First, I would like to start by apologizing for the severe lack of updates on my trip so far. I ran into an unfortunate series of events that started with my old laptop crashing and ended with customs finally agreeing to release my replacement laptop four weeks after it arrived in Kathmandu. The good news is that I finally have a functioning laptop, and I will try to catch everyone up on trip as quickly as possible.
This trip marks the first time I have ever traveled over either ocean. In fact, the only other time I have ever traveled outside of the United States was a five day trip to Juarez, Mexico. This being the case, I have had a number of experiences so far that many of you who travel frequently will likely find amusing but were new learning experiences for me.
My arrival in Kathmandu had the possibility of getting my trip off to a rough start, but thankfully everything worked out. Before arriving I heard that there was a high chance of a city-wide strike called bandha that was intended to protest the lack of progress being made on the new constitution. These strikes have been known to shut down the entire city, including the roads, making travel nearly impossible. On top of this, my own inept packing had led to both my phone and my laptop batteries dying while I was in Doha (Lesson one: if you know that you will have a fourteen hour layover in a foreign airport, be sure to pack your outlet converter in your carry on rather than in the bag you will not see again until reaching your final destination). Luckily, there was no bandha, and I was met at the airport by a driver from the office who took me to my apartment.
So far living in Kathmandu has been a great experience, although it did take me a little while to get used to the time change (Lesson two: force yourself to sleep on the flight because trying to explore after having not slept for nearly two days can be a little rough). Once I was able to catch up on some sleep, I found that Kathmandu is a fun and interesting city with plenty to explore and plent to do. One of my favorite things to do is eat good food at good restaurants, and I have found no shortage of either. My favorite restaurant in my neighborhood is set in what appears to be the garden of an old house. Aside from great food, this restaurant also has a weekly jazz night that is always a lot of fun. I have found that I enjoy most of the food I have tried here, but I must admit that I do miss a good American cheeseburger form time to time. Kathmandu and the surrounding valley also offer a number of historic villages and temples, like the one mentioned above, that are easily accessible by either bus or taxi, although both of these can be terrifying at times. Most importantly I have found the people here to be extremely welcoming and helpful. This is especially true of the people I work with who have been tremendously helpful in finding a place to live, rescuing my laptop from customs, and suggesting places that I visit on the weekends.
I look forward to continuing to share my experiences with you, discuss some of the political developments since I arrived, and update you on my work with IDEA. I have a lot to share, and I hope to have everyone caught up soon.
Best wishes from Nepal.