The uphill climb seemed endless. The trails were quite scary in places, with earth debris and narrow, slippery spots. Below was a steep, rocky slope and a roaring river. I was already panting when I came across the landslide. Local people said that you should look up and run when passing through a landslide, to avoid being hit by falling rocks. I’m not sure if that’s logical, or if it works, but I started to run. Fortunately, I ran passed the landslide without being hit by rocks or falling down the steep hill. But I was totally out of breath, and it took a while before I started breathing easily again.

One night, I slept in the same room as three generations of a family – grandparents, husband and wife, and small children, including a baby. They had built a temporary shelter using metal sheets salvaged from their old house, and a wooden frame. It was a single long room, with a cooking space on one side, grain storage on the other side, and utensils and clothing lying all over the room. The sleeping space was near the kitchen, and the smoke was almost suffocating. A dog slept near me – it smelt terrible! And the baby cried all night long. You could also hear huge boulders falling from a nearby landslide, making a noise like bombs being dropped from an airplane.

Using the open forest as a toilet is a nerve-wracking experience. You have to constantly watch for others who could be coming in the same direction for the same purpose.

And the leeches…!

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