Happy Thanksgiving from Nepal

Well we landed in Pokhara, Nepal on Thanksgiving day and It’s working out pretty well, there is no cranberry sauce and no pumpkin pie and our families are well, far away seems like an understatement; however thankful we are and shall be. It took us 17 hours to get here from India by bus, and not to scare our mothers but after that ride we truly are thankful just to be alive.

This is personally my third time in a foreign country for Thanksgiving and it has never been easy, especially since it is my favorite holiday. Yet to be honest there is something about being away that causes my heart to feel even more gratitude for our family. Here in a place so far removed from my culture and reality I can see and know how much of who I am is directly connected to who my family is, and in this moment nothing could fill me with more gratitude than that.

Sometimes when we are surrounded with our own we can tend to be more critical, and this may be beneficial, it may not be, however, when we are removed from our own we realize how critical family truly is.

So Dear Family,

Thank you, without you we truly are nothing. We love and miss you so much and we are so grateful to be yours,

Kris and Mel

In the same breath I would be lying if I didn’t say that I am so thankful to celebrating Thanksgiving with the best friends and travel companions one could ask for, we truly have become family on this trip, and I am thankful for that.  Pokhara will be providing us with a roasted chicken, mashed potatoes and apple pie finished with a glass of wine. For any who have traveled in Nepal or India you know how amazing that sounds. I can’t wait. So from the foot of the Himalayas HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

P.s. here are some left over Pics from our time in Darjeeling and

Dive into some chai.

Sikkim. More reasons why we are filled with gratitude.

Mel's Birthday Cottage

Monastery Trek

a 93 year old sikkimese woman.

Third highest peak in the world.

Darjeeling Tea

Just the four of us.

Well we made it to the mountains and the tea fields, and it is beautiful and cold, which is perfect.  We are headed to Nepal on Monday and we’re going to do the Annapurna circuit, a trek that reaches up to 17,000 feet. Yes I know don’t tell me, we are a little crazy, however we’re going and we’re determined. It should take anywhere from 14 to 21 days depending on how many side trips we decide to do. We will be staying in guest houses that stretch across the country side. We head first to Pokhara to gear up, we should arrive monday night or tuesday morning. After Nepal we are uncertain of where our time should take us. We will fly into Bangkok from Katmandu and then we are debating whether to head to Indonesia or Northern Thailand and Laos. We want to make the most of our time and if God has anything for us we want to be sensitive to that so pray that we would have some direction if we need it.

Other than that things are going pretty well, we have been redefining some of our group dynamics,  mostly we want to get the most out of all of our relationships together as we travel. Sometimes I think expectations can be higher when traveling but maybe not realistic. Our time in Northern India has been symbolic of that, we have been surrounded by the highest mountains in the world for over a week now and today was the first time the fog cleared enough to see them, the moments of splendor are always few no matter where or what your doing. I think this translates to our community as well, whether its family, church, friends or traveling companions. It is good though, it keeps us looking…..more pictures coming.

“A Country of Contrast”

Hello from the country of contrast, the country of color and the country of pollution, the country of incense and urine, tigers and bedbugs, curry and parasites, of unprecedented friendliness and unbelievable disdain. We greet you from a place we love so much and hate so much, we want to leave, we want to stay forever.  Hello from India.

Flower Market

I am writing on our last day in Calcutta and in a way our last day in proper India, for tonight we leave for Sikkim a state that doesn’t consider itself a part of India. We have spent the last week volunteering at the sisters of charity, a service to the poor of Calcutta that fits right into the rest of our experience in India, we loved to volunteer there and the people were amazing, while other parts of it left us confused and baffled wondering how to respond. We also connected with a friend from Flagstaff that works with IJM (international justice mission, working to end slavery) an organization that we have been sincerely interested in for a long time as they fight for prevention at the very core of society issues and work to change laws and enforce laws that are ignored. It was really good to talk about Flagstaff and see how the organization looks in the field. Our time has been very well spent, however I will say that I am ready to leave especially as we head to the mountains. Eric and Michael set out a couple days earlier and kind of did some trailblazing. Before we meet up with them we’re going celebrate Mel’s birthday early by spending two nights at an all inclusive organic farm called Yangsum, we are very excited.

The godess "Kali" she defeats evil though consumtion.

We had a great treat here in Calcutta as we were here for the festival of Diwali and for a whole week the city shut down to party. It is a holiday equivilant in magnitude to Christmas. Lights covered the city and Fireworks shot off until 2 in the morning every night. The festival celebrates the annual return of Kali who literally consumes evil. Dancing and Music abound. The contrast lies in that “Kali” is a bloodthirsty deity who’s image is found on every corner covered in blood ( not real blood, though blood letting is a form of worship for the devout).

 

outside our guest house, Kolkata

Varanasi ally

 

 

 

 

India has been an unforgettable experience  as there is no other place in the world that shows the pollution and the color of our lives so vividly in the same moment.

 

 

 

The holy saddhu gazing over the polluted Ganges

 

Our Unicorn 10-29-2010

Since the lost city we have been on the hunt for our unicorn: the Bengal Tiger. We first visited Kanha national park and though the jungle was astounding with peacocks, monkeys, parakeets and deer there was no Tiger. We made our way to Bandhavgarh, a park that was guaranteed to see Tigers. We arrived to find the zone of the park with tigers to be booked out for weeks. Eric and I set out for lunch disappointed and Michael and Mel set out to walk away their pain. As Eric and I sat down to a delicious plate of coconut stuffed egg plant we saw Michael and Mel peel into the parking lot in a “gypsy” jeep, they quickly grabbed us from our incredible food without even letting us pay and threw us into the jeep. They had some how gotten us a VIP spot reserved for government officials and it started in five minutes. We arrived in the park with anticipation pumping our blood fast through our veins, the park was one of the most beautiful forests we had ever been in and we felt sure that a Tiger was coming. Yet the evening passed and no Tiger. Our last opportunity was this morning and we would be in a zone with few tigers ever seen. We awoke at 4 in the morning with little hope. The gypsy jeep picked us up and it was freezing, we get to the office to finish out our paper work (an infinite abyss in India that will be the end of the forest they protect) as we wait in the dark and cold Mel shows up and informs us that we got a VIP pass for the zone with the most sightings a second time! Hope began to warm our bodies as we set out. An hour later we sat in silence listening for the Langur’s warning calls of a nearby Tiger…. nothing , we drive towards a heard of deer and begin to take pictures out of boredom. In the distance we heard the scream of the same type of deer often made in the presence of a Tiger and our driver flew into action in seconds we were turned around and speeding through the jungle, we arrived in the plain and the herd of deer were all alert, across the plain a huge male Bengal Tiger casually crossed the field and everything stood at attention, eventually he made his way back into the forest leaving us stunned with excitement. A true Bengal Tiger walking in his forest with all authority the image will never leave my mind.  As we were recovering a jeep drove by and informed us that there were two cubs near the entrance of the park. The jeep again flew into action and stopped us right in front of two cubs resting on a rock, a male and female one year old yet still enormous. We couldn’t believe it, no one has seen three tigers in one day it is unheard of, yet there they were beautiful orange white and black against deep forest green. We got our unicorn…
This Photo was taken by our South  African friend Ben who joined us on the safari, because of a ranger dispute we only had a few moments with the tigers before we were rushed off. Ben captured the best shot possible for the situation.