I don’t think we appreciate how lucky we are living in a developed country. We take every day things like clean running water; electricity 24 hours a day; supermarkets selling everything under the sun; for granted. It is hard to believe in this day and age that many parts of the world don’t have these basic facilities. I was very privileged this Christmas to experience, first hand, traditional life in the Himalayas.
Can you imagine life without running water?
No taps that magically gush water. Can you imagine having to collect water from the local stream and carry it home.
Could you give up your washing machine?
Nothing is easy in this harsh environment. No running water, no washing machines, instead we had a 10 minute uphill walk to a stream where we hand washed our clothes in the icy Himalayan water before laying them on some bushes to dry.
What no bathroom?
I found this very surprising, but there was no toilet – not even an outside long drop. The locals just find a quiet spot and become one with nature. On my arrival I got to know the family very well as Gele’s niece took me to the loo. I was taken back, to have to coupie down (crouch for non-Wenglish speakers), behind the house, in-front of her. :oS
Gele was such a sweetie. The next day he made me my own personal bathroom. I would have happily made do, so I felt a right princess.
After 3 days of walking and no washing, I felt soooo dirty. I smelt like a tramp and I probably looked like one too. Gele’s sister-in-law kindly heated some water on the wood fire, so I could have a bowl of hot water to wash. It was too cold to hang around, so I quickly stripped off my top half, cleaned and dressed myself faster than a speeding bullet, before repeating the process for my bottom half.
Gele kindly helped me wash my hair. I was feeling so precious, if you ever met me “princess” and “precious” are definitely not words you would use to describe me!!!!
Gele’s family’s clothes and hair were pretty dirty (I do not mean to offend). However, due to the cold, I think I would adapt quickly and my cleanliness would quickly go downhill too.
Popping out to the corner shop is not possible here. Gele’s family are pretty self sufficient, growing most of their own vegetables and keeping some livestock. One night Loki cooked a chicken that was happily running around the yard an hour earlier, thank goodness I didn’t witness its death. I did see evidence of its blood on Loki’s jumper though – ew!!!
To go with the chicken we had home-grown rice, which took hours and hours to prepare. Can you imagine before cooking a bowl of rice having to dry it in the sun, sieve it, pound it to remove the husks, sieve it once more and then under torchlight (since there was no electricity) remove the stones – and that’s excluding all the painstaking time it had take to grow it in the first place.
Bl**dy hard work, give me a packet of Uncle Ben’s any day!!!
However, it was probably the best rice I have ever tasted.
The hard-work didn’t stop there, dinner was then cooked over an open wood fire. The kitchen was pretty basic, none of the mod cons that we are use to.
No cooker, no kettle, no fridge, no sink, no freezer!!!!
It is Nepali culture to give the best bed to the guest, so at bedtime I again felt like a princess. I had a huge bed all to myself, whilst all the men slept on the floor and Gele’s sister-in-law squeezed into a bed with all the children. Another fact that surprised me, men and women don’t sleep together, even if they are married!
There must be a lot of storks around here!!!
Life in the Himalayas is miles removed from my everyday reality. It was an amazing experience, but I know I won’t be giving up my daily hot shower or being able to turn on a light whenever I wanted, any day soon.