NEPAL – Day Volunteering near Kathmandu – days 2 & 3

Chivando como chorizo…

(Written by Steph)

Day two:

So, we had a fun first day, and it was hot, but the work was not overly strenuous. We were on a roll and ready to work hard the next day. Day two and we were on the infamous “Rubble” project. “That’s ok,” we thought. It would be good to know what it was like to do physical labour akin to that of the locals, who quite frankly, had blown us out of the water with their strength and endurance, especially the women. I was slightly worried about my ability to be of use, not really being known for my biceps, but every little helps, or that’s what Tesco would have us believe…

A local woman, taking the heavy load completely in her stride

“Wherever Steph goes, you can guarantee she’ll find the Spanish speaker…” even in Turkish kebab shops, but I digress…Our team leader was Javi, and I was excited to find he was from Argentina, as was another one of the guys. I would be happily distracted from the physical exertion of the day by speaking Spanish. I was muy feliz. Nick was silently rolling his eyes.

Still, we arrived at the site, shovels, pic axes and wheelbarrows in hand, and surveyed the huge heap of mud – bamboo and rocks tightly encased. Clouds covered the sky, and we all gave a not so silent thanks, praying that we hadn’t jinxed it with our acknowledgement/recognition. The aim was to move the mud, using the wheelbarrow, and dump it in a nearby field, picking out the rocks, the bamboo, the wood, any belongings that had been buried, and level out the ground. It seemed doable. And it was, but it was bloody hard work. I quickly found that I was about as useful as a chocolate teapot (I am, afterall, a part Irish invention) with the wheelbarrow, finding it hard to push off on the soft ground and keep the damn thing upright whilst negotiating the makeshift downhill ramp. Several times I nearly ended up flinging myself into the field below along with the mud deposits. Maybe that would have been a good place to hide, in fact. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Nick with our new Rubble buddy, Zafar, an Afghani journalist with a wicked sense of humour. Just behind them you can see the cleared ground
Some of the beneficiary's belongings, including an English exercise book, which we retrieved from the mud
The English exercise book we found, full of Einstein, poetry and jokes created by the children

I did, however, work out that if I shovelled from above, instead of sideways, I could use my legs to push the shovel into the mud. Then I just had to summon the strength to get the mud into the wheelbarrow. It was evident that we were not going to finish the site that day, but once we had set ourselves an end-of-day target, I found a new mental focus, and used this to keep going. I was pretty weak, but I was determined.

By the end of the day, I had spoken a whole load of Spanish, and moved a whole ton of mud, pleasantly¬†distracted by the reggae and dub soundtrack. And finally I could use my new Argentinian phrase with confidence and sincerity – “Estoy chivando como chorizo en la guantera.” To you and me, that’s, “I’m sweating like chorizo in the glovebox.”

Day three:

We decided that we should sign up for the same site today. We had debated trying to get on the highly coveted 50 Homes project today, if only to recover slightly from yesterday’s super workout, but we were aching less than we thought. Plus, today was a half day, and it would be nice to continue on the same site. We remembered soon after, that the Dhal Baat* lunch we had had the previous day on site, provided by the beneficiary, was one of the best we had had since arriving in Nepal. Bonus.

Having only a half day spurred us on to work even harder today, knowing that at lunch we could make up for energy expelled by eating ourselves into a rice coma. Still, the sun was out, and despite the continuous water breaks, no one peed all morning. As someone who has the bladder of an old lady, this was a sure sign of major dehydration. And sure enough, with only 15 minutes of work left to go, Nick was on the verge of fainting and had to sit and have some sugary biscuits. It was an important reminder that we needed to drink even more – on the next site, and despite the often questionable toilets, we would make it our mission to pee.

Sitting down for lunch in the beneficiary's home, where 7 people are currently living. Chris, one of the Argentinians, is pictured on the lefthand side, sweating like chorizo.


*Dhal Baat literally means, “dhal rice,” and is easily the most common food in Nepal. Similar to a Thali in India, it is generally comprised of a variety of small portions of different dishes: Dhal (lentils), some kind of vegetable dish, a chutney, some slices of cucumber/radish/carrot and the biggest amount of rice you’ve ever seen! This lady’s Dhal Baat also had hard-boiled egg fried in spices, a delicious tomato chutney, and a cold potato salad.


2 thoughts on “NEPAL – Day Volunteering near Kathmandu – days 2 & 3

  1. Nick – I’m with you on the eye rolling, but almost worth putting up with it to learn such an expression – love it!!


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