After a cup of tea on the terrace outside the farmstead, where breakfast and lunch were also served, I followed Govinda still further up the hillside to reach the Sun House, set back into a hillside and facing the mountains – except the mountains weren’t visible. Later, I realized that the Sun House came by its name because the roof was translucent, and the afternoon sun shone through. Unfortunately, so did the moonlight.
Left alone, I checked that the lights worked, and absorbed the fact that the toilet, though Western, didn’t flush (not really a problem – there was a tap and a pail) and that the only hot water available would arrive in the morning in a brass bucket (much more of a problem). I went off to explore, finding a couple of low, roofed benches (really tables) beside a pond, with views in all directions. I loved the setting, with trees and flowers everywhere, and settled down to relax into the silence. I returned to the Sun House around dusk – to find that the lights no longer worked.
After I located my flashlight, I went back down to the farm, to learn that the power would be out from 5:00 to 7:00, and that someone was even now lighting candles for me (have you ever tried reading by candlelight?) Dinner arrived at 6:30 as scheduled, with lentil soup and rice kept warm in lidded pots and the vegetable curries cold. I had been instructed to leave the dishes outside, which was not the easiest thing to do when trying to carry a narrow-beamed flashlight and manouever over a threshold and down a step.
Govinda had brought a hot water bottle along with dinner, which was just as well, as the guys who showed up later to light the paraffin stove were unable to get it to work. Fortunately, I grew up with hot water bottles, and I knew that if I wanted more than a single patch of warm bed I needed to move it aound. And since it provided the only heat in the room I went to bed early, wondering what on earth I was doing there.
I found out in the morning.
Yesterday’s haze was just a memory. Now, from west to east (or east to west), the horizon was one long band of mountains, the peaks seeming almost ethereal against the cloudless sky. Like the Taj Mahal, the impact of this view is something that neither words nor pictures can fully convey. The photos may persuade you to visit, but when you see the reality for yourself, you realize that they are just faint reflections. I spent most of the morning just absorbing the beauty.
When Govinda brought my hot water up from the farmstead, it was close to boiling. Since I didn’t bother to ask for a hairdryer, and therefore didn’t wash my hair, I had plenty of water. (For those who haven’t tried it, my technique was to half-fill the dipper with cold water, and then top up with hot. After getting good and wet I soaped up, and then rinsed off. No problem.) Breakfast included a beautiful avocado, and lunch featured a piece of honeycomb Govinda had taken from the hive that day, which was delicious and not nearly as sweet as I expected.
When the clouds began to roll in again, I went down to the village. Really not so much a village as series of farms, with a shop, a school, a clinic and a Development Corporation building as the center. I bought a couple of snacks at the store, and took photos of a pretty girl and her animals at one of the farms, but was most interested by the contrast between the outside of the clinic and the development building, and the inside. I’m not quite sure what the government-appointed development guy was supposed to be doing, but inside his very nice building he had a very primitive office. A middle-aged man was learning to type on an obsolete computer, but they didn’t have an inernet connection. I found a similar situation at the clinic. Both buildings had been put up with outside money, from Japan in the case of the clinic, but somehow the donations had stopped short of furnishing the interiors. When I left I gave Govinda tip money for the staff, and extra “for wherever it was needed” – which seemed to be about everywhere.
The clouds had arrived to stay, and I spent most of the afternoon reading and typing, although I went out again near dusk to catch the sunset. That evening the power stayed on, and Govinda was able to get the stove to work, but otherwise it was a repeat of the day before. For me, the morning spent gazing at that wonderful view pretty much redeemed the trip. However, if the view had not appeared, and there were no more views for the rest of my time in Nepal, I would have had a different reaction. I also suspect that the same view might be available elsewhere in greater comfort. The ambiance at the farm is alluring – it just needs a few mundane improvements….