We heard the drums as our car pulled up to Champa’s family house in eastern Nepal. Then we saw the dancers. Champa’s brother appeared with an armful of flower garlands. His wife held colorful scarves.
We’d arrived in Ilam, where Champa grew up and the two of us met when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer. Now it was 45 years later and we were traveling with our older son, Paul, his wife Stephanie and their four daughters. It was 9:30 p.m. Our drivers had been navigating the rutted, dusty roads since 4:30 a.m.
Our exhaustion gave way to astonishment, then elation as we stumbled out of our two jeeps and entered the courtyard. With flowers and scarves around our necks and drums beating beside us, we joined the traditional Limbu folk dance.
Three days later we encountered an even bigger welcome, this time in the small village of Champa’s late older sister, where several of our nieces and nephews still live. This time we heard the drums as we walked on a mountain path approaching their house. Our extended family was waiting there with flower garlands. Two girls performed a dance. Folded hands and namastes gave way to hugs.
These were just two of many unforgettable moments during our trip to Nepal, from where we returned a few days ago. We’ll remember our granddaughters seeing Kathmandu’s glorious temples and the monkeys at Swayambhou. There was Maya singing at Ilam’s outdoor Christmas show. Paula playing soccer with local men. The twins laughing with their cousins. School visits. Tea with old friends. Steaming plates of momos. Roosters waking us at sunrise.
Paul and Stephanie had wanted to make the trip for years. Now, finally, our global family was brought together. Our worries about the trip never materialized. Everyone stayed healthy. Our family and friends welcomed us at every stop with boundless generosity. The girls fell in love with Nepal, as we’d hoped they would.
We’re still processing the trip. I’ll post more about it soon and also about Qatar, where Champa and I stopped on our way home. For now, I hope you’ll enjoy the photo slide show below.
Nepal, we miss you already.
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