Week twelve marked the normalizing of a refreshing new routine of waking up at 5:30 or 6:00am, making a few cups of coffee (purchased from Himalayan Grace Coffee, where I used to spend my time) on the stove, reading a little bit, writing a few notes down about the week, and watching some YouTube videos to pass the mornings. Around 6:30am the host mother, Susmita, would come downstairs into the kitchen to start preparing breakfast. She became accustomed to my morning coffee habit, but at first said, “why do you drink this? It is a drug”.
Around 8:00 or 8:15am, everyone else would wake up, climb up to the dining table on the second floor, and silently chew their pancakes and slurp their tea until someone said “good morning”. Breakfast at this host home was either pancakes and mixed bean curry (my favorite), two scrambled eggs on bread, or puri (think of a thin shell in the shape of a bowl) and bean curry. Always served with Nepali black tea. At 9:15am all of the volunteers would make the 5 minute walk to the main road where our work van picked us up every morning. There at the van we would see our Nepali crew waiting for us.
Our new task at the school, since the classroom floors had been leveled, was to begin digging ditches along the classrooms for small brick rows. These rows would serve as the outside edge of a concrete sidewalk to be placed along the classrooms. Ditch digging, thankfully, was relatively easy in the Nepal soil because it was dry and it lacked roots and boulders to impede the shovels. The only difficult part was getting to the red clay underneath the top soil. This had to be rigorously loosened with a pickaxe before it could be unearthed. I enjoyed pickaxe duties. One of the newer volunteers, Adiel, and I became friends and motivated each other to work harder than the other so the work would get done faster. We became fairly competent in out brick-laying skills and the ability to build them extremely quick. But when we looked over at the brick walls the girls were laying, they always looked so much nicer.
The next week, once the ditches had been dug and the small barrier walls were in place, we filled the sidewalk area with concrete and smoothed it out. The only way we could make this process easy was to form a relay line. One pan of concrete at a time had to be passed from person to person until it reached the end, where it was dumped into place and the Nepali mason used a 2×4 and a trowel to smooth it evenly. We learned that this was the final week of our work on this school, and everything was coming to a close. My time in Nepal was really coming to an end, and I had not prepared for it to come so quickly.