It is a pious wish to meet people when traveling, but in the end, it is often the case that one meets mainly the other travelers, in the hotels and the restaurants that one frequents or excursion. It is not always easy to get in touch with the "locals", either because we are intimidated, because we do not speak the local language, or because our activities keep us in tourist areas.
A good way to get in touch with culture and people is by hiring a local guide rather than negotiating with a Quebec or Canadian agency. This is what we did during a trip to Nepal, when we walked in the Himalayas accompanied by Dhan, our Nepalese guide.
From the first day, when we met him in the garden of our hotel, we felt we had hooked atoms. We spent the long days walking to discuss all kinds of subjects, from the Nepalese monarchy to the living conditions of Nepalese children. In this way, we have gained a better understanding of the situations we faced rather than having to be content with a quick judgment based on observation alone. It also allowed us to make the important distinction between poverty and the picturesque. We were touched by the fact that Dhan had to leave his family for many months to go and live in Kathmandu, to guide groups and thus earn a living. He wondered about this decision to come to work in the city, which made him earn more pennies with his work as a guide but also caused expenses because in town you have to pay for everything, housing, food, while in his village Native, he had built his house, raised animals and cultivated the land. To return home, it took 8 hours of bus and 2 days of walking, a luxury that he could not often afford. He missed his wife and children, of whom he had often spoken. Dhan opened his heart with authenticity. Curious, open, he asked us many questions about our living conditions, our jobs, wanted to know our opinion. Today, with easier access to the internet and cellular networks, everyone has access to the same images of a lifestyle that seems "ideal" and makes them more painfully aware of his own difficult situation. Dhan introduced us friends, he was our translator allowing us to easily get in touch with other Nepalese.
We loved our trip to Nepal, because it is a beautiful country. But if we have kept such a keen memory of an endearing people, if the Nepalese have remained in our hearts for all this time, it is because we met Dhan, who allowed us to become aware of the similarity of our concerns and human aspirations despite the staggering and revolting gap in our living conditions.
A little video to get to know Dhan.