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Photographer's Note

Kushadevi was the last village I visited during my peregrinations in the Kathmandu Valley in February 2016. I stayed overnight in Ramesh’ youngest sister’s house. We slept in a shack nearby and dined in the family house, in a room that, after the earthquake, had been turned into a kitchen-cum-cowshed. The buildings that used to house farm animals had collapsed so the family shares the ground floor with cows and goats. The upper floors of the house had been badly damaged by the earthquake so they have nowhere else to live but that one room and that little hut.

When I was taking this photo, a cow slapped me on my back with its tail. That’s how little space there was.

Like most of Nepali families they live hand to mouth - they eat what they grow. They haven’t really got any cash to speak of, so they have no chance to build a new house or even repair the old one.

So, yes, this is the last of my photos from the trek through the disaster-struck hamlets. It was an unforgettable journey.

People often ask me if I was not scared to travel that way, to stay with total strangers (only because they were the family of someone I had only met for a brief moment over a year earlier and, as one does, exchanged email addresses with). Did I not get ill after eating the local food? Did I not feel threatened, as a solo travelling female, in the company of the local men? And the most recurring one: visiting countries so obviously less affluent than mine, it must be tempting for my hosts to take advantage of the situation and rob, kidnap, maybe even kill me in order to take possession of my belongings – camera, money, my European passport.

The answer to all these questions is no. Everywhere I went I felt welcome and safe. Normally, when travelling, I keep my passport and cash in a holster I wear under my clothes. There, in Kathmandu Valley, I didn’t even bother. I used to just dump my luggage, together with my valuables (money, documents, laptop), somewhere in or outside the house where I was staying (except of course, for my camera as I was constantly taking photos).

Facilities are obviously very basic. No running water, toilets are outdoor wooden cubicles (but with an enamel-eastern style toilet unit, rather than a wooden seat and a bowl of water to flush). I have already mentioned rats in my bedroom and overcrowded conditions in the note to an earlier upload. But the food we ate was freshly cooked rice and veg, very unlikely bacteria-breeding ground. We drank water delivered to the village in a tank like this one or tea made from that water. I only used chlorine tablets when filling my water bottle from mountain streams, just in case.

And one big advantage of being a female traveler… I was allowed to help in the kitchen. Hence the number of photos of women doing their daily chores I have uploaded to this site.

In WS, two photos of “landscape with a lady in red”.

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Additional Photos by Kasia Nowak (kasianowak) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1614 W: 9 N: 3274] (16948)
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