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Nepal 2016 – Working the Rice Fields
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Hiking out to the ancient rice terraces for a hard day’s work

Nepal 2016 — Getting Down and Dirty on our Home Stay

By: the Amazing Grace

“Picking rice in the fields is a therapeutic process. First you pluck the rice from the mud, small clumps at a time, until you’ve gathered a small bushel. Then you plunge it into the water repeatedly, occasionally slapping it against the terrace wall to clean the roots of residual mud. Then you do that again, and again, and again until you’ve cleaned out at least 10 terraces because Nepali farmers don’t mess around. The work isn’t hard, but it is very repetitive and tiring.

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Close-up of the beautifully stunning (and very muddy!) terraces

The monsoon harvest is demanding, and I certainly wasn’t ready for it. However, I loved the feeling of the cool mud coating me up to my lower calves, the warm sun shining on my arched back, and the satisfaction of tying up a clean, fresh bushel of rice.

Next, we hurled it down a few terraces below us to transplant it. If you haven’t already planted rice for at least 5 years like everyone else I was working with in the fields, aside from my roommate Defne, you better get out of the rice fields. The Nepalese women plant rice at the speed of light. They filled five terraces in the time it took me to fill one, and even that one was barely finished.

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In addition to agricultural work, plenty of construction work has also been carried out during our stay

I have the utmost respect for the women in my host family. They do this monotonous farming work day in and day out, with no complaints, only hard work.

My 15-year-old host “aunt,” who will be attending college once the harvest is over, planted two terraces by herself in 20 minutes. I am in awe of and completely humbled by her ability to do this.
As for the other students, Cole and Gabe picked corn and carried it up to their house — like all the other Nepali farmers — with hand baskets. Jill and Taya handled grass from the rice fields to the yaks while battling major slippage. Merak was riding out a stomach bug, but Wilder provided him with some much needed brotherly support.

 

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The Nepali hand basket in action

Josh and Edward’s family decided to not work that day, which was a disappointment to them. The rest of the group, after a day of truly back-breaking work, is skeptical of their ‘disappointment’. However, we all thoroughly enjoyed the time we had spent with our families — and for all of us it will reman an unforgettable day.”

 

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