This is the ongoing post from 2 CNIB employees who are in Nepal, helping
children with vision loss, and telling us what is happening.
Nothing could have prepared us for the landing in Nepal –not even the startling drop in elevation, now we don't dare blame our wonder pilots with Korean Airlines, we choose to blame to Himalayas Mountains. As you will note in this blog there are no pictures of our arrival as planned. We forgot to take pictures due to our high stress level. We spend the last fifteen minutes of our descent worrying about what would happen if we didn't make it through customs with our 150 pounds of Braille printers, Braille paper and white canes. We had declared nothing on our customs declaration as we thought we will not be selling any of these items in Nepal. We rehearsed answers to any of the possible questions they could have asked us. Our game plan was not to tell them anything unless they asked- just smile and act pretty or stupid. The exit from the plane was by stairs on to the tarmac surrounded by other arriving planes-and there was an extremely unnecessary short bus ride to the main building (about 200 feet). We quickly found out that the rupees we had acquired at the currency exchange in Winnipeg were against the law to use in Nepal. Our passports were stamped with no problems and the next concern became finding our luggage and getting it through customs. We were waved through the door to the luggage belt by someone who appeared to be an airport staff. He loaded our luggage, and took our customs form and then asked for $20.00 American. He then handed the pink forms to the customs people and walked right past a huge line up of people (thinking back on it- it was probably customs). We are still not sure about the procedure but we had to check to make sure that we had actually made it through customs, and legally now in the country.
We had arranged to have the Hotel meet us at the airport, when we arrived Daya Ram (the principal) was waiting amongst the enormous crowd of people shouting and holding name signs. Daya Ram had taken the day off and arranged a friend to meet and drive us to the hotel but did not have enough room for our luggage. Our next challenge was… should we insult our wonderful greeter Daya Ram OR should we ride in the cramped hotel shuttle with our entire luggage. We took a chance and risked losing our luggage and not insulting our host. Our luggage did arrive at the hotel and so did we.
The trip to the hotel is an experience we will never forget due to the fact that it imprinted in our brains with a huge surge of adrenalin. We quickly found out that there are no traffic rules in Nepal. You can travel on any side of the road and in any direction. Apparently the trick is using your horn which nobody seems to respond to. The streets are full of Motorcycles, buses and taxis and pedestrians weaving in and out. The city buses were identified by license plate although many of them were lacking windows and doors. You exited the bus in the middle of the traffic. There were a few traffic lights but it looked like they may not have been working.
(Image of traffic- motorcycles amongst cars trying to fit through a small space-terrifying)
Daya Ram talked to us a little bit about the school and told us that the belief of the people in Nepal was that the blind children were not capable of learning before he started working with them. He said that people are starting to believe that they can do something with their lives.
We are off to the market.