When a deadly earthquake hit Nepal in April, there were two Central Albertans on location, one attempting to climb Mount Everest, the other in a nearby village, they both had very different perspectives of this disaster. This is the second part of a two-part series on their experiences.
A sore leg diverted Beverly Williams from what likely would have been a deadly trek in Nepal a few days before the 7.8- magnitude earthquake struck that country on April 25.
Reflecting on her trip and the earthquake that killed more than 9,000 people and injured 23,000, the Red Deer business woman believed there was something else that stopped her in her tracks and kept both her and her guide safe.
“You know that kind of intuition thing that happens, it kind of says you can’t go any further. It was really, really, really weird,” said Williams who blinked back tears.
Williams and Har, the guide she hired, were early into a hike at Langtang National Park when a pulled leg muscle and apprehension eventually put an end to her trek.
“I sat on the rock and looked at Har and said I can’t go any further. It’s just not possible. He said, ‘Are you sure. Once you get up here it’s straight and it’s really good.’ But it was that intuition. Here I’m crying again. I haven’t cried for months,” said Williams as memories flooded back.
They turned back for a slow walk to a nearby town where they stayed a couple nights. When the earthquake struck, they were on the bus returning to Kathmadu.
She said if they had continued on their hike, the pair would have reached their destination, the town of Langtang which was devastated by the earthquake.
“The whole mountain came down, came on top of Langtang. I’d be under 350 feet of rubble.”
Williams was glad she listened to her intuition.
“You know how you don’t lots of times. But I ended up listening that time, and that’s what happened.”
Her luck continued on the bus when the earthquake hit. The bus rocked violently from side to side and dust filled the air, but everyone with her was safe amid the landslides, she said.
“There was a bunch of yelling. Then everyone got off the bus and there was kind of calm because we were fine there.”
Passengers on a bus a few kilometres ahead of hers was split in half by a boulder, killing three people.
After walking about six hours to a small village, Williams and Har spent the night in a local family’s cafe, periodically running outside when they felt aftershocks. Eventually they stayed outdoors.
She said she can’t forget hearing a man in the village wail upon finding his wife who died beneath rubble from the quake.
“I still can sort of hear that horrible scream.”
Amid the sadness, Williams said she also experienced how tragedy brings people closer together.
“(The cafe owner) said to me ‘You know what, now we have seven people in our family.’ He said ‘Me, my wife, my son, my two girls and you and your guide.’ He said we were ‘part of his family.’”
So Williams came back to Red Deer with both happy and sad stories.
When she got back to Kathmadu, she stayed in a Red Cross tent in a school yard for two nights. When it was too windy, she slept in the school. But aftershocks continued.
“There were quite a few tremors. Even with this hurt leg, I could get up pretty fast, and get out the door.”
Williams was a seasoned traveller, but it was her first visit to Nepal where she was going to buy stock for her business Woollen Wonders.
She arrived April 17 for three weeks and decided to stay until she was scheduled to leave.
Without knowing the language, she couldn’t be much help during recovery efforts, she said.
“I did offer to stay and help and do something, but it didn’t work out.”
Williams decided to go on a trip she prebooked to Chitwan National Park, away from mountains. She went on to the city of Pokhara before returning to Kathmandu and back to Canada.
Shortly after Williams got back to Red Deer, her daughter told her about a 7.3-magnitude earthquake that hit Nepal on May 12.
“Later on that day, a truck went by my house and shook my house. I just started bawling. It didn’t affect when she was telling me, but the house shook. Didn’t need that,” Williams said.
During the summer, Williams collected money to help Har and was selling items at her booth at Parkland Mall over Christmas to continue to fundraise for her friend.
“He was so good and kind. Always making sure I was okay. He was just fabulous to me.”
Williams plans to return to Nepal in the spring.