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First Day in Kathmandu

The only thing certain about international travel is, there ain't nothin' certain. We made it through the maze. PBI on JetBlue to JFK, I was told to put my laptop in my carry-on. We checked-in 6 bags packed with pipe, brass fittings, steel cable, electronics, tools, etc. The flight to JFK was no problem. At JFK, we had 2 hours to recheck-in at Emirates. We were told our carry-ons were too heavy, so we took out the essentials and our carry-on bags went through as check-in bags (at no extra charge, thank goodness!). After 3 security checkpoints, we were on the giant, double-decker Airbus 380. It was a good flight from JFK to DBX (Dubai, UAE). Cordella and I had an empty seat next to us so we were able to stretch out a bit. There were interesting daytime views as we flew over Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Emirates avoided flying over Iraq and Afghanistan this time. Our 2.5 hour layover in Dubai was JUST ENOUGH time to make it from one side of the airport to the other, and to wolf down some food. Rick and Madhav had McDonalds's, Cordella went for the local food. Our flyDubai flight from DBX (Dubai) to KTM (Kathmandu) was fine, a bit cramped like another airline I won't mention, but otherwise fine. Arrival in Nepal was on-time exactly but...bad news. Four of our bags got held up in Dubai and they didn't make the flight. However, they were put on the next flight and arrived in Nepal the next morning (today). We were so happy to see everything made it. We have so many strange things packed that we're sure our bags could be used as part of a TSA training class. The hotel is really nice -- Apsara Boutique Hotel. It's closer to the center of the business district than where we stayed last year. The weather is clear and cool (73 deg.F). Breakfast was good and now we are heading out to buy all our supplies: pipe, PVC glue, shovels, electrical switch, spray paint, etc.

From our hotel we walked a few blocks, The sidewalks are narrow, and the curbs are high - some considerably higher than others. Traffic kind of flows like a stream. Every now and then, a bicycle cart hauling pipe or a load of snacks comes rolling down the street and the cars just flow around it. People walk off the curb constantly and meander across the traffic like a ducks in a stream. People, cars, trucks, bicycles, motorcycles, motorscooters, carts, dogs, cows, and buses come and go, weaving in and out of traffic, and everyone reacts calmly. We got used to just stepping out into traffic and walking slowly while the cars, trucks, motorscooters, buses, and other people avoided us. FUN.

We were looking for electrical parts and pipe. It's customary for a shopkeeper to pretend they have what you are looking for. They show you the closest thing they have and then they send someone down to the next shop to see if they can bring it back on consignment. It was very kind of them but it was also maddening to waste so much time at a paint store that wanted to pretend they sold the pipe we needed. We got used to it after a while. We managed to find a few things or something close to it. No acetone but, at a pharmacy, we purchased nailpolish remover - Steve's old stand-by. We found electrical tape, PVC cement, and cement bonding compound to mount the plaques for Eric and Barbara. We came to the conclusion we were shopping in the wrong part of town so we went back to the room for a quick rest. I had my first beer and a chocolate bar. Cordella always brings a good supply of chocolate when we travel. Madhav called our room and told us Prasant, our friend from last year, was at the hotel to see us. We caught up on things, went over the details of our luggage escapade and then he offered to take us to a pipe factory run by one of his friends. The streets were full of police on special duty because the new Congress was holding a public forum and they thought people might protest. Some of the roads were closed so we had to take the long way around. We arrived in an industrial section of the city where there were factories and shops making all kinds of things. Then we pulled into the yard of Hisi Pipe Company. Very exciting! They've been making HDPE pipe for 24 years. They gave us a tour of their operation. We saw the raw material, the extruders, the rollers, labeling, and the storage warehouse. They had what we needed. We will broker a deal after tomorrow; we need to get a better approximation of how much pipe we need. They were very proud of their business and anxious to help us after they heard about our project.
After seeing everything and taking video, they sent us down the road to a shop where they hand make fittings. Prasant had to go back to work for a 3:30PM meeting. So we said goodbye and sat for about 45 minutes while 3 men worked cutting, heating, and shaping the plastic pipe into custom fittings for our ram pump (there will be a photo link here). The men hand shaped two large cylinders fitted to threaded PVC fittings we brought with us. It was really interesting watching them work - like being in an old western blacksmith shop. All for $12. When they finished, we caught a taxi back to the hotel with our unusual-looking black pipe and PVC fittings. At the hotel, the staff wanted to know what it was. They realized shortly after we arrived we were going to be interesting guests - starting with our missing and then recovered luggage.
We had about 1 hour to clean up and then Dr. Joshi, from the Institute of Engineering, Tribhuvan University of Nepal, came to pick us up. Dr. Joshi is the brother of Sunita's husband. Sunita is our banker and she received our pump we sent via FedEx. He husband is the chief hydrologist for the Nepali government. Dr. Johsi took us to Sunita's house where she was waiting and had prepared dinner for us. We arrived just at sunset and were excited to get caught up on the past year. Unfortunately, her husband Kamal was away on business in Australia but we hope to see him our last day before we head back to the USA. Sunita fixed a large table of delicious appetizers which I thought was the main course for dinner. After eating, we installed the BloomSky weather station on the rooftop patio of her house. Check it out on www.bloomsky.com, it's the first weather station of its kind in Nepal. Everyone was so excited to see it working and immediately wanted to know all the details on the weather data. It was 73 Deg.F. , 61% humidity, no wind. After picking the best spot we went back inside and had dinner. Another full meal complete with King Yogurt (ju ju) for dessert. After dinner, Sunita brought out the pump. It was such an ordeal for her to receive it from Customs for us - we could not have done it without her. It took hours, paperwork, customs inspection, import duty ($160) and just when she thought it was done, she discovered the package weighed 36 lbs. and she needed help getting it to her car. What a thrill to see our pump in Nepal, all intact, wired, and ready to go.
After saying our goodbyes Dr. Joshi and his wife drove us back to our hotel. We are completely exhausted. We think we had 3 hours sleep in the past 3 days and a few short naps. Hot showers, a bottle of water and we are ready for a well deserved rest. We will be leaving the hotel at 6:30AM tomorrow heading for Kabilash and out new project site in Aapchour. It will be a very long day tomorrow. It's 12:22AM and we're done for today. More tomorrow...

UPDATED: 2017-06-17 18:52:04