When I traveled to Nepal 12 years ago, I never dreamed I’d be taking small voluntourism groups to Nepal now. At the time, I was a recently divorced single-parent, had no time or money to travel. Fortunately, I did have a spiritual teacher who urged her students to go to where ever we felt pulled. She explained, that it didn’t matter if we knew why, something would unfold for us. Then, for some mysterious reason, after I read an article in Sports Illustrated (I never read Sports Illustrated, but happened to pick one up and opened it to a story about trekking in Nepal) I decided to go. This is one of those times, when I made a decision, set my intention and things fell into place allowing me to go to Nepal to trek in the Annapurna mountains for the first time in 2000. I thought it would be a once in a life time trip-I’ve been back to the region many times.
When I reflect on my experiences in Nepal, I understand that it has been a spiritual experience as well as a healing experience. Nepal, a spectacularly beautiful, exotic country in the Himalayan Mountain Range, is known for being a beacon on peace and harmony. One of the guides told me that Nepal is like a goat between a leopard (India) and a dragon (China). This range can only be described by using superlatives. It is the longest, highest and vastest chain of mountains in the world. The Nepalese believe that genies, demons, and gods live there, so do I. The Nepalese are the kindest and strongest people I know. In spite of being one the poorest countries in the world, they have what we want-peace and contentment.
A month after 9/11, I traveled to the Everest region. When we were near Everest we were invited to meet with one of the most revered Rimpoches in the region. The Rinpoche at Thyngboche is: The Venerable Ngawang Tenzing ZangpoIn Buddhism, a Rimpoche, is a highly respected teacher. We were invited to ask him a question. Sitting next to him. I asked, “What can we do to contribute to world peace?” He responded, “You can take a small part of Nepal
back to the states.” He explained that he and other Rimpoches from Nepal, Tibet, India, and Bhutan were meeting in Kathmandu in a few days to discuss how to bring peace to the world. Steve, our trek leader for that trip and my business partner for our voluntourism trips, told me that although he had been the region many times before 2001 and many times since, he has never received another invitation to meet with the Rimpoche. This was a rare time and unexpected opportunity.
Then, when I returned from Tibet in 2009, I had the idea to take small groups of people back to Nepal for voluntourism trips. I realize now that most people who travel to Nepal will experience peace internally. Many for the first time in their lives. Minds open more and visions expand. It is deeply rewarding for me to introduce people to Nepal to experience a deep cultural exchange, learn about the history, and make friends. Sometimes, they experience an energy that can transform them and other people. They learn what is important and true in life. Often, they change their priorities.
It was a treat to have Mozella in the group I took to Nepal last year. Our first night near the Annapurna Range, she asked me if the outline of the foothills we could see through the mist were the mountains. When I explained that they were foot hills, she said, “But they are so much higher than the mountains we have in Maryland.” The next morning at dawn we were blessed with a spectacular sunrise and a view of Annapurna South. We were like two girls, we were so excited. Being deeply moved, Mozella wrote a poem that morning. Then she read it to me, as we sat gazing at the mountain. I treasure that memory. Most people who visit Nepal continue to think about their experience and remember it for a very long time.