The pandemic year in HKH Part I – Escaping from Kathmandu

In 2020, during the worst of the pandemic, the situation in Kathmandu was getting worse and worse. Many people were getting sick, some were dying and there were rumors of a total lockdown. We were very worried and had to decide quickly what to do.
Hiking on the snowed paths

In March 2020 in Kathmandu, the news and videos of covid victims were all over day after day. The whole world was very worried; countries were shutting down the schools and enforcing lockdowns, and we were thinking what to do with the school and the children.

Decision time

We worried a lot about covid but even more about food shortages. It was getting quite hard already to get gas cylinders to cook and the food in the markets was getting less and less so we had an urgent meeting with our Team and asked Rinpoche to perform a Mo, which is a ritual of divination to seek advice about the future. The result was that if we didn’t leave in one day there would be many obstacles for us so we decided to leave immediately the next day.

Fleeing the Himalayas

We did little shopping in the morning  in the afternoon we left HKH Kathmandu by hiring a bus with the help of our kind donors. And so we began a long bus journey 4 days and night. We had to change buses two or three times on the way because of the bad state of the road and small bridge, and finally reached a place called Tripurakot.

Bad roads on the way
The town of Tripurakot
Hiding in Dunai

From Tripurakot we walked for one a day to Dunai the Headquarters of the Dolpo district. When we reach Dunai we found out that the lockdown had started on that day, all the small shops in Dunai were closed and we met lots of police and people asking us so many questions like how you came? How is possible you arrived a day before lockdown? Even some people told us not to come because you are all coming from Kathmandu so you must have viruses.

Dunai the capital of Dolpo

We hired a Hotel in Dunai and began to rest a bit after the long journey but soon after someone came and kicked us out because we came from Kathmandu where all the viruses were spreading according to the media. So with the help of Rinpoche, we could stay with one of his friends. We had to hide there but at least it was a normal and happy place much better than a hotel.

Covid check-points

We rested there for a day and on that night we found out that Dunai was going to seal the road and not let anybody in or out. We had to leave as soon as possible! I told all the children to prepare for our journey, best be ready tomorrow early in the morning. In case someone gets caught by police then tell them you are from upper Dolpo and we are going home, telling truth is the best way. We woke up around 2 am and left around 2:30 am after having some hot water and noodles.

Leaving Dunai
The long hike home

So we started our long hike home. Some children are very good hikers and some are very slow so I had to wait and wait, luckily my brother was helping me. I am a middle walker, not so fast.

Walking by the river from Dunai to Komang

We walked for many days, we would set camp at a place around 8 pm and get up at 5-6 am. Finally, after days of hard walking, some of the parents arrived with horses to pick us up. We still had to go through a very bad weather hike but at last, we could reach safely the side of the mountain near our village. We took a long rest there like 30min. It is so satisfying feeling that all the children and the team had finally arrived home safely, we were so happy and relieved, home sweet home!

Resting on the long hike to Komang
Finally arriving home safely in winter

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