Sita has two kids who have become my friends as well and they treat me like family. They are so sweet to me and make me feel very included in village life. By 8:30pm or 9 o'clock, Bina and I usually agree we are tired and ready to head home. I do my evening meditation or spend a little time reading a book, and my eyes begin to refuse to stay open shortly after. Village life is very social and between that and my day in the clinic, I'm ready to sleep by 9:30pm.

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