“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” — Aldous Huxley

For the first time in my life I’m getting a noticeable tan.  For the first time in my life I am a minority.  For the first time in my life, for the first time in my life, for the first time in my life.  I am purely proud of myself.

As I may have mentioned before, it was hard to get a well wish prior to my departure, teeth-pulling hard.  I imagine my doubters and fellow confused individuals in-taking all of what I’d say when asked my plans for the summer.  They would hear me in slow motion: “I’m gooooooiiiiiinnnnnngggggg to–”  And just at that moment they’d think the next words to be “London, Paris, Rome.”  I’ve been to each of these places and I think them to be awesome; I’ve got no beef about Western European cities whatsoever.  It’s just that as soon as I’d say “Nepal.”  The looks would start.  A lot of the time, someone would not know what or where it was.  Other times, though, I’d receive looks of concernment.  Many feared for my safety, which was wonderful and great, but it was only a select few who, even if they didn’t get it, were in support.  Those were the people who would say: “Wow,” “Good luck,” “How exciting.”  That was always the best to hear.

Today, for the first time, I am feeling really happy here.  Maybe it’s that I’m stating to recognize places.  My cab driver today said to me, “You live here?” And I paused, smiled, and responded, “Yeah.”  The volunteer experience works better than any travel experience I could imagine, particularly in this part of the world.  The next time I set foot in Kathmandu, I’ll know where to go, where to eat, what to buy, even how to haggle perhaps.  There is something really wonderful about living in another country, even for just a month.  Yes, a hotel is great, so is a cruise ship, sometimes a hostel can even be not so terrifying, but the experience of being in a house, with a front door and a keyhole, a kitchen where family-style dinners are served, and a bed, even if it is rock-like, on which to lay down, try to sleep through the dogs and roosters having their nightly fiesta and keg-stand or whatever it is they do, then wake up in a place that becomes familiar only after a few days.

So, for as much as I may have wanted my mommy on day 1, truthfully, I love it here, even sometimes when I’m sweating.

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