The flight to China was 12 hrs. Oof! Two hour layover is adequate to make our connection to Kathmandu. Another 4.5 hrs and we are done with plane for a bit. We collect our bags and clear customs. Our fearless leader Ravi meets us with Drs. Willow, Jeff and Randy.
Problem. All the glasses have been sequestered by customs. Ravi has in hand a stack of papers authorizing their importation but somehow they need one more paper. Been here before. Situation normal. But still a drag. After squaring awsy the 20 odd cases of 10000 glasses we have to go to some govt ministry to get our Nepal eye Dr licences.
5 hours later we escape from the airport with all our spex. But it’s 5pm and tomorrow will have to do for the licences.
I think it was a pissing contest. The customs guy probably gets tired of various officials asking for an “exception” for one of their good buddy’s imported whatever. You’d think they would be more sympathetic for stuff to be donated to the poor, but maybe it’s not that simple. Anyway Ravi got it handled. Shows you the value of support on site from a well connected citizen of the country in question. Priceless.
We head off to the hotel in a couple of large vans. Kathmandu is a teeming mass of very colorful people. And lots of them. Motorcycles everywhere. Which is interesting as I have not noted many motorcycles since Rarotonga. We find our hotel down some unlikely alley and it’s dinner thirty. Sleeping in a bed is kinda novel!
Ok time to get up. It’s 5am! Time to catch another plane. We take a bus through streets that are mildly less crazy than they were yesterday afternoon. Visability at ground level is poor. Kathmandu is a dust bowl. Maybe not always but after their recent earthquake there is rubble everywhere. And reconstruction too. I think there are two seasons here. Dusty, and rainy.
This plane takes all of us on a fly by of the Himalayas to include Mt Everest. We rotate through the cockpit to get photos through the nicer optics of the windshield.
Looking down through the gaps in the cloud ceiling I note that there is a fair frequency of buildings present on the ridgelines. Truth is elusive but me speculating, much more common. The sides of the hills are steep. Maybe the ridge line was as close as it gets to Flatbush ground? Plains at bottom are already taken. Who knows. It’s another planet.
Somehow this experience has made me hungry…
After breakfast we head over to Immigration ministry. They are supposed to give us eye Dr licences remember? So it gets complicated. We all got tourist visas. Dr licences in Nepal converts your visa to working visa. Possible conflict on exit. Our passports say tourist. Their records say working. Start over.
Ravi and Co will work that without us. We will try to catch up with the Vosh folks on the tour. Monkey Temple here we come.
Pretty cool Monkey Temple. If you like Big Golden Buddhas! Then we caught up with the rest of the team and toured some more. There is a spot on the river (which drains into the Ganges, Big Deal locally) where people have been coming to burn their dear departeds for a thousand years. Nice riverside burning platforms. Nice temples adjacent. Multiple cremations in progress. People throwing their empty plastic bottles into the sacred river. Quite the multi faceted scene.
We visited otheir temples. Kathmandu valley was once 5 kingdoms. Then only one. Now is aspiring to be a democracy. Our tour guide gave us some background on this. Sounds like democracy here is challenged by a poorly educated electorate. Must be contageous.
We get up for 7am breakfast. Depart Kathmandu at 8. Estimated 10 hour drive to Gaur turns into 12. But what a ride! We head south and cross one pass at 6500 ft and another at 8000. That road has Many switchbacks. But everyone survived and we arrived in Gaur in time for dinner.
Our bus driver stuffed our bus down a tight alley. He had an assistant all along on this trip. He whistled to the driver in tight spots. Different whistles. One meant go. One stop. Another go R. Another go L. Probably more. A whole language of whistle talking. Pretty interesting to watch them work together. And then we slept like stones.
Up for bkfst at 7am. We depart in our bus at 8am. Arrive at work site 830 and set about distributing our kit. Room 1 for registration. 2 for acuities and history. 3 for pathology. 4 for refractive assessment. 5 is dispensary for Rx glasses. 6 is for reading glasses and sunglasses. We are working out of a school and have room for all this. Sort it out and get to work.
We see 185 people day 1. A light load but still pretty good. We started late and the crowd thinned out as celebrations of the Diwali festival got going.
That night we dined at the hotel then took a walk around town. Dodgy that. Lots of things exploding. Fireworks are a significant part of Diwali party. As far as I know nobody lost an eye…
Same formula today. We roll thru about 100 patients then we are out of patients. It picked up again later but we should have munched lunch in the gap. Hindsight.
We are done by 430 and head back to the hotel. Let’s talk about that. Nicest hotel in Guar for sure. Just the same, power outages are pretty common. There is no hot water. But there is no cold either. Just Luke. And as much as you like. 🙂 The building is tired you could say. We may be the only guests. The staff here is very helpful and very nice. As I write this I am finding the bugs unfortunately drawn to the light of my phone screen. Who knows what kind if bugs they are. Seem friendly enough. Thankfully not very bite prone. I can deal with all this. It is the best in town and we should be happy with even less, as that is what most Guar residents get.
Dinner at the hotel again. Way better than the onion sandwiches served at lunch. (Seriously not kidding).