Saturday, August 28, 2010

My Glamorous Life on the Road

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself with a dilemma.  I had a show in Chesapeake, VA, and the following weekend in Atlanta, GA.  I live near Cleveland, Ohio.  That would mean traveling for four days, being home for two, and then away for another four or five.  More than that, I would be exhausted from all of the driving and useless for the two days at home.  Wayne and I decided that, rather than hire baby sitters for the duration of my absence, the boys might be old enough to travel with me.  They are now ages 7 and 12.  With a vague plan of inviting ourselves to stay at friends' houses somewhere in route from Chesapeake to Atlanta, we packed the van.  As an afterthought, I threw in some sleeping bags and a tent.

Day 1: Drive to Chesapeake.  The boys sang Jason Mraz tunes.  They are very good.  They also sang several raps that I'm not sure I approve of.  13 hours later, after some very bad traffic, we arrived.  I had the boys in bed by 11:30 pm. (The plan was 9 pm.)

Day 2:  Woke the boys up at 6:15 am.  They helped me load in and set up the show from 7:00-10:00am.  Underneath the table, we created a nest for the boys with computer games and DVDs. It was a new location for the bead show, unfamiliar to both buyers and sellers, and the show was slow.  The power gave out several times.  A customer's child joined my boys under the table for a couple of hours while his mother shopped.  We covered the tables at 5 pm and went for KFC.  In the evening, at our hotel, there were small children crying outside our door.  Then we heard criminals talking about smashing heads and beating people senseless and discussing all of their friends in prison.  They were having this conversation by shouting, one from the parking lot and the other up on the balcony in front of our room.  The kids wanted to call the police, but the men weren't actually doing anything, just talking trashy.  I decided not to confront them.  Too scary.  By 11:00 pm they left with their crying children to "get the kids some dinner."

Day 3:  We slept in until 8:30 am.  The boys played Roller Coaster Tycoon under the table and I did my best to sell beads and jewelry.  Sunday was twice as active as Saturday and still it was a money loser.  We had to pack everything out in the evening.  I promised to take the boys to the beach, so we drove to Virginia Beach at 6:30 pm and swam until after dark.  I left a big salty wet spot on the seat at the IHOP where we had our dinner.  On the way back to the hotel, we got lost and a policeman pulled me over for a broken head light.  He gave me directions but no fine.

Day 4: We fixed the headlight and drove to the Outer Banks.  Gorgeous!  We set up our tent and went swimming. Yeah!  Pizza for dinner, Whoo Hoo!  It was a great day.

Day 5: We got up and swam early then visited the tallest lighthouse in the US, Cape Hatteras Light House.
It was hot, but the scenery was breathtaking; so were the stairs.  That evening, I drove the boys up to Roanoke Island to see a production of "The Lost Colony," at an outdoor amphitheater.  It was absolutely fantastic, a very exciting and professional production.  We brushed teeth and climbed into our sleeping bags at 12:30 am.  (Bed time is going in the wrong direction.)

Day 6: More swimming. We showered and vacated the camp site by 12:00 pm.  Having not heard a reply from our friends who might have taken us in, we decided to go to Asheville, NC, on the way to Atlanta, GA, and see Biltmore.  North Carolina is a big state to cross!  We had a leisurely drive, but not too far after Raleigh, NC, I realized that we were not going to make it to Asheville by nightfall. We set up our tent at a private camp ground south of Raleigh and an hour later there were loud cracks of thunder and it started to pour.

Day 7: It was a loud rainy night but we stayed dry until about 8 am when I felt water trickling below me.    The kids helped me quickly roll the sleeping bags and we moved the entire tent to a shelter where we shook off the water and packed the tent.  We bathed and were were ready to go by 10 am.

Biltmore was incredible! We got the MP3 player tour and the boys listened to everything and were absolutely fascinated.  We stopped at the end of the day for ice cream on the grounds of Biltmore, where two young women tending the ice cream shop went online for us and got the directions to Sliding Rock.  We arrived at the Pisgah National Park campground in time to make a camp fire.  I had to use the inside of a roll of paper towels and a Cheerios box to get it going.

Day 8: We woke late about 9 am.  There were tons of kids at the camp ground.  The children borrowed inner tubes from the camp hostess and rode the creek downstream to the swimming hole over and over again for two hours.  Then we headed up to Sliding Rock and slid down the rock for another two hours.  Yes, I did it too.  We left directly from Sliding Rock for Atlanta, GA.

Day 9:  Up at 6:15 am again, the boys helped me load in and set up the show.  I bought them Internet access and a creative game called 'Spore,'  which kept them fully engaged the entire day.  The show was packed and sales were great.  We celebrated with other vendors at the Cho Won Korean Buffet.  The kids loved the octopus.  (Really.)

Day 10:  We got up late and missed the morning vendor meeting.  It was slower paced but still a very good day.  The kids played with other vendors' children and customers' children.  I had a lovely discussion with a woman who was going to a Dalai Lama seminar.  I told her how to present him with 'khata,' a scarf blessing.  It was a very good day until the very end when someone stole 3 of my pendants.  We did not catch the culprit.  We packed out by 7 pm and had to drive 3 hours toward home before we could sleep.

Day 11:  At breakfast, the boys got to meet two teenage mothers and their infants who were living at the Comfort Inn where we stopped.  Josh, age 12, said he didn't think they were very well educated because their speech and manners could have used some improvement. Hmmm.  I think my boys may have learned a great deal on this trip.

We drove from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm.

Day 12:  First Day of School.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Madhav Gautam, the manager at Maruni Sanctuary Lodge, remembered me from an incident that happened in 2006.  Click here to read, Honesty and Poverty

Smiley the Manager, Madhav Gautam

Here is picture of an Elephant carrying tourists in the jungle that I didn't have pictures of when I wrote Honesty and Poverty.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hunters in the Jungle

Maruni Sanctuary Lodge

I'm glad they are not hanging real animal heads a la 'Hemingway.'

"Certainly there is no hunting like the hunting of man and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never really care for anything else thereafter. You will meet them doing various things with resolve, but their interest rarely holds because after the other thing ordinary life is as flat as the taste of wine when the taste buds have been burned off your tongue." (from 'On the Blue Water' in Esquire, April 1936) - Hemingway

What a scary thought.

I like to hunt with my binnies, binoculars.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Friday, August 20, 2010

Cable Car, Nepal

Click to Enlarge
Somehow, I am not too excited about the cable car in Nepal.

click to enlarge
But rafting down the river in an inner tube, that, I would do in a heartbeat.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Crossing the River in Nepal

See the cage on the wire.

Here it is again.

See the little blue cage, this one is in use.  Click to enlarge.

I'm grateful that I have not had to cross the river this way yet.  Sometimes I see animals crossing over with the people in those cages.  This one appears to be mechanical.  Some of them are wooden crates dangling from ropes with pulleys, the people pull themselves and their belongings across hand over fist.  My adopted nephew said that he lost control once and the wheel ran over his fingers.  His fingers are OK now.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Journey to the Jungle

I hadn't ridden the bus to the jungle for many years.  There were good reasons not to take the bus but it had been such a long time that I had forgotten.  It was not just that the ride is so bumpy that more than once I have slammed so hard into the roof of the bus that I thought I might have done permanent damage to my neck and spine, it is also the constant terror of what might tumble into the road in front of the bus at any time.  Chickens and dogs wander into the roads.  Sometimes the dogs just lay smack dab in the middle of the road and don't bother to move, even with vehicles passing them on both sides.  Cows will also lie in the middle of the road.  The cows are particularly bothersome because if the bus accidentally hit them and killed the cow, the passengers could all be held responsible for the death of the cow which might send us to prison for as many as 12 years.

Large rocks barely attached to the mountainside hover over the road; blind curves yield goats and goat herders; narrow passages at the edges of cliffs are always where other trucks and buses are encountered; and when I look into a ravine, that is where I see the remains of a bus that didn't make it. Then I have to worry about the buses that we encountered coming up from the jungle carrying people, goats, sacks of potatoes, bicycles, women with vegetables and bananas on top.  What if they bounce too hard or take a turn to fast and spill off of the top?

On this trip, a little girl playing too near the road tumbled into the street in front of us.  Our bus screeched to a stop while blasting the horn.  Terrified by the noise the 3 year old began to sob at which point her mother ran out of the house grabbed her up by one arm and gave her a good whack.  Shortly after that, our first pee stop was a dirt hill where men and women squat within view of one another.  It took me a few minutes to work up the courage to bare my bum on the hill.  I had to stake out a place, out of view, where I wasn't also stepping on fly covered human feces.  Fortunately, at the following stop, there were squat toilets with doors and an attendant to keep them from getting too filthy.

It was a significant drop down to the river.  I was hoping that no one had been riding on top.
Next time I think I will fly.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

On the Road Again

I am still on the road.  The boys and I are traveling from Cleveland, OH to Chesapeake, VA to Atlanta, GA for the next couple of shows.  I don't usually take the kids with me, but they are 7 and 12 now and I think that they can manage to occupy their minds with books while I am working at the beads shows.

Between Chesapeake and Atlanta, we will try to visit friends and see some of America.  I am planning to take them to Biltmore in Ashville, NC.  The rest may have to come to me as we travel.

While I am away, I will leave you with images from my trip to Chitwan Jungle in Nepal.

Forgive me if I can't explore your blogs much while I'm away.  I will try to drop in from time to time.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Learning Patience

We are used to instant gratification in the west.  Some people become hysterical when the red light does not change quickly enough or if their fast food order does not arrive in under one minute.  Did you see the woman who smashed the window at a McDonald's drive-through because she couldn't get her McNuggets for breakfast when she wanted them?  In many developing countries people are used to waiting for things.  I remember waiting to have breakfast on the top of the roof of my hotel in Nepal.  My order was taken, drinks appeared, and about an hour later a boy came back from the market with a bag of materials to cook our breakfast.  Breakfast took two hours, but we had a good view while we waited.

We were only in Kathmandu for three full days before we left for the jungle, yet in that short amount of time we finished most of our business in Patan and Kathmandu and met with the Joy Foundation founders, who treated us to a fantastic dinner of rice and dal, vegetable curry, spicy potatoes, okra, spinach, and for desert papaya, oranges and then vanilla yogurt with pomegranate seeds. You have to try putting pomegranate in sweetened yogurt, yum! We were also introduced to Chang, Tibetan beer, which was kind of sweet and yummy and deceptively powerful.

At the gathering we met several people from Australia who had been working with the Joy foundation for more than 10 years.  They were there visiting the sites of some of the projects that they had helped to create.  They did a lot of work with schools and prisons.  I was horrified to find out women are sometimes jailed with their children in Nepal and they might stay in prison past their release time if they can not pay their fine!

The day before we left for the jungle we were able to get everything arranged for the school so that they could submit a proposal for their library, and we were able to establish contact people for the school.  Now, five months later, we are still waiting for the school to submit their proposal.  There isn't much more I can do but hope that someone in Nepal will steer the ship.  When they do, I should receive a list of items that they need, with price tags for books, shelves and other equipment.  I will be asking everyone I know to help us donate what is required at that time.  Until then, we wait.

Searching for Customers
I would like the library to happen very quickly, but there are some things that I simply have no control over.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Freak Street

I am endlessly blown away by the loads people carry.

I think I'm going to Katmandu,
That's really, really where I'm going to.
If i ever get out of here,
That's what I'm gonna do.
I think that's where I'm going to.
If i ever get out of here,
I'm going to Katmandu. -Bob Seger

In the early 1970s Kathmandu was the destination for hippies, celebrated in songs by Cat Stevens and Bob Seger and probably several others.  Back then it was an almost traffic-free city with seemingly unlimited supplies of hashish or marijuana. Cannabis is said to be Shiva's favorite herb and it grows wild all over Nepal.  It is used by sadhus as part of their normal religious practice.  Kathmandu was a veritable Shangri-la for the hippies.  Drug-seeking foreigners created a thriving trade here. Even today one can hear the whispered offers of all types of drugs when they walk down the streets.  When I took my dad, who was in his late 60's, he kept asking me, "What did they say?"  It was a little embarrassing to have to constantly tell my dad, "Just keep walking, you don't want any."

Freak Streat near Kathmandu Durbar Square used to be the center of the hippie drug culture.  Today, I see more Hindu and Buddhist religious paraphernalia for sale here than anything else, but the cheap hotels are still plentiful in this area.  On my first visit to Kathmandu I found a nice clean hotel for $15 a night in Thamel.  One of my traveling companions was not satisfied with this rate and found a cheaper $3 a night bed in a room on Freak Street.  He woke up covered in bed bug bites.  I guess you get what you pay for.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


Kathmandu, Nepal

Look at the open window.  Click to enlarge.

Friends on a bench in Kathmandu, Nepal
Some people go to priests; others to poetry; I to my friends.
Virginia Woolf

Friday, August 6, 2010

Wearing Masks

Kathmandu, Nepal
To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. e.e. cummings 1955

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Kathmandu, Nepal

“There is no remedy for love but to love more.”- Henry David Thoreau

Kathmandu, Nepal

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Being Busy!

Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing. - Lao Tsu

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Examine Your Beliefs

Thangka Shop, Kathmandu

After examination, believe what you yourself have tested and found to be reasonable, and conform your conduct thereto. ~Buddha

Thangka Shop, Kathmandu

Thangka Shop, Kathmandu 
 Click on these and examine them deeply.

Monday, August 2, 2010


Thangka Shop, Kathmandu

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.
If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

- The Dalai Lama

Thangka Shop, Kathmandu

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it.--Confucius