Zachary, from North Carolina, USA, volunteered in June 2016 in Nangi village. He taught wilderness medicine skills to guides, porters, community trek lodge staff, students and local healthcare providers. He shares a meditative page from his journal:
21 June 2016
“Today has been one of the most incredible of my life. It started out fine, woke up and got ready to teach. The day was rainy and crappy all day, but at sunset, it cleared. Completely, totally cleared with the sun and clouds in the lower elevations. Dhaulagiri, Nilgiri, Annapurna south and Annapurna were all visible together in an unbroken line. It was an incredible sight. I was running to the round house to pick up milk for rice pudding and I saw what was happening with the weather. I couldn’t contain myself. I ran to the roundhouse, got the milk, and was doing parkour moves all the way back down. I dropped it off with Pokmaya and ran to the highest place in Nangi and stayed there until dark.
The mountains were so large and imposing that their black rocks looked slightly blue due to the atmosphere refracting the sunlight. The sun was setting and casting colors all over their sides. The clouds were in the valleys and ravines below Nangi, so it was as if I was flying through the clouds and up to the peaks above. The sun cast its dying light first on Dhaulagiri then Nilgiri, causing snowdrifts to blow off their peaks. Lenticulars were swirling around the Dhaulagiri range. Annapurna was basked in shadow but still completely imposing looking over Nangi. Eventually, the sun started to pass behind the mountains and cast its last alpenglow across the range.
I can’t believe I’m actually here. It’s been 20 years since I first learned about the Himalaya in elementary school, and to think that I’ve finally arrived after all this time is humbling. My time here is wrapping up – 4 days left in Nangi. It’s bittersweet, as always. I want to get back to school and my family. But at the same time, I want to continue teaching these people and continue learning from them. They are the hardiest, friendly, caring, and giving people I have ever met. My work in Haiti comes close in comparison, but this is slightly different. They are resourceful, extremely giving, always sharing and offering. The Haitian people are very similar, however, they live in more abject poverty and have received assistance for many decades. These people, with their mountain lifestyle, the work, views, the community…that’s what is incredible – the community. They work together on everything. School, finances, projects, childcare. Anything to help the community and the people who live in it.
I am glad I emailed and reached out to the organization to get this started, even if it was on the whim of seeing a youtube video. I continue to be amazed by the power and beauty of nature. As I left the lodge, after eating rice pudding and daal baht with Pokmaya and Ramaya, I left to find the solstice moon full and casting its light on Annapurna. Incredible. I walked back by moonlight. Tomorrow I should either be teaching students or traveling to Ramche to teach the health workers there. Either way, I know it will be another great adventure.”