Children in the Everest Region. Photograph by Jan Hoek
At the start of Daulaghiri Round trek, we are still at low altitude and the temperature is high, around 28 degrees. We pass small villages surrounded by green millet fields and are greeted regularly by children shouting Namasdééé. There is electricity in the main valley but the houses and agriculture is still very simple like hundreds of years ago and there is no road. This is classic Nepal, very scenic.
The third night we arrive on a square in the center of a village where we will set up a camp on the central playground of a school. I get there first, much before the other group members and look around. Jeroen and Luc, the two students, arrive and I notice a bundle of pointy green leaves hanging on their rucksack. They found marihuana. They are enthusiast about the find and were shown the spot along the trail by a local. The happily collected some to try out and sound like experts.
Getting inspiration and after taking off the sweaty boots, I start making notes on my PDA. I now get used to that within minutes I have many children around me, all looking at my small silvery pocket computer and whispering guesses what I may be doing. This seems more interesting than our three large, blond white girls that normally get most attention.
After 10 minutes and being totally enclosed starting to smell the dirty clothes of a few of them, I get fed up with the attention. I tell them to come even closer and to watch the screen carefully. I start up a simple program called the Palma Sutra with 10 black and white drawings. The first picture has an immediate effect.
PDA with the program Palma Sutra
There is a loud cry, “waaaah!!!”, and they disperse in all directions while laughing loudly and pointing at me. They keep on talking for a little keeping a distance and finally disappear sensing they shouldn't stay here or to tell the news at home.
I get comments from the other group members on showing dirty pictures to children and suggest I may get in trouble with the village chief but they all agree, this worked to shake them off.
Nepalese children in the mountains always follow white tourists and find us exotic. You wonder is who gets the most out of the watching, them or us.