Our second week here in Sauraha has begun. On Saturday, we celebrated the birthday of our Instructor Alex Smith, by visiting the village where he did his Master’s research (about an hour away). Our means of transportation was a jeep with open air seats in the back (no seat belts). So, the six students that decided to travel there with him piled in and set off over a variety of road terrains. Throughout our short journey, we were greeted in the most jubilant way by children from the surrounding towns. I should say that home life in Nepal is quite different than our own back stateside. Where life inside of the home is seen to be quite normal in the United States, life takes place primarily outside for Nepalis. Because the lack of indoor heating, it is often more comfortable to do ones work or enjoy oneself in the front yard. In many ways, despite our ‘social’ media prowess, Nepali culture is much more inviting than our own – which values ones personal space to the enth degree. It was truly touching to experience the shouts and welcoming motions of children, sometimes running toward our quickly disappearing vehicle in order to receive a wave back.
After arriving, we began a trek towards a distant waterfall hidden away in the hillside (midwestern mountains) of the surrounding area. Our trek to the waterfall lasted almost two hours, hiking through terrace farmland, trudging through increasingly inclining forest terrain, and avoiding as many nettles as possible. While on the path, one could see banana trees with fruit hanging. Unfortunately, we were told that they were not ripe enough to pick at the moment. At the waterfall, we stayed a while to eat biscuits and refresh. Some of us more than others. Alex, Shanna, and Valerie decided to cool off in the pool of water under the fall. We then turned back (and only got lost once) towards Alex’s host house for Dal Bhat and a quick walk to the local river. On the way home, we drove past a wedding celebration, where for the most brief time the crowd turned its attention towards us before breaking out in laughter (probably also towards us).
Included in this post are not pictures from our walk to the waterfall but of a small sample of the animals that have already been observed in our first week on site.
*Click Photographs to Enlarge*
Male and Female Asian Elephants
Brown Hawk Owl
This is the critically endangered (Under 240 in the world) Gharial – one of two crocodile species in Chitwan National Park. They are a specialized fish-eating crocodile species, as seen by their long, thin jaws, best suited for catching fish. Their numbers are extremely low due to habitat slowly decreasing to only about 2% of former range. Currently, in Chitwan National Park, there is a recovery effort under way in form of a Gharil Breeding Center – where they are grown about to the age of 2-3 before being released into the wild. We will visit there sometime over the semester.
You have heard of the Honey Badger? Well this it that in bird form. The Honey Buzzard just don’t care about bee stings. Because, it ferociously attacks large honeycombs and eliminates them in no time. Hotels are actually not allowed to remove bee honeycombs (seriously, there are some as large as me) even if they are in resident balconies (we see them often) – because the Honey Buzzard will eventually make short work of it. Cool.
I have seen this family at least three times this first week on my daily walks around the area. Just last night, I was watching them as they lay down by the river between some trees for shade. After some time watching them, another rhino farther down caught my eye – and I decided to follow him. Surprisingly to me, not too much later, this family joined him, and the four Rhinos all drank together by the river grunting happily.
Last night, this guy decided to (quite literally) munch a tree down to the ground next to the room of our Professor. This is the same Rhino that was rescued and recuperated by the NTNC (also the same Rhino who came into camp from the previous update). It has been absolutely fascinating to see how these large mammals can just take entire trees and eat them like saltwater taffy in the summertime.
Language has been going very well. We are becoming more proficient at remembering the necessary verbs and differing tenses used through constant conversation. Other lectures so far have included the history, culture, large mammals, and geography of Nepal. Our permission from the government to fully enter the park should arrive soon – and subsequently, our arrival by elephant will commence. Until then, we will continue with our fascination of each new day being alive in all available ways. Wherever you are, I hope the same for you.
Grace and Peace,
To my fellow Americans (In my most presidential voice), it sounds like that Super Bowl was a fun one to watch. I hear America is now officially out of money because of that halftime show.