‘I was working here in Durbar Square, standing right over there, when it all started. Within minutes I was the only one alive’, says our guide, pointing to a pile of rubble that used to be one of the most beautiful and ancient temples of Kathmandu’s main historic quarter, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
That day, on 25 April 2015, the earth shook all over Nepal. The tremors of 8.1 in magnitude brought about unparalleled death and destruction. That day and during subsequent aftershocks, 9,000 people lost their lives, 22,000 were injured, and hundreds of thousands lost their homes and livelihoods.
Summer 2015. For the past eight months or so I had been working in my dream job in international development, travelling across Asia and Africa visiting agriculture and nutrition projects and learning about innovative approaches. And then one morning I got up and had to rush straight to the loo. Food poisoning, malaria, a bit of hangover from the night before? Or…?
That evening two lines on a pregnancy test proved beyond doubt that I was indeed pregnant. My husband and I were over the moon, as we’d been trying for a couple of years, we were in our mid thirties and the time was definitely right. But… What about my new adventurous life?
Last year took me on several trips to Asia and Africa, including less travelled places like Rwanda and Benin.
When I tracked mountain gorillas in the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda, walked the mountains of Tanzania, spent a few hectic days visiting markets of Addis Ababa, and toured Kampala in the rain, I was pregnant with my first child.
No, I’m not mad or particularly reckless. I’m aware of the risks – as my doctor said, staying on your sofa is much, much safer than travelling. I weigh the pros and cons and when I travel, I follow some basic rules that allow me to mitigate health risks in places where hygiene standards are lower than in most of the Western world, and where tropical diseases are prevalent. Continue reading
The taxi from Neral Junction, about 100 km from Mumbai, only takes us to a certain point up the hill, from where we can go no further by vehicle. The only option is by horse, man-drawn carriage or on foot.
We are heading for Matheran, a famous hill station, a popular place of holiday or weekend retreat for Mumbaikars. Continue reading
I spent the penultimate weekend of January at Kensington Olympia attending the massive annual Adventure Travel Show. It is essentially an exhibition where travel agencies large and small as well as tourism boards showcase their services, but what interested me most were the specials: talks, seminars and the Adventure Film Festival.
It’s a hot (are there any other?) day in Rishikesh, the ‘yoga capital of the world’, where I’m attending a yoga retreat. It’s been a few days already and I’ve settled into a little routine. The 5 am meditation sessions combined with blistering heat mean that the time between lunch and the afternoon yoga practice are devoted to napping. But when my roommate Renee asks ‘Do you want to go see the Beatles ashram this afternoon?’, I jump out of bed, even though I don’t have a clue what the Beatles ashram may be.