We woke up freezing cold so it was pretty good being fully dressed as there was no way I was even going to bare my feet to change socks! Instead I put my boots straight on and warmed my hands on my breakfast boiled eggs! Today’s trek would take us from our summit (of sorts) to melamchi where we had planned to visit a school run by Purna who by all email accounts seemed adorable! We set off in the snow – finally a day of just downhill although our knees were aching by the end! We trekked through thick forests that were quickly turning white and traversed rickety bridges with planks missing until we made it to a jungle like habitat and total rain! Both of us were glad to be kitted out in our warties (waterproof trousers/jackets/socks – the LOT) as we finally reached a beautiful view of melamchi peaking our beneath lush green hills and snow capped mountains.
We headed straight to Purna’s home on arrival and were ushered into yet another wonderful carpeted living space with the classic Nepalese wood burner in the centre and a pot of water boiling away ready to make us tea! We were warmly greeted by Purnas wife and an elderly couple who I will call Grandma and Grandpa Melamchi as I have no idea of their names and finally to Cammi who walked us over to the school to meet Purna. Sporting a bushy grey moustache and a big grin, Purna toured us around the school site which was massive, much bigger than I had imagined! We poked our heads into classrooms where with or without a teacher the students were all diligently studying! Purna also showed us the new hostel accommodation and cosy study spaces that had been built since the earthquake had entirely flattened the school two years previously! It was clearly really organised and all the kids worked with each other to complete laundry, washing up and study no matter what age they were! inspired by such a wonderful venture along with a visit to their clinic to see how the buildings would look with further investment dad and I had plenty of questions once we reached back to the house! Purnas wife had made this incredible Sherpa soup with dumplings and my first taste of meat in over a month, dried buffalo, to warm us as the rain and cold was still pretty relentless! Revived and warmed with food, dad and I decided to walk to the famed Buddhist Sun and Moon caves once inhabited by gurus. As the rain held off we followed what we hoped were pathways as opposed to villagers’ back gardens and made our way to an area draped in hundreds of prayer flags. Just as we arrived as some sort of religious sign perhaps! The heavens opened and we ran into the cave to shelter! The rain was not showing any signs of stopping so dad and I braved it and jogged back to Purnas house arriving absolutely DRENCHED! There we changed into snugly dry clothes which meant dad was in leggings – brilliant – and warmed up in our little room. Later that evening we headed back to the fire ready for dinner at the chefs table again and chatted away with the family and with Corin, the only other westerner in the village who used his charity to support IT at the school. We feasted on Daal Bhat with the most incredible cabbage and were introduced to Roxy – the local rice wine equivalent where ghee or clarified butter is added to the brew! Needless to say I was still nervous of upsetting my stomach as it finally seemed to be able to handle meals and avoided it, filling up on extra portions of this feast instead. Grandpa Melamchi behaved as usual and slept in the corner but GrandmaMelamvhi through various translators in the room told us stories of encountering a Yeti just where we had walked that day when she was only 12 or 13 – something to definitely think about then for the next time I return to Nepal!