Monday, March 2, 2009

Catching up


It's the last day of the briefing. I had lunch with Fernanda at the hotel's poolside restaurant. I missed Fernanda. We had a great time together as a team when we were international observers in Indonesia for the Carter Center. She was one of the nicest persons in that mission, and we had a fun time in North Sulawesi, Gorontalo, and Bali. Prior to joining the Carter Center, she was already with the UNDP in Jakarta. In the few years that we didn't see each other (while I struggled in Manila -- see the rope burns), she finished her Master's in Lisbon, served in Mozambique and East Timor, spent time in Goa, and now she's been here in Nepal for almost a year with the UN. She has traveled around Nepal, even to Mustang Valley which remains inaccessible to cars (you can only reach it by trekking for several days -- I can't wait for the roads to be built, but I wish the culture will be preserved).

She said the country poses a lot of challenges, one of which is, of course, the terrain. She said some of the villages in the hilly areas are accessible only by helicopter, as they are located on the hilltops. I later learned that this is probably because the people wanted to stay as far away from the plains as possible, where malaria used to wreak havoc.

I asked Fernanda about what she doesn't like about Nepal, and she answered the caste system. Some people treating others like dirt. This is something that is not yet obvious to me, and I really don't know much about the caste system yet, but I'm sure as I spend more time here, I'll know what she's talking about.

No comments: