After leaving Pokhara in the early hours another joyfully bumpy bus ride firmly grounded the idea in my mind that a rough road and no suspension is the best 'digestif'. The bus left early, (shock horror!) but then the driver disappeared for 10 minutes halfway out of the town, (is that Karma?). The journey was never-the-less beautiful, with absolutely fascinatingly deep gorges and cliffs high over the river. Creating two seemingly separate and inaccessible landscapes of high plateau and mountain versus snaking valley river.
Baglung as a district is home to many ex-Gurka soldiers from India and the UK, the main town itself is extremely pleasant, the landscape beautiful and the community we met extremely pro-active. It is due to this that in June we'll be trekking parts of Baglung with Beebal to try and develop a new route and support the local economy with a NERF 'Volun-Trek' (phrase coined by Mr G. John) in 2018. Hopefully there'll be a visit to Pokhara, Gaja Lake and other eye-widening heart-pumping things, but you'll have to wait a few months to hear about that...
After a slight misunderstanding regarding the time of breakfast and time of departure, (which resulted in me eating a lot of napkin wrapped pancake and napkin in the back of a jeep) we set off to the site of the new Gabin wall funded by our emergency appeal and you kind donors in 2016 post-monsoon.
Travelling to Lekhani VDC on a dusty track winding tightly along close contour lines we had an excellent view of the typical difficulties in transporting goods and materials for projects. Tractors were used in the main, as the president of our field partner Mr Parma Kandel of Nepal Gaja Youth Foundation, (NGDF) informed us that larger lorries would not even attempt the route.
The community again consists of many ex-Gurka families and ex-Dalit communities, the social division clearly outlined by the slate roofs of stone houses versus the mud and thatch. We were warmly greeted by the local community, began our introductions and examined the new anti-landslide wall, a huge construction of stone and wire spanning 30m length and 3 tiers high. For this project NGDF and NERF worked with a newly formed Local Disaster Relief Committee, the District Soil Conservation Office and the District Disaster Relief Committee. The local community supported both in terms of labour and funding an extension of the wall further below the site. To say the inputs and outcomes of all the stakeholders was promising for future projects is an understatement.
I was going to attempt to cram the entire Lekhani trip into this blog, but now looking through the photos I realise that this would not only fail to do it justice, but also be terrible marketing!
So until next time I hope you enjoy the photographs...