One year ago, I wandered as a stranger in a strange land, a place with crumbling (or non-existent) infrastructure, limited communications facilities, a weak, fractious and divided government propped up by foreign aid... I was in Nepal (42% literacy rate, per capita income, $1200/year -- ie, about $3.30/day & a 40% unemployment rate). One one hand, perhaps these dismal figures should make one glad to live in the United States, however in light of recent events, it could also be argued that Vermont and Nepal have some unpleasant commonalities... we are getting poorer and more indebted every day. When will the true tipping point arrive?
Despite the poverty and craziness of Kathmandu, the rural parts of Nepal were very pretty and there is a tradition of hospitality there that does put my rather surly and reclusive more immediate neighbors to shame. Pictures from the trip are here (flickr) and there's a video here (vimeo) -- also search for 'Nepal' on this site to find some posts on the subject.