About a third of the family has left and gone away for vacation. Some have gone to cousin’s homes, others to their biological parents’ villages in Kalikot. To keep the kids who stayed in Kopila Valley from getting antsy, the volunteers and Maggie have been keeping them busy. Almost all the kids have learned to swim at the local pool, we organized a “Skills Challenge” and divided them up in 5 teams (events included prestigious events such as carrying a plate on your head or high distance water balloon tosses), and one visitor even organized a game show quiz for the whole family.
Last week, we all boarded the school bus at 7 am to go visit the “Lava Temples” of Dailekh, to the North. It was a 3-hour bus ride during which half the kids vomited as we wove our way over a string of mountains covered in a thick fog that blanketed our anticipated view of the Himilayas. This was followed by a 2 hour trek over undrivable roads and suspension bridges (which I studied carefully, since we plan to include one at the new campus), past howling bands of monkeys, with spectacular views of steep rice patties covering any fertile soil.
It was a long journey. The temples were fascinating, made all the more so because we were among the first foreigners to visit them, and contained no true “lava” but rather were built above a natural gas reservoir. There were four in total, separated by at least two miles, and each one contained a flame that never went out. 2 miles between and both places gushing natural gas? Frack, baby, frack!
From the outside, looking in from daylight, no flame could be seen. And the effect was that upon entering the darkness of the temple, a lick of fire would suddenly emerge from the wall of the temple.
At our farthest point, we passed by a group of 5 men and boys in nothing but loin cloths burning a funeral pyre on a river shadowed by a gargantuan banyan tree. They had all just shaved their heads, and made quite a sight. Out of respect, I didn’t take a picture, though I kind of wish I had. I climbed the banyan tree – the crotch of it was big enough to fit a queen sized bed.