Though it wasn’t the trip they envisioned, Alex and Tricia McLeod are safe in Nepal as they have moved from a small rural community to the national capital of Kathmandu.
Following extensive damage to the country’s infrastructure due to a massive earthquake a week ago, the McLeods had stayed in rural parts of the country before reaching Kathmandu on Monday.
They aren’t in any particular hurry to get home, and have been helping out wherever they can.
The couple had been helping clear debris at a hospital in Lukla and also trekked up to Namche Baazar. From Namche, they headed to the national capital on Monday.
Right after the earthquake last week, Pema, their sherpa was hit by a collapsing brick in a teahouse while protecting Tricia with his body.
They were able to get him to a hospital and checked out before heading up to a small village a few kilometres away.
There was an aftershock early in the morning, and Pema went and slept outside and caught a cold. The next morning, the McLeods hiked up to Namche with Pema, who got really sick en route.
“We got him here, we took a day off, rested him, filled him with some drugs and antibiotics and he seemed to be coming back to life,” said Alex McLeod, “He’s a very hardy man.”
They’ve made contact with service clubs in the country and plan to stay for another week or so, doing whatever they can in Kathmandu to help out.
It wouldn’t be that much different from what they were doing in Lukla, as they helped clear debris at a hospital.
“Working at the hospital each day, the tiny little bit we were helping, at least it felt like you were making positive forward motion,” Alex said.
“…The hospital we worked on at Lukla—from 100 yards back, you wouldn’t think it’d been hit—but when you got into it and looked around, it looked pretty bad.
But when you talk to the engineers, they said 80 per cent of everything has to be pulled down, because when it’s brick and the lower bricks start shifting out by a foot, you’re pretty much done.”
McLeod said it’s tough for people in the rural mountainous areas to rebuild as so much has to be packed in by foot or on the backs of animals. While people try to rebuild their homes and their lives, there are also efforts underway to repair hiking and trekking trails—a major plank of the Nepali economy.
The danger of aftershocks have largely passed, but there’s a long road to recovery, added McLeod.
“For the locals, it’s a matter of starting to rebuild. These are the most resilient people I’ve ever seen.”