Page 2 of Cathmandu Travel Blog Posts

Asia » India » Gujarat » Mehsana January 2nd 2018

Here I will try to describe a "typical day" at Child Haven in Gujarat. I thought I would write about it sooner, but it took some time to figure out what a typical day is because there always seemed to be something special that changed the normal schedule. Kids go to school Monday to Saturday. They wake up around 5:30, and in winter because it is cold (!), they don't exercise in the morning but they apparently do in thesummer. Then it's time for bathing until 6:30 when all the kids go to the dining hall and have a glass of soy milk produced on site with soy beans purchased from an external source. This ensures the kids have sufficient protein. Then it's time for homework until about 9ish, at least on the girls' side since ... read more
one of the schools
one of the rooms, girls side
the cooks busy making chapatis

Asia » India » Gujarat » Mehsana December 27th 2017

Do they celebrate Christmas in India? Well, in the Child Haven homes, all festivals are celebrated, whether they are religious or not. Already on Christmas Eve, we could feel some real excitement in the air, and in the morning, everyone was up even earlier than usual, despite the "cold" temperature (12 C). We had breakfast as usual but the dining hall was nicely decorated and the children all came to wish me a "Happy Merry Christmas". After breakfast, the children went to their rooms and they came out dressed in their loveliest clothes, kept for very special occasions. They looked beautiful, and very, very proud. I can't remember if I mentioned it, but I arrived here with only 2 sets of Indian dresses and pants, and it didn't take long that the staff here started giving ... read more
Our Christmas tree
Dining hall, decorated
With the boys, on Christmas day

Asia » India » Gujarat » Mehsana December 18th 2017

Where to start... There is so much to say about life in Meu! It is a little bit like magic. Life is extremely simple here, the schedule is mostly the same every day, and at first I really struggled with the pace. I felt like I had to be busy, doing things all the time and felt bad if I wasn't fully productive, useful. But I am adjusting now, to taking things as they come, to be OK with not always being active, to even take some time to myself when I need it, to not be very creative with activities with the children. I realized that even if I didn't do as much as other volunteers probably did, no one asked me to be someone else, no one criticized me, they take me as I ... read more
Spreading ghee (butter) on the rotlas
Everybody participates in the rotla making process
Professional rotla maker!

Asia » India » Gujarat » Mehsana December 13th 2017

"Sister!" This is what I hear a million times a day, and sometimes more! This is my new identity as I am settling into my new life in Gujarat, India. I am here for 3 months, volunteering for a truly amazing organization called Child Haven (please check their website, it is a fascinating story And with no language in common, or very, very limited English, "Sister" is not just a way to get my attention, it seems to start and end every sentence, is used alone, or in its longer versions "Sister come" or "Sister me come", or even just "Sister" with an intention to say something but no additional words coming out. Sister, Sister, Sister... Maybe they just like the sound of it... So here I am again, in this country that I fell ... read more
one of the beautiful children
they love selfies

Africa » South Africa » Western Cape » Noordhoek May 3rd 2017

This is my last day in South Africa (for now). Over the last few days, I ticked off some of the main touristy things to do around Cape Town: cycled to the Cape of Good Hope, which was a truly stunning ride along the coast and stopped to see the penguins on the way. The next day I cycled to the "City Bowl", where I stayed with nice people I had met at a cafe weeks before in Heidelberg. They had kindly given me their contact info and offered me to stay at their lovely cottage. We also had supper together: absolutely delicious, and a great evening. From their place, I could conveniently explore the city and go to the Waterfront and to Robben Island, where Mandela spent most of his sentence. The guides are ex-prisoners ... read more
happy (but smelly) cyclist at Cape of Good Hope
Bo-Kaas, a colourful neighbourhood in Cape Town
from Robben Island, with Table Top in the background

Africa » South Africa » Western Cape » Noordhoek April 27th 2017

Today, I cycled back to the place where I took off 5 weeks ago. It's only been 5 weeks, and it can't compare to what other cyclists have done, but I have no words to really say how much I enjoyed this adventure. Until the very last day, South Africa had more surprises and gifts to offer. After a bit of a lazy morning yesterday, enjoying Aubrey and Sarita's beautiful house while there was one thunder storm after the other, Sarita dropped me off "downtown" Stellenbosch and I had a lovely afternoon walking around this beautiful city, that has a huge student vibe, thanks to its University. Really interesting, with lots of nice cafes, a few bookstores, and of course many shops and wine tasting places. But even if the city was nice it was nothing ... read more

Africa » South Africa » Western Cape » Stellenbosch April 27th 2017

As I am writing this, it is pouring rain outside, and I mean pouring, a real nice thunderstorm, and I am very happy I am under a roof. And a very nice one! A cyclist that I had contacted when I was thinking about coming to South Africa invited me to stay with him and his wife, in Stellenbosch. I don't know if I have ever met anyone so enthusiastic about tour cycling, it is actually touching to listen to him talking about his experiences and how much he loves to travel on his bike. There is definitely something very addictive about bike touring and it's nice to meet other people who can fully understand why I like it too. As I left Robertson 2-3 days ago, I didn't expect the scenery to be all that ... read more
more beautiful landscape
nice sunny day
just before the Franschhoek Pass

Africa » South Africa » Western Cape » Robertson April 23rd 2017

It is starting to feel like the end of my bike trip is near. But I am still accumulating incredible memories and enjoying this trip immensely. After a night in Calitzdorp, under the stars in my hammock again, I left early after some of the other guests wished me safe travels. It was a beautiful morning, cool weather, thank God because I had a really long hill to climb. But I felt good that day and it went really well and of course going up usually means there will be some downhills eventually... Some of the people who had stayed at the same campsite as I did stopped when they passed me, offered me water, pepper spray, etc. It was fun to stop and chat for some time, I wasn't in a rush! And they were ... read more
Cat very proudly "riding" Stella
the famous route 62
cheese cake on the front rack

Africa » South Africa » Western Cape April 20th 2017

3 more days on the bike, but 3 easy days, which was good to recover from my 3 previous hard days. Even if they are short, easy days are often full of surprises, and chance meetings. It never seems to be boring. From De Rust, I arrived in Oudsthoorn at 8:15... It was flat and I hardly needed to eat again, but why not. I stopped at a nice cafe. Then I installed my tent and hammock at a fancy Backpackers. I had missed my hammock a little, so it was great to get it out again. Oudtshoorn is a city, but pretty easy going it seems, and I enjoyed walking around, chatting with locals, grocery shopping and they even had a used bookstore. I had initially planned to go to Prince Albert from De Rust ... read more
Warmbad? I'd say Warmgood!
ancient rock painting
riding along the Swartberg

Africa » South Africa » Western Cape » De Rust April 17th 2017

Three more days on the road. And three pretty long ones. My body is now asking for some rest. But every day is still full of amazing moments, chance meetings, great food and wonderful scenery. Today again, the landscape was stunning and I can't remember how many times I said "wow" out loud. From Jeffrey's Bay, it was my longest day so far. I was happy to start riding on Route 62, it sounded almost mythical. There were few villages on the way, but I stopped in Kareedouw at a coffee shop where some friendly locals asked me if what I was doing was safe. I laughed and told them this was their country, they should know if it is safe or not!!! I had a huge piece of cheese cake, which gave me fuel for ... read more
along the 62
start of the Uniondale Pass
Uniondale Pass

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