Well, I'm back in Chitwan. Not doing very much with regard to the lodge, I have to admit, apart from tweaking the website and adding pictures to it etc. But Bhakta and Krishna know what they're doing and as I would only be in the way it's better that they get on with it and leave me to do the stuff I can do. At the moment I'm designing a banner for an elephant (as you do). There are going to be elephant races in Chitwan from 25th-27th December (or thereabouts) and Eco Wildlife Lodge is taking part even though we aren't open yet. So we need banners for the elephant to advertise ourselves. Unfortunately I won't be here to see them, but if any of you are in the area I'm sure it will be fun.
At the moment I'm sitting on my verandah typing this before going into Sauraha to upload it. It's very peaceful staying here at the Parkland Hotel - lovely gardens and a nice neighbour. My neighbour comes and goes very quietly - she's often up and out way before I am and I never hear her come or go. This is quite surprising as my room is next to the elephant stable and it always amazes me that for such large animals they move so quietly. When Jill and I were walking back a couple of days ago we heard footsteps behind us as though someone was running, and when we turned round, there was an elephant looming up behind us. So we stood aside and let it get past. I don't think it would have run us over, but neither of us were prepared to take the chance.
As for the progress of the lodge, well it's going well in parts. The rooms are now plastered and have roofs on, and the dining hall now has walls and is about to be plastered. But there's so much building going on that sometimes it's hard to get people to work. We had plasterers for a day, but then they decided they couldn't come again for five days (another job perhaps or a festival? Does this sound familiar?) so the plastering is on hold at the moment. But all the faffing around with them meant that Krishna and Bhakta couldn't go to Dumre for the slate for the bathrooms so that's still waiting to be done too. And, as a side event, there was a transport strike all day on Sunday, so no traffic could move anywhere, and there has been (still is?) a strike of the oil corporation so there have been petrol shortages. It's amazing how much ringing round goes on just to get a few litres of petrol. There is going to be a general strike starting on the day I leave (20th December) for three days, so, if the worst comes to the worst, I may have to set out before it starts (usually 9am) and spend the day at the airport as my flight doesn't leave until 9 at night (oh joy!).
So I have precisely 12 days left until I leave. It's difficult to say exactly what I've achieved during the last 3 months, but the time certainly does seem to have gone all too quickly as usual. I'm still trying to work out whether or not I can get back here for the opening of the lodge (whenever that may be), given the need to work for a living. I'd really like to as it will be an opportunity to see it all completed, and to thank all the friends who've helped us on the way (there's going to be a barbecue and drinks), and invite agencies to see it etc etc.
Well, I think that's all for now. Take care of yourselves.
Lots of love,