Leaving Choutara to the Sindhupalchowk District
In the morning, we took a short walk uphill to the health center which was still standing but did not look stable enough to work in, that is why the Norwegian Red Cross is setting up a mobile hospital here. Our Team Leader had to search out some officials to ask about the needs in the regions we were heading. Some of us went in search of water and other food supplies. The village of Choutara sustained some damage but business of selling and buying was still going on. When we came back, half of our tents were dismantled, we were to decamp immediately heading somewhat north-east towards the Chinese border.
The road we traveled on was narrow and winding, plunging into a ravine or deep valley on one side and steep overhanging rocky cliffs on the other.The earthquake had loosened rocks and sometimes gigantic boulders, some unfortunately crushing the houses below and we saw three unfortunate vehicles bearing the brunt of the falling boulders.Many villages were decimated, occupants mounting the rubble searching for usable materials to rebuild or personal belongings.Many sat along the roadside looking lost and in despair.The Chinese who are building a hydroelectric power plant here had efficiently bulldozed the rocky debris and opened up the road to at least allow a vehicle to pass through.
In one of the villages truck delivered bags of rice which the villagers hauled the heavy loads over their backs and began to ascend the steep mountain slopes towards homes. As we drove through a village a man threw a rock at the second vehicle making a deep dent near the roof. We in the third backed off from the group of villagers not knowing whether they would be throwing rocks at us as well. My instinct as are most security protocols was to drive quickly on without stopping. However our driver and interpreter, both Nepalese, felt it best to stop. We lowered our windows and after a few minutes of conversation, we learned that the villager who threw the rock was frustrated that no one would stop to transport a relative of his to another village. Our driver explained to him that we were here to do medical relief and he let us pass without further incident.
It took us about 4 hours driving over road strewn with rocky debris to finally reach a point on the road that we were told we could not go any further in the vehicles. We were just 6 km from the Chinese border. While waiting there an aftershock came and we could feel the rumble beneath our vehicle, we just prayed that no boulders broke loose form the cliff next to which we were parked. It would be a one and a half hour hike up the mountain to reach Fulpinkitta where we were told there had been no medical aid since the earthquake struck. Since it was almost three o’clock in the afternoon, our leader decided that it would be unsafe to attempt the hike there and back not knowing whether the estimation for the duration of the hike was any accurate. So we headed back to find accommodation for the night. On the way we passed “The Last Resort”, the name seemed a little too ominous.
We spent the night camping on the ground of Borderlands, a resort for people doing extreme sports. A rushing river filled with boulders ran by the ground where now in the tourist season would be filled with kayakers but was empty. The resort suffered some damage but no tourists were around. It was great sleeping next to the sounds of a rushing stream. The moon shone brightly on the ground. There were no signals even with satellite phones so our leader was not able to get more information regarding Fulpinkitta, we would just have to wait till daybreak.