Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Kids and Leopards

Aama: 'Mother' This is the most esteemed matriarch of the Neupane family. She is a mother of 15 and has already out lived 8 of her children. Sitting here with her eldest son, I thought she looked most dignified. Although we could not speak directly to one another, I was honored by her presence and welcomed by her impeccably raised and generous family. Many, many thanks to Aama and to her family.
If you look to the left of Aama, you will see a rock. This is a pestle. The mortar is the stone beneath it. It is where Aama grinds her spices. We accidentally sat on the mortar, but we were forgiven.

After our meeting at the school, we were taken back to our host's home. Normally, I would offer to help in the kitchen, but in this case, I was exhausted and I allowed myself to be cared for. Uncle JR, an English teacher, and his wife worked on the dinner together. They picked spinach from their garden. At the edges of the garden were nettles which can be used for making cloth. We also saw marijuana weeds which grow all over Nepal.

We chatted and sipped milk tea while several people from the village stopped by. Aunts, uncles and cousins dropped in to say hello.

They had an out house with running water, it was cold, but you could still take a shower if you wanted. We met a young woman named Mary who was a doctor from Texas volunteering at the local hospital for a couple of months. She had come up the hill to the Neupane's home for a shower. Dr. Mary told us that the prevailing illnesses at the hospital were a mystery rash and parasitic dysentery. In Nepal, diarrhea is the leading cause of death for children under 5.

At the far end of the house was a stable for cows and goats.

The cow had just had a calf, so we had fresh milk for our tea and I was able to drink a cup of raw milk. I thought the cooked milk tasted a little sweeter.

Uncle JR's twelve year old son was home playing with the goat. My other adopted Nephew, Atit, came up from another school a few miles away. He has barely graduated from high school himself, but he is already teaching.

Our first course was boiled salted potatoes. We peeled them with our fingers and ate about 4 potatoes each.

JR's wife did a tremendous job of feeding so many guests. She spent a long time carefully picking through and cleaning the rice. We sampled a rice wine made by a neighbor, and we had stewed spinach. She made spicy potatoes with home made butter out of the left over potatoes from earlier. There were even a few cubes of spiced goat meat for everyone.

After dinner JR played the drum for us and sang. Belief and his cousin danced and we were well entertained until we could barely hold our heads up any longer.

Before we turned in, JR carried the kids (baby goats) and the calf inside a storage room, put them under baskets and barred the door. This was to keep the leopards from eating them at night. Apparently the leopards usually leave the larger animals alone. I made certain that the bar was down on our door before we turned out our lights and climbed into our sleeping bags, just in case.


  1. Love this post. You really have made Nepal come alive with this series, Butternut. I say, when is the book of these journeys going to hit the shelves??!

  2. Yikes!

    How wonderful. I am so loving these posts, so envious (in a good way). What an amazing life.

  3. butternut these words are so alive and rich. it's so wonderful that the events are so simple. potatoes peeled and eaten in your fingers - well really, with salt they're tremendously good aren't they!! i am so glad to come here and share your lovely blessed life!!! steven

  4. This was so facinating, and such a good way to share (us) and remember (you). The Aama did look like a person of great respect. I would love to meet her. (how big are those potatoes?)

  5. I forgot to tell you how much i enjoy your jewelry blog, it's fun to see a new piece each day, everything is so beautiful. my birthday is coming soon and i'm hoping to treat myself.

  6. Trish, I'm working on it while running the business and raising the family...might take a while. Thanks for the support.

    Hi Ellen, Yep. We saw the leopard poop when we hiked out the next day. Very hairy! I mean the poop is hairy. They eat a lot of small rodents.

    Hi Steven, it was simple. And it was absolutely lovely. It felt like coming home.

    Lori Ann, they were sizeable potatos. I would guess about 6-8 ounces. We were very hungry from hiking and we weren't sure if there would be anything else for dinner, so we ate everything we were offered. The potatos were excellent. Just like eating potato chips but healthier. Yum.

  7. What beautiful and amazing people. I'm so glad you are sharing your experiences. On our dairy farm we consumed a lot of raw milk and potatoes but we never had to worry about leopards. Wow.

  8. What a great journey and lovely to meet so many nice people who live a great life I can feel a sense of togetherness which is missing here