It’s really strange to be sitting back in Canada and writing this, because it feels like yesterday that I was browsing these blog posts and trying to picture what exactly Nepal might feel like for myself. However, it does make me happy that someday someone else might read this and that it may make them feel a little less anxious about making the big decision to travel. Now that I’ve done it, deciding to travel to Nepal with VCD was one of the craziest and best decisions of my life and I’m so incredibly glad I took that terrifying first step of leaving home.
As a first time traveler and a generally nervous person, I arrived in Nepal extremely emotional and overwhelmed. Arriving in Kathmandu at 11 PM is quite the experience, and I really can’t even imagine trying to survive those first few nights without the help of Bicky and the gang. The way I was taken care of was so absolutely incredible and I think I speak for everyone when I say that the way that Bicky goes out of his way to make you feel comfortable is the best part of being part of the Lighthouse family.
After a few days of homesickness for Canada, Nepal started to feel like home, and on my 4th day, I was transported out to my placement. I expected to like Godawari, but at that time, I really had no clue the crazy extent to which I would fall in love with the village. Godawari was hands down one of the best experiences of my entire life; I can barely begin to explain how much love and respect I have for my host family, the school, and every single villager that opened up their home. I really wish I could somehow explain or show to others just how incredible things are once you get past that initial moment of fear and get into the zone, because once I let go of my own judgements, things just kept getting better and better. Being in the village was that point that really got me to look past my fear and open up to all of the incredible opportunities there were in Nepal, and I am so thankful for that.
Sadly, that time did have to come to an end, but luckily for me, Nepal had so much more to offer. Between the elephants of Chitwan and trekking along the Himalayas, everything was so well organized that all I really had to do was sit back and take it all in. Being able to personalize my trip so that on my 19th birthday I would wake up to the Himalayas was so amazing and so special, and that especially took the adventure travel from being just touring to so much more. Not to forget that I was even thrown a surprise birthday party at the Lighthouse (with cake and singing!!!), which had me basically speechless with excitement.
Each day at home has me getting closer and closer to coming back to Nepal and I cannot wait to spend that time with VCD again. It was one of the best things watching and hearing about how much VCD has been accomplishing in Nepal and I can’t even begin to imagine all of the wonderful things that are going to happen in the next few years. Not only is VCD absolutely outstanding at working with the community, but Bicky and the Lighthouse crew are also so amazing at the little things as well: organization, making sure I was comfortable, taking care of me when I was sick, always having something fun planned, and always feeding me the most incredible food. I don’t think that I can ever say thank you enough for giving me a home away from home.
I cannot wait to see you all again and THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart.
-Andrea Mackenzie Engele