Our First Monsoon

11160257_10152930282848577_1082982074_nWritten by Benjamin Honeycutt

“With reckless abandon I leapt into the rain, and let the downpour wash me away.”

One never knows what to expect out of the days here. We had been preparing for a lazy Saturday, it had been a week since we arrived and we were all weary from the first days of our adventure.

Then Govinda asked if we wanted to accompany him to a festival, and let’s be real, there can be only one answer to that question (an emphatic YES).

The festival was located about 3 miles from Govinda’s home, and the weather was sweltering for every single step. I felt myself sweating from pores I didn’t know existed, and the ones I knew about poured out like a waterfall. The sun cast down an angry, scorching heat on every centimeter of exposed skin, determined to test the guarantee on the back of my sunscreen.

At the festival, we observed the people praying to the God Mahadev for heavy rains. Traditionally, Nepal’s monsoon season extends from June to September every year. During this time the country receives over 80% of its total rainfall for the entire year. Unfortunately for the people of southern Nepal, the monsoon season opted to be fashionably late this year, and it had been one of the hottest Junes in recent memory. We watched people reading scripture and giving sacrifices, and often those there would break out into song that they would sing into the skies.

At first I was concerned that we outsiders were standing on hallowed ground. None of us had a real idea about the customs and stood on the outskirts of the festivities. The pastor who organized the festival quickly alleviated these fears. He expressed how thrilled he was to see us all there, and explained much of the festival’s significance through Govinda. The conversation soon expanded into one about religion, through this I learned that those who practice Hinduism believe that followers of all faiths can reach salvation. Blown away, I bid the pastor farewell and explored the other areas of the festival.

In the same building, a group of students were taking a class through Nepal’s Red Cross program. The head of that session (a principal for 32 years) asked that we join. When we entered, over twenty high school students introduced themselves (their introductions were translated through Govinda), and revealed how passionate they were about public health for their entire country. Speaking with them was an honor that I will fondly look back upon after I return.

Once we left the class we were introduced to a ninety year old man who shared his secrets to a long and fulfilling life. His advice? Yoga, eating well, and being happy. Seems like I need to substitute morning McDonald’s for Yoga if I want to make it to ninety.

We walked to the festival in insufferable heat, and we walked out in a different season. The clouds had churned into uncertain skies, and gave off a wind that fluctuated from a hair dryer heat to an arctic cool breeze. The temperature descended by the moment, falling over thirty degrees from the day’s peak.

A clap of thunder ripped the lining of the skies, unleashing the monsoon upon the earth. My skin sticky with sweat and swollen with sunburns, the rainstorm was as welcome as a long-lost friend. With reckless abandon I leapt into the rain, and allowed the downpour to wash me away. After a week of sunburns, sweat and heat, the rains shocked my senses in an icy ecstasy.

Now thoroughly soaked and satisfied, I await the next adventure with open arms.