The Road to Palungtar: Day 3
By George Gemmill, Oct 17, 2018
8 October 2018 | Day 3 | Palungtar
Some of us were a little later than others, but we managed to get everyone out the hotel at 6:00am and onto the bus to Palungtar.
It was a 5-hour journey away. As we started, we went around the bus introducing ourselves, our experience with Northland and what we hoped to gain from the trip. It was very interesting to hear from everyone what they hoped to achieve. We broke up our journey with a great stop for lunch along the scenic Trishuli river. Most of the food, as is part of a staple diet in Nepal, consisted of veg, rice and lentils with a little beef added and some local sauces available. At the same stop we changed buses.
This might not sound a big deal (changing of buses) but we swapped over from the traditional western coach to a local cramped bus, learning this was because the previous coach would be too wide for the roads ahead. During the remainder of the trip up into the hills, many of us weren’t totally convinced that the coach we changed into wasn't too wide either. We found that Day 2’s driving was replicated for Day 3 and much to our amazement millimeters were satisfactory for the local drivers- even in certain cases that required cornering large cliff drops!
The sheer drops were perhaps a secondary concern for the most part however, as the roads were completely undeveloped and so all passengers were exposed to extreme turbulence. Despite this, the coach proved extremely robust and we arrived at our destination in good spirits.
A very touching welcome awaited us as flower garlands were placed around each of our necks and we got to walk down a 30 meter corridor of very cheery, clapping children to the main presentation area.
Shortly after we were divided into our teams. Team A began prepping the brackets for the solar panels while Team B took on the prep work for the batteries for the solar panels.
Team C went around the town and were introduced to the locals, and our final Team D took the role of lecturers in the classroom.
We rotated thereafter allowing everyone an opportunity to assume a variety of roles. The day was very fun, humbling and left everyone on great spirits as we finished the installation and began to understand more about the locals. One of the most humbling aspects was how people welcomed us into their homes to present to us how they lived, their struggles and how social prejudices (e.g. social class) is something that can divide groups here. This being said, the positivity shown by everyone in Palungtar was incredible. They are happy with what they have and work hard to continuously help their community.
After the solar panels were hoisted to the roof, we watched a dance performance by the school children and we were each presented with a local scarf. Guy Morgante accepted a framed thank you from the school as a reminder of the good work done.
We ended the day with a bumpy bus journey back to our hotel. Tomorrow we begin our hike up Mardi Himal – bring it on!