Out of bed at 6am, we have Surya's donuts and dhal bhat minus the rice and tea. After breakfast Surya shows us her visitor book and photo albums of previous homestay guests and volunteers. We jettison more things out of our packs in the pursuit of lightening Santo's load, if any one stays with Surya I hope you enjoy my Lonely Planet Nepal phrasebook. We are then formally given the tikka blessing (rice paste with fermented milk) on our foreheads, a rhododendron and a Khata scarf for good luck ("tashi delek") and a safe crossing over the pass. Santos is a reluctant recipient, I think he is a very shy boy.
Our trek today takes us to the village of Ghalegaun (2070m), the village has about 115 houses (I think) and is predominately Gurung. The village has maintained its rustic traditions and is mainly self sufficient. They have joined a village tourism project and 26 of the houses provide homestay.
We trek across forested area; there are a few blooming rhododendron trees, and cropped terraces. We pass small groups of homes and spot many people working in the fields. We scale another 2 mountains (hills) and arrive at Ghalegaun
after only a few hours. Our home for the night is equally as quaint as last night. The rooms, in fact, are much nicer than I had anticipated. This one has posters, plastic flowers and even a mirror (not necessarily a good thing at this stage- we are looking a bit bedraggled and detoxing I think from coffee/refined foods ie- looking very unattractive!). We meet our host, Kamala Ghale, and settle down to vege noodle soup and tea.
Hit the communal washing spot after lunch and wash some sweaty things out in frigidly cold water. We head out for a walk later to the school, it is deserted as it is a holiday. The classrooms are sparse but really clean and colourful. The view of the peaks here is to die for- Annapurna II , Ngadi Chuli, Lamjung Himal and Himalchuli. I guess the kids probably don't notice the view, it's like living near the Swan River at home- we don't really notice it much anymore either. From the school Dhana decides scaling steep precipes to get down to a "shortcut" is the order of the day. Sooooo glad I am in my flimsy crocs not my boots- not!
The sun is heading down and so is the temperature- we head back to Kamala Ghale's house. Quick game of scrabble is started in the courtyard (with tea)- Mary appears to be a closet scrabble champion, we finish up, the temperature is about 5 degrees C.
Our host, Kamala Ghale is a young widow. Her husband died of a "heart attack" 3 years ago- he was also young. She has 2 daughters; the eldest lives with her sister in Kathmandu and the 6 year old is with her. Her father in law lives with her as well (her M-I-L has recently died), he spends much of the time shouting at anyone and everyone (he is stone deaf). We share dinner with the small family sitting on the floor around the fire in the kitchen. We are served first, then Dhana and Santos, then her F-I-L and daughter and when we are all finished she eats. Dinner is great, same as last night but different. Kamala Ghale uses her woodfire stove for everything, she re-starts the fire from time to time with a hollow tube she blows into.
One of F-I-L's friends drop by and they share some hot
rakshi (locally fermented millet spirit), one of her friends drops by and all the while her daughter is doing her homework in the dim light. This feels good.
We have an early night, in the middle of the village, surrounded by the noises of the village. Awesome.
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