Posted by: Mitch Silver | October 14, 2011

Return to Namarkhu – Oct 10, 2011

Just back from a trip to Namarkhu in Lamjung district. Getting to and from Namarkhu is a major effort. First you take a car or bus for 5-6 hours on paved road. Then if you’re lucky, you squeeze onto a bus or jeep for a minimum of 3 hours of bouncing and jostling on a severely rutted dirt road. A few days back the bus was so crowded, I opted to sit on the roof.  You need to pay serious attention to low hanging wires, branches and bamboo, which aside from causing potential serious injury can suddenly leave you furiously brushing off biting ants.  Some scary moments while holding on for dear life, when the bus was listing more than 20 degrees with a precipitous drop on one side. You imagine the bus tumbling down the mountain while simultaneously thinking which direction you are going jump off the roof.  But before disaster struck, the bus augured into thick mud coming to a sudden stop listing to one side.

Stuck in the mud for 3 hours

Three hours of digging and pushing later we were on our way again. The final leg was 3 hours of trekking to the village which inevitably ends with a steep 30 minute steep descent in the dark. The joys of travel: “It’s not the destination but the journey”.

Once in the village, hospitality is great and if you are a fan of dal bhat (rice and lentils) and kodo ko rakshi (a locally distilled millet drink) you are in luck. There is a fair amount of competition as to who gets to invite us for meals and drinks.

We had a village meeting to consider building a new drinking water system. Lots of interest as the need is obvious. Step one is to pay and engineer to come to the village and design and create a cost estimate. Hopefully this will happen in the next week or two. Lots of design options with the major consideration being whether to have several tap stands in the village or spend some extra money and have pipes to each and every household with an inexpensive water meter. The next major hurdle will be to figure out how to come up with the funds to buy the pipes and other equipment. A very rough guess is that it will cost US$7000-$8000. There is some money from the sale of the lighting equipment to the villagers, but this is perhaps only 20% of the total cost. Labor such as digging of ditches to bury pipes and carrying cement and sand, and rocks will be voluntary.

View of Namarkhu ridge

The next day we visited some neighboring off the grid villages who had expressed interest in solar lighting like Namarkhu and Samgaredi villages now have. The 45 minute walk from Namakhu followed an irrigation ditch, and before I knew it my shoes and ankles were covered in leeches. Too late, as I had 10 bites and another dozen suckers were looking for a blood donation. Wouldn’t be so bad if they healed, but in my case they anticoagulant the leeches leave makes for festering wound. Uggh.

Preliminary investigation left me wondering on the cost effectiveness of these particular villages as the villages clusters are groups of 10 to 14 houses separated by a 15-20 minute walk. Each cluster would need their own charging station. I think this decision will require another visit.

The trip back to Kathmandu was also pretty brutal. Woke up at 4:30 am with a 5 am departure straight up hill. almost 3 hours later we were at the bus to take us another 3 hours to the paved road. Then we waited 3 hours to catch a micro bus with seats to take us for the 5 hour ride back to Kathmandu. At 8:30 pm I finally arrived at my hotel.

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Responses

  1. Thanks for the post. Sounds brutal but also awesome.


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