Where do I begin. I've procrastinated writing this blog post for almost 3 months. When I returned home from Nepal I began to draft all these posts about what a wonderful time I had and all of the great things that happened. No sooner had I returned home Nepal was hit by the earthquake(s) that killed thousands, devastated families, and turned UNESCO world heritage sites (including the one where I lived) to dust.
How does one talk about Nepal now? How do I publish a blog on 'top 25 things you need for long-haul flights to Nepal' (which includes such essential things like facial moisturizer and mini humidifiers) and 'How I packed for three weeks in the himalayas in a carry-on" ? how do I talk about all the amazing things I experienced and did, while the Nepalese people- people with whom I shared meals, whose homes in which I stayed, whose language I feebly attempted to learn... when they have lost almost everything?
In the days that followed the earthquake I had floods of messages coming through that said "thank GOD you were not there?!" but it only fueled my anger that I WASN'T there. my first and most immediate thought was 'if only I was there. I could have maybe helped one person. I could have helped funnel a cash flow to people on the ground immediately. I could have helped dig. I should have helped dig"
here I am, another privileged white american... i'm here in my little house, safe and sound, back in my first world country. thank GOODNESS I left that third world country when I did. you know, before the disaster struck. I mean... I could have been injured you know. My camera could have been damaged. I could have been stuck there for weeks before aid came to evacuate me out of there. What would I have done? There wasn't even cell service to get on facebook and stuff.
I think my guilt stems from the fact that i was there. i took pictures- pictures of what i thought Nepal should look like (from a Western and Biased view). I thought how great it was a few companies offered to send me little luxurious things (like facial moisturizer, fancy sheepskin slippers for the cold nights, extra packing bags, etc) for a review I was writing on what to bring while traveling.
Traveling changes you... thats one of the things I value about it. It is supposed to bring you closer to other cultures and an added benefit of that is feeling more empathy and connection to that culture. It gives you a personal tie, it turns tourists into activists when a disaster strikes. But this time... this time is even more so. it's changed the way I look at necessities and luxuries- while traveling and while at home. It's held up a mirror for me- to see the way that any given local culture sees me as a tourist. it's even made me aware of how this post must sound "feel bad for me- the earthquake that devastated lives half-way across the world is making me feel really horrible while I live here in my cute little portland home."
but I do think it's important to talk about how amazing Nepal is... how it is so much more than the quakes. And though I'm waiting on my film to get back from the lab... I'm going to show you a little tiny taste of what Nepal meant to me while I was there for the month of March.
this was filmed entirely on my iPhone, and I am by no means a videographer, but some things need to be told in motion and sound. I pray that each person who happened to be filmed in this little video is alive and well and is beginning to rebuild their lives.