Loving the driving!

by Luke, in Nepal
21st November, 2009

Nathan and I got up early and hit the road in search of the calf we had found on the way home last night. Thankfully the treatment we gave must have worked because where the calf had been lying was a lot of dung and it had clearly got up and walked away. The best bit of the morning though, was that on the way back to the shelter, our driver pulled over and indicated he wanted me to drive.

I’ve been driving the other truck so we thought he simply wanted a break as it was a long day yesterday, but it soon turned out it was because he wasn’t sure of the way. So with our driver in the back and me and Nathan in the front – we headed back to Pokhara and the shelter on instinct. Needless to say that with the driver not speaking a word of English, us not having a map and despite our innate knowledge of the street layouts of Pokhara and surrounding Nepali communities, we were a bit late meeting up with Marc and Simon!
A few cases later at the shelter, the rest of the guys headed off to a Tibetan Settlement full of Tibetan refugees who had fled into Nepal from neighbouring Tibet. I stayed behind a bit to sort out a couple of animals and was planning to catch up with them for an afternoon of treatments. Once again, I was with the driver from earlier, and once again, he pulled over and gestured for me to hop into the driving seat. We’ve actually got a driver who simply doesn’t like driving, so although he knew the way to the camp, he proceeded to instruct me to go left at each roundabout and then shout right at the last minute from the back seat. Brilliant! Horns blaring, kids, motorbikes and cows everywhere – it couldn’t have been much more chaotic until we drove up a narrow road which was lined by Buddhist monks who fanned out in front of us. I stopped and suddenly they all started to get into the vehicle! Unknown to me, we were picking them up – about ten of them in a four seater truck – and taking them to the settlement!

As the only one who couldn’t speak Nepali, it was a great plan for me to still be driving at this point. Luckily, I had lots of help finding the way and was suddenly receiving directions from everyone – left right meant right and left meant left. Took a bit of working out. Of course when you are in a truck crammed full of Buddhist monks, normal highway rules don’t apply so without any hesitation I was directed the wrong way up a one way street, told to cut across several lanes of traffic and pretty much told to drive through buildings that obstructed our path.

I have never had such a bizarre journey and have to say it was the highlight of the day by a long way!
The community work was brilliant – lots of dogs (Tibetan Terriers unsurprisingly), goats and horses. Buddhist monks are into dogs – or so it seemed as they all had them and brought them for treatment! There was an animal blessing and a general manic air to the session – great stuff.
Simon was on fire after his heroics yesterday with all the filming in the gorge, Marc seems pretty happy with the shoot and Nathan is very pleased to be alive after my driving!

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