So here we are, in the far western region of Nepal, without reliable electricity, convenience stores, or toilet paper. What now?
After a few days of figuring out logistics, we arranged to rent a room from a jovial local contractor, Chitman. His house, a half hour walk from the hospital, sits atop a ridge overlooking a sea of lush, green, terraced fields. Chitman and his extended family live here, along with a few cows, numerous goats, and an elusive cat (which we only know about due to the footprints it left in the recently plastered floors). At the end of the driveway is one of the most massive trees I’ve seen outside of Sequoia National Park, one of many great trees in the area that have been preserved, with a stone-reinforced platform surrounding it. People gather under such trees during celebrations, during hot afternoon hours, or in the evenings as they drink chiiya (tea). Another five minutes up the road is the Bayalpata Bazaar, where we have roti (flatbread), beans, and chiiya for dinner most nights.
A typical day begins with us getting up between six and seven and walking to the hospital. We get there while the temperature is still manageable (it gets dreadfully hot during the middle of the day), and eat a breakfast of roti and either vegetables or something similar to cream of wheat. The morning update meeting is at 8:45, after which everyone starts their daily tasks. At 9:30 I go on rounds with the doctors, who check the status of our inpatients, and teach me all sorts of medical tidbits. There is then usually some sort of meeting, and then I’m on my own, trying to figure out how to run a research program. Ryan has rapidly become known as the most prompt and reliable handyman at the hospital, and has developed quite a rapport with the hospital staff.
Around noon we return to the cafeteria for lunch, which generally consists of bhaat (rice) and curried vegetables. At this point, it is so oppressively hot that the act of walking back to the office seems like a serious undertaking. Thankfully we have a ceiling fan in the office that, when the electricity is working, makes life much more bearable. After a few more hours of emailing, having meetings, and learning first-hand the challenges of working in this type of setting, we walk back home in the pleasant evening air.