The MountainWorld Blog by Jake Norton

The MountainWorld Blog by Jake Norton

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“Travel is fatal to prejudice…” Those insightful…

“Travel is fatal to prejudice…” Those insightful words are perhaps the most critical reason we should travel, be across the tracks or around the world t meet with those on the other side. What we find is generally deep and profound similarity veiled by stark differences in language, faith, clothing, custom, and skin. But, underneath those assumed or genetic, and ultimately superficial, differences, we find that people are people, with the same needs and desires, regardless of location, look, and belief. But, to find that, we have to travel, and then we have to talk. Sri Gopal Giri-ji Maharaj, pictured here, is a prime example. From first glance, he could not be more different than me; we are both the epitome of exotic in comparison to one another. But, beneath the veil, we’re much the same. Over an hour of sharing tea, we talked and laughed, shared pictures of family and travels, discussed politics and the devastation of the #NepalQuake, and then went our separate ways. Travel, explore, connect. Great to be back in Nepal with @clarkliesl @mreverest7x and more!#travelisfataltoprejudice #liveyouradventure #nepaliloveyou #nepalphotoproject #sadhu #Pashupatinath #Kathmandu #Nepal

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I went to a #war zone today….

I went to a #war zone today. Perhaps not a “real” one in terms of bombs going off and people fighting one another. But, it is a war zone nonetheless. #Bhaktapur, one of my favorite places in the world, took the brunt of destruction in the #NepalQuake. A #medieval city of narrow, brick street winding through ancient #Newar homes with intricate woodwork, huge parts of Bhaktapur were leveled in the #earthquake. This neighborhood, just a stone’s throw from famed #Dattatreya Square and the Peacock Window (which fortunately survived) used to have dozens of 4-story homes. It’s now just piles of shattered brick and splintered timber. A war zone indeed, and one in which recovery is a long and difficult road. #HelpCarryTheLoad #nepaliloveyou #liveyouradventure #dattatreyatemple #everydaynepal #everydayasia #nepalphotoproject #buildbackbetter

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I'd love to know her story, hear her tales and insights and inspirations. But, in the years I've met her and spoken to her and given her donations, she's never replied much. She speaks only #Tibetan, and I only #Nepali (and some English on a good day), and she seems hesitant to discuss even if we could. So I content myself with a deep smile, a tashi delek, and receipt of a blessing from her wizened soul. Sometimes, that is more than enough.

I’d love to know her story, hear…

I’d love to know her story, hear her tales and insights and inspirations. But, in the years I’ve met her and spoken to her and given her donations, she’s never replied much. She speaks only #Tibetan, and I only #Nepali (and some English on a good day), and she seems hesitant to discuss even if we could. So I content myself with a deep smile, a tashi delek, and receipt of a blessing from her wizened soul. Sometimes, that is more than enough. #nepaliloveyou #nepalphotoproject #bodhanath #HelpCarryTheLoad #thestoriesafacecantell

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While there’s certainly scenes of destruction in…

While there’s certainly scenes of destruction in #Kathmandu – like this apartment building in #Machhapokhari – they are few and far between in the city. In general, Kathmandu fared reasonably well in the #NepalQuake and, as always has been the case, it has the money, power, and attention to recover. It is the rural areas – #Sindhupalchowk, #Dolakha, #Rasuwa, #Gorkha, and others – that saw the most damage and need the most help. So, what can you do? Keep money flowing to small, dedicated organizations working in rural Nepal. Keep the story of Nepal on the radar of the world’s news outlets. And, most importantly, come and visit…plan a trip to Nepal, inject money into the economy, and help give hope to a country that still need it. #HelpCarryTheLoad #nepaliloveyou #everydayasia #everydaynepal #liveyouradventure #nepalphotoproject

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“I’m a street kid,” Raj told me…

“I’m a street kid,” Raj told me with a smile, “so I have nothing to lose when earthquake come.” He makes his living – what little there is – by helping with cremations along the #Bagmati River at #Pashupatinath Temple. “I have nothing but problem before earthquake, and nothing but problem now, so not big change for me,” he continued. “For other people, though, big problem.” Everything is relative, I guess, and I can’t fault Raj for his perspective and finding some light amidst the challenge of post-earthquake #Nepal. #nepaliloveyou #HelpCarryTheLoad #nepalquake #homeless #nepalphotoproject #everydaynepal #everydayasia #liveyouradventure

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Twenty-two years ago, I walked nervously down a dusty dirt track bound for a village and a family and a life I could barely understand. I was just starting my semester abroad with @sitstudyabroad in #Nepal, and we were entering a village homestay. My family's house was a modest one, perched on a lush, gentle ridge in #Kavre-Palanchok, built of stacked stone with timber framing, "skinned" with ochre mud stucco in the #Newar tradition for the area. I remember stopping down to enter the main room on the ground floor, heart thumping with nerves, wondering how I was going to fit in, to communicate, to jigsaw into this new world. But, my fears were immediately assuaged by the smiles...deep, profound, sincere smiles arcing above clasped hands of #Namaste, the smiles of my village family, Ram Gopal Shrestha and his wife, Sita...smiles which immediately told me I was welcome, that what little was theirs was mine as well, that all would be alright. It was one of the most intense, profound, and impactful few weeks of my life. Today, I walked back through that doorway for the first time in 22 years. The smiles were still there...but now with a few more wrinkles, a few less teeth, and the wear and tear of years of subsistence agriculture, village life, and loss. Ram Gopal and Sita's house - my house - is barely standing. The #NepalQuake of 2015 shook the earth too much, torqued the stone walls and caved in some, cracked others, dropped ceilings onto floors and walls onto the road. "Ke garne?" was all Ram said. "What to do?" indeed. There is little a poor family like theirs can do, except move their salvageable possessions into the small tent they now call home, try to stay dry through the monsoon, and hope the government's promises funds to rebuild come through, and hope it's enough. And they are not alone: many houses in #Syampati and #Dapcha likewise collapsed, and it's a story played out almost a millionfold across the countryside of central Nepal. Now it's time for me to #HelpCarryTheLoad.

Twenty-two years ago, I walked nervously down…

Twenty-two years ago, I walked nervously down a dusty dirt track bound for a village and a family and a life I could barely understand. I was just starting my semester abroad with @sitstudyabroad in #Nepal, and we were entering a village homestay. My family’s house was a modest one, perched on a lush, gentle ridge in #Kavre-Palanchok, built of stacked stone with timber framing, “skinned” with ochre mud stucco in the #Newar tradition for the area. I remember stopping down to enter the main room on the ground floor, heart thumping with nerves, wondering how I was going to fit in, to communicate, to jigsaw into this new world. But, my fears were immediately assuaged by the smiles…deep, profound, sincere smiles arcing above clasped hands of #Namaste, the smiles of my village family, Ram Gopal Shrestha and his wife, Sita…smiles which immediately told me I was welcome, that what little was theirs was mine as well, that all would be alright. It was one of the most intense, profound, and impactful few weeks of my life.
Today, I walked back through that doorway for the first time in 22 years. The smiles were still there…but now with a few more wrinkles, a few less teeth, and the wear and tear of years of subsistence agriculture, village life, and loss. Ram Gopal and Sita’s house – my house – is barely standing. The #NepalQuake of 2015 shook the earth too much, torqued the stone walls and caved in some, cracked others, dropped ceilings onto floors and walls onto the road. “Ke garne?” was all Ram said. “What to do?” indeed. There is little a poor family like theirs can do, except move their salvageable possessions into the small tent they now call home, try to stay dry through the monsoon, and hope the government’s promises funds to rebuild come through, and hope it’s enough. And they are not alone: many houses in #Syampati and #Dapcha likewise collapsed, and it’s a story played out almost a millionfold across the countryside of central Nepal.
Now it’s time for me to #HelpCarryTheLoad. #dailylifenepal #dailylifeasia #nepalphotoproject #liveyouradventure #nepaliloveyou @jibanghimire

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“Since the earthquake, our lives are much…

“Since the earthquake, our lives are much harder,” she said, in a vast understatement. The twinkle in her eye and the quintessential South Asian head wobble suggested that she, like so many Nepalis, would weather the current storm with dignity and strength. I knew it would be like this to return to #Nepal post-earthquake, but that hasn’t dampened the surreality of it all. Nepalis have always been masters at dealing with the trials and tribulations of fate; life in this financially-impoverished #Himalayan nation demands it, rife as it is with challenges. So, when the earth shakes, buildings crumble, and life is upended completely, most Nepalis have done the only thing one can do when there’s no alternative: they’ve simply gotten on with life. They walk over piles of broken bricks to do morning #puja, past teetering walls to get to work, step over downed wires and broken pipes to do their shopping. And, they still smile, still laugh, still live – perhaps even more than before. It’s certainly much harder, and the future is uncertain as rebuilding is just beginning. But, life goes on, and Nepalis thus far are moving on with their typical grace and strength. #nepaliloveyou #nepalquake #HelpCarryTheLoad #nepalphotoproject #everydaynepal #everydayasia

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Sometimes when we #travel, there are places…

Sometimes when we #travel, there are places that grab us…they inexplicably touch our hearts, minds, and souls, perhaps connecting to some long lost (or forgotten) realm of our consciousness. These places draw us back, again and again, despite the hardships and challenges faced in getting there or while being there. #Nepal is such a place for me. From my first visit, 23 years ago, I was hooked, connected to the place and the people, the rich tapestry of culture and history, the brilliant fresco of tortured geography and active geology. I’m sad for the deep and profound losses my second home has faced (and continues to face) in these past months, but am excited to be returning to a nation, place, and people that have shaped me more than much else. And, with luck, perhaps I can provide a little help and make even just one tomorrow brighter. | In this photo, prayer flags flutter in the dwindling twilight in front of #Kangtega, #Khumbu. #HelpCarryTheLoad #nepaliloveyou #nepalquake #liveyouradventure

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Hard to believe this no-longer-little girl turned…

Hard to believe this no-longer-little girl turned 8 today. How the years zip by! She’s becoming quite a person, inspiring (and challenging) us in great ways every day. Happy Birthday, Lila! #notlittleanymore #timeflies #liveyouradventure @wendebvalentine

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“Western laziness consists of cramming our lives…

“Western laziness consists of cramming our lives with compulsive activity, so that there is no time at all to confront the real issues.” – #Sogyal #Rinpoche. | Here, Tibetan #Buddhist prayer flags flutter at sunset near Namo Buddha Monastery, #Syampati, #Nepal. Always good to remind ourselves of our laziness, and find the time to slow down…and think about the truly important in life. #sogyalrinpoche #quotes #quotations #everydaynepal #everydayasia

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