The only predictable thing about the journey from Australia to Birtamod is that it will rarely be predictable. I had been warned that Nepal may be in the grip of a three day national strike on my arrival and indeed as we landed, the fact that I could see no cars on the roads confirmed this. Fortunately I had already planned to walk up to the domestic terminal. Motorcycles were allowed in some places so I was greeted at Biratnagar by mero bhai haru (my Nepali brothers) and a friend on two motorbikes.They escorted me and my bag to Dharan where we would stay over night. Even after over 30 hours of travel, I enjoyed the ride back to the place we’d lived for nearly four years. Suffice it to say, reaching somewhere to lie down was truly excellent.
Over the evening dal bhat we discussed the plan to try to reach Birtamod the next day which included the hire of an ambulance, feigned illness; real prescriptions and a high level of slightly desperate optimism. As it turned out we didn’t have to resort to subterfuge or off road travel as the national strike was stopped after one day. There was some concern regarding our driver who’d had a big night the night before but I comforted myself that he wasn’t attempting to use a mobile phone so was probably functioning similarly to drivers talking on phones. Twice we got a bit nervy when traffic slowed; once when a tree was felled somewhat thoughtlessly and secondly when the police called our driver over and he nervously searched for his license which he had apparently used as a bond to obtain drink the night before. Fortunately, the police didn’t want to see the license but were letting us know about our need for a police escort for a short distance as a different group decided whether they were going to implement strike behaviour. It was a cosy trip given that there were 8 of us in a tiny vehicle but that is pretty normal! I had a bony nine year old on my lap and the driver was totally comfortable.
And now here I am. About to have a mustard oil hair massage, hot milk to drink, and a really long deep sleep!