Brenda T., AdventureWomen guest and 2019 Sweepstakes Winner, just returned from our Lodge-to-Lodge Low Altitude Trek in Nepal! We caught up with her to find out how she got the nickname “putali mam” and what about her trip continues to resonate with her weeks after returning home.
We started out by asking how Brenda first heard about AdventureWomen…
“A nursing friend of mine at the hospital where I work had been on several AdventureWomen trips and knew I was in need of a break. I’d been helping my sister take care of my mom, who is struggling with a chronic illness, and had just returned from Ohio when I saw one of your emails mentioning the survey/sweepstakes. Little did I realize that I would get another email telling me I had WON only a few days later!
It was like the universe taking a two-by-four and hitting me over the head saying “stop talking about it, just go do it!”
I had never been on a “women-only” trip before other than a bus tour and cruise that my mom and I took when she turned 76 — not really my thing, but I did it for mom. I was actually a bit hesitant about traveling with a women-only group (even though I am divorced and sure didn’t want to be the 3rd wheel on a trip with a bunch of couples), but what I discovered during my trip to Nepal turned me into a believer. It turned out that traveling with these women was so similar to the dynamics with my close friends in Richmond. Almost immediately, we formed these instantaneous bonds, discovered amazing connections, and supported each other when our muscles ached or one of us struggled with a sore knee. I keep remembering our guide Mekh and our porters encouraging each of us to just take our time. I realized finally that that was the point — to just relax and enjoy every moment.
I chose Nepal for my AdventureWomen trip because I really wanted to challenge myself, to push myself a bit out of my comfort zone…but I didn’t want to rough it so much that I felt too far out there. The comfort of going lodge-to-lodge was the deciding factor. I trained for the trip, biking 20 miles each weekend and climbing a LOT of stairs on top of my weekly power yoga classes. In the end, I was fine! The biggest challenge I found was just dealing with being at a higher altitude (even though we were in a part of Nepal at lower altitude!).
What I will remember most about Nepal is its amazing, 360-degree beauty, such as the landscapes, the welcoming villagers, and vibrant colors, from the prayer flags to the flowers. And there are flowers everywhere! From the poorest farmer’s garden to the palace gardens, from the rice fields to the marigolds that frame the views of the Annapurna mountains.
As my friends all know, I am really into birds. But what I fell in love with in Nepal were the butterflies. I was so interested in discovering and following them around that I earned the nickname “putali mam” (पुतली or butterfly woman) from our local guide Mekh. Ha! But what made our trip so extra special was Mekh. Without his detailed and compassionate understanding and explanations about local cultural traditions including the shifting role of the government and how this is impacting the lives of the Nepalese, we wouldn’t have fully appreciated where we were. We were able to meet so many different people in the villages we trekked through, from farmers and artisans to local leaders. Everyone in Nepal was just so welcoming. I left feeling like I was part of a bigger world — a member of a world community with a new appreciation of what holds us all together. When I got back to Richmond, I had a renewed sense of connection.
For me, this trip reframed what is really important in life.
And one last thing I just want to mention. Reflecting back on my trip, what AdventureWomen gave me was the confidence and security to go to a different part of the world and to know that I would be with a group of people who knew what they were doing. The smoothness of the operation once I hit the ground in Nepal was a perfect example. I felt completely pampered. Everything went according to plan — all the in-country flights and transportation arrangements, hotels, and so forth. Anything that I needed, if I had asked for it, I think they would have gone out of the way to make sure it happened. For that, and for this incredible experience in Nepal, I am eternally grateful to AdventureWomen.”