11 Sep

Okay, time to strip back the sarcasm and inject some cold, hard, raw truth.  I’m having serious trouble coming to terms with the fact that I moved to a ghetto.  Literally — from one of the richest zip codes in the world to one of the poorest.

The total newness, and accompanying adrenaline rush, of the start of the Big Trip and the first touristy glimpses of Kathmandu are wearing off.  I’m left totally exhausted, possibly sick, completely overwhelmed, and wondering… can I really live here for 5 months?

Much like I did with my more general Big Trip fears, I’ve categorized my concerns in an attempt to make them seem more manageable:

  1. It is dirty.  Like, really dirty.  It’s the culture to go barefoot in residences and at the NGO office, even though the floor is gross.  I’m getting used to my feet being black.  What about warts?  Foot fungi?  Parasites?  Who knows.  I also wash laundry in the sink, which thus far has only made it dirtier.
  2. Living amidst of poverty is unnerving.  Nepal is one of the poorest, most impoverished countries in the world.  Living in the middle of destitution is a profound and disquieting experience.
  3. The pollution is physically uncomfortable.  It brings a killer sore throat (regardless of whether you wear a face mask) and black boogers that plug up your nose.
  4. Everything here is hard.  Electricity is out for 8 hours a day (and that will increase to 18 hours a day in the winter).  I’m supposed to shower with cold water from a hose by my toilet.  It’s beyond rustic.  It’s like camping — without the fresh air, of course.
  5. The animals here aren’t warm and cuddly.  Some lizards live in my bedroom (most commonly spotted in my dresser).  They eat the spiders and gosh knows what else.  And there’s already been enough talk of the stray, possibly rabid, dogs that roam, and sometimes terrorize, the streets.
  6. The sense of isolation is palpable.   I go the whole day without seeing another white person/foreigner, bar Rosie and another guy at the NGO.  It is panic-inducing to consider the possibilities if something bad should befall me.  Searching for the familiar, the internet even fails me.  Slow as molasses, watching a YouTube video here is but a dream.
  7. The country of Nepal is f****d.  It is essentially a failed state.  There is utter chaos, lawlessness, senselessness, and blatant corruption.  My first day of work today at the NGO (which works to fight child trafficking in Nepal) went well, but it’s hard to be optimistic in this place where problems are so endemic, entrenched, and enormous.

In sum, I reckon, this place is impossibly foreign, dirty, smelly, strange, and scary.  Far from the lap of luxury I left.

Can I do this?  Really?  I honestly don’t know.

So I’m doing what I’ve done before, which is: find the expiration date on a milk carton and tell myself, screw 5 months; can you make it until this milk goes sour?  [Only people don’t really drink milk here, and there sure as heck aren’t such things as expiration dates so I’m speaking metaphorically here.]

And so tomorrow, I’ll get up, put on my dirty-ass clothes, slather on insect repellent and sunscreen, stuff toilet paper in my backpack in case I get the craps, sterilize a bottle of water, put on my face mask, pop some Advil and a throat lozenge into my mouth, pick up my umbrella and/or my trekking stick to fight off the dogs, and count out 15 rupees (17 cents) for tuk tuk fare.  And then I will hike out to the main road, and I will get on a tuk tuk and I will go to work at the NGO.

Filling up water jugs.

Walking through old Kathmandu.

Buddhist temple; also revered by Hindus. The eyes represent Wisdom and Compassion.

On Facebook last night, ex-co-worker Bert posted this picture, which my internet connection was miraculously able to load:

Feeling dejected as I penned this blog post, I commented: “This is how I feel right now :-(.”  Bert’s near-immediate response gave hope to this battered soul:

“Don’t worry, they have tunnels for the salmon… I’m sure you’ll find your tunnel soon”

9 Responses to “Overwhelmed”

  1. Aunt Les September 11, 2012 at 7:59 am #

    It’s a far cry from sitting on the clifton couch and drinking wine. Hang in there, you are stronger than you think. love ya

  2. hjeffreys September 11, 2012 at 9:06 am #

    I agree with Aunt Les; you are stronger than you think. You are doing a good and noble thing working for the children! Never forget that. Your motives are pure, and you will be taken care of because of that (even though that may not equate to creature comforts or even clean living conditions). We are here pulling for you and praying for you 🙂 Godspeed, Lucie!

  3. Bill September 11, 2012 at 10:44 am #

    My niece spent a year in rural Mozambique recently. It was shocking at first but worth it.

  4. Ginger On Tuesdays September 11, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

    Chica! Do you think I should forward this to our “favorite” judge to see whether she thinks you are engaging in the misuse of hyperbole again? No, no, no. You are doing very important work. Stay focused and stay healthy. You can do this. Really!

  5. lexilaa September 11, 2012 at 6:22 pm #

    Adding to the words of encouragement here — I know you can do it! I also think it’s awesome that you’re being honest with the reality of how difficult it is. I think you’re amazing – just keep doing what you’re doing 🙂 -Alex

  6. Judith Sklar September 12, 2012 at 12:37 am #

    Your hair is turning. reddish. You are doing G_ds work. You’re in the real world & it is preparing you to make the courtroom and the legal world more relevant and just. Hang in there.

  7. Edna September 12, 2012 at 3:32 pm #

    I admire you for being able to admit your fears and knowing where your limits are. Bon courage, as they say here in France, and I hope you find your tunnel soon!


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