Lesley Magill, writer and photographer of the article
Seven years ago I traveled to the most foreign country I have ever visited. I was a stranger to it with no idea what to expect or how it would make me feel. I confess that on arrival at the chaotic airport and during the frenzied drive to the hotel, I wondered if I had made a mistake. I stayed for only three weeks yet seven years on I still feel a tug in my heart and sense of longing whenever I think of it. That foreign place made its way into my heart. That place is Nepal.
To hear of the devastating earthquakes, with implications that will last for years to come, was to worry and to grieve for those who have lost all, for those who must struggle on, and for those who must pull together to rebuild the unique nation. But rebuild it they will.
You don’t need to look far to see the resilience in the Nepalese people. Numerous live in remote villages accessible only by walking trails as narrow, rocky and steep as goat’s tracks. To get anything and everything to their villages it must be carried.
Sometimes a sturdy-footed animal can make the trip, other times a human has to carry the load. Seeing a stooped-over man carrying a solid wood dining table on his back up an endlessly steep, rocky, winding track for hours on end is a sight to behold, and one of many similar sights on any given day.
The Nepalese are hardworking and they have an honesty, generosity, happiness and simplicity (in the kindest of respects) that stays with you.
Whether working in a shop in the heart of the bustling city, guiding me safely along my trek, welcoming me into their homes or accommodating me in tea-houses in the highest passes of the Himalayas, the people made me feel very welcome and never failed to bring a smile to my face.
Visiting Nepal is about much more than ticking off the tourist attractions – simply being there is an experience in itself.
From the sites of the majestic mountains and crystal clear lakes to the chaotic sounds of the city, to the ancient history, deep-felt culture, wonderful people and more, Nepal is one of those unique destinations that can offer travellers a trip of a lifetime.
In a country that depends heavily on tourism, one of the simplest ways to help get them back on their feet is to let your feet do the walking.
Travel Nepal after the earthquake so that you bring new money into a country that needs it. You give people the chance to go back to work. You give businesses the chance to rebuild. You give a country the chance to show that its doors are open and that it will rise again.
Of course, be sure to do your research before travelling and book through a reputable agency that has a good handle on the most up to date information and advice. While there are damaged areas that should be avoided, many places including some of the main tourist attractions and regions remain intact, safe and as beautiful as before.
We work with the motto "Tourism for Development". Explore Himalaya Community Service Project was conceived to empower underprivileged segments of Nepal.