April 25, 2015, is a day that has changed my life, immensely.
I had planned the trip of my dreams to visit the land I had wanted to visit since I was a child. It was going to be amazing. My goal was to visit the birthplace of Buddha, to see the one horned rhino, and to explore a land of great wonder.
I had boarded the plan from Portland, Oregon to Vancouver BC with so much anticipation. My excitement for every aspect of the trip was huge. When I arrived in Vancouver, I was anticipating a long trip and yet was so excited to see everything. Even a can on tomato juice was something to behold for me. I'm easily amused.
I arrived in China to transfer for my next flight. Although I had already had a 14 hour flight I was still not all that exhausted. I needed to wait for a short time in the airport, but I was ready to get to my destination. I would like to make a plug for China Southern Airlines by the way. They are awesome and feed you well.
Another 5 hour flight to Kathmandu.
I wish I could have gotten photos of the flight because as we came closer to flying over the Himalaya, the electric storms became unreal. It is sort of frightening to be in the clouds and see such light displays.
Finally, I arrived at 15 min till midnight there, on the 24th. I needed to go through the regular checks and get my bag. Afterward, I found a cab driver to take me to my hotel. Man, was this an experience. My heart was racing from the anticipation, as well as the fear of being unable to communicate what I needed. Luckily, things when somewhat well. It turned out that finding the exact place was hard but the neighborhood was not.
I wandered around in the dark for a little bit, but found a sign to directed me to my hotel, ROKPA guest house.
After getting a hold of someone who I can only assume was asleep, I finally got my room and went to bed.
I slept for about 4 hours and when I woke at about 6 am to the sounds of birds and the smell of incense. I jumped out of bed and rushed to Boudhanath Stupa. I was greeted with the greatest sight that any traveler could imagine. People of all walks of life, walking around, talking, interacting with each other. The sounds of chanting and the sweet smell of incense flowing through the air. It was heaven to me. I wandered around for about an hour or so, and then thought about getting some breakfast. I had a modest breakfast and the most awesome milk tea ever. I felt so great, this was already the best trip I could have ever taken, nothing would top this experience.
After eating and taking care of my official check in. My loose plans were to take it easy and get acclimated to the climate and the location. So I thought, I would wander about and see the local area. The location was something beyond description. Poverty is high and the lack of civil services allows for a westerners nightmare. However, the atmosphere being a little dirty still didn't detract from the lovely colors and character of the people.
I walked around for around 4 hours and saw some great things.
When I began to be a little hungry, I walked back toward ROKPA which led me through the heart of the commerce area of Boudhanath, as I came to the road that led to my place, It began.
At first, It seemed like just a strange situation, like a train rolling through. But, it was worse. The earth moved like a surfer on Jello. Everything swayed uncontrollably. People everywhere screamed and ran. I reacted in the way that my body and mind wanted to and ducked under a door. I was calm at that point. I wish I could capture that calmness now.
I saw two younger monks looking for shelter, and I grabbed them and sheltered them from anything that could fall on them. Then the rumbling subsided. I walked back to the hotel at a brisk pace to find everyone else was out in the courtyard. I then started to find the fear creeping in.
I became so worried and frozen. Writing this even brings up the horrible memory of what I felt. I knelt on the ground with my palms down to the grass just begging the earth to spare all of us. I could barely contain my tears.
After the quakes seemed to die off, a friend I made in the courtyard just an hour after the quake, and I wandered to see if there was any assistance that we could render. I have no medical training so I needed his help to be able to assure that I was doing the right thing. The destruction I was was hardly a nightmare, it was hell.
I became frozen. This was only 13 hours since I had arrived to see the place of my dreams. This was supposed to be my trip of a lifetime. And the world fell apart.
I am not a reporter. I am a filmmaker but, this stirs up the PTSD in me. Hopefully I can return to this and tell a better story about the experience. But, I need to break away from it.