The Adventures of Blue Bear

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Photo © Liesl Clark

There once was a time, not too long ago, when our children were very small but what some might call brave. They ventured (as they still do) each year to the other side of the planet, to the Himalayas, and those first years were precious because they didn’t know they were doing something special.

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Photo © Liesl Clark

They thought everyone travelled to the base of Mount Everest to live the good life.

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Their years spent over the winter months with our Sherpa family, Ang Temba and Yangin, in the village of Khunde at 12,600 feet, are among the happiest months of our lives. We had no distractions, committing our time to the children’s well-being up there, enjoying the simple pleasures of family company and the rhythms of Himalayan winter life. The life lessons the village taught us over the years are the reason why we’ve created this blog.

Finn Yakboy

Photo © Liesl Clark

One of those winters, we met Peter Olander, who volunteered to join us in Phortse, a village just a few hours beyond Khunde, where we established our second Magic Yeti Children’s Library in the Solu-Khumbu district of Nepal. Peter’s patience with the quixotic movements of our children on the trail, sometimes like herding cats, and his selfless dedication to the families of Phortse, humbled us deeply. He came to know how important a little bear named “Blue” was to our children’s movement up the trail. Blue Bear strapped himself in with 3-year-old Finn on every journey, whether it be by horse or the back of his Mom, Dad, or a dzopkyo (a cross between a cow and a yak.)

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Photo © Liesl Clark

We later learned of Peter’s talents as an artist and storyteller. Please join us in reading his book about Finn and Blue Bear. This tiny blue denim bear was a little boy’s purpose on the world’s highest mountain trails just a few years ago:

Peter caught the essence of the magic of the Khumbu, the mysticism, and a child’s imagination that can be sparked by books and stories about children like Finn and his intrepid bear. Peter is uploading the story page-by-page (it takes time) to his website, and his paintings are original works of beauty that we cherish deeply. Thank you, Peter, for this gift, and for capturing these moments that transcend time to a place and a people graced by the compassion of mountain deities.

Click this image to get to the story:

(Readers, please check back, on Peter’s website, to follow Blue Bear’s story!)

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Photo © Peter Athans

16 thoughts on “The Adventures of Blue Bear

  1. How extraordinary, my grandson has a different blue bear called Brian who has always been part of the family and accompanied him everywhere. He is all grubby and patched and skinny from loss of stuffing now and not quite up to so many adventures but remains an integral part of family life. I too loved writing stories for the grandchildren featuring them and their activities. Now they are older the stories make them smile. It is a good way of preserving their childhood as it fades in their memories. How wonderful for your son to have a ‘real’ book all about him and his best friend ☺️

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    • We feel so fortunate to have this memory and Pete’s beautiful paintings to commemorate a time and place so near to our hearts. I hope children in Nepal will be able to read Blue Bear’s story, if we can get more computers up to the Magic Yeti Libraries, because so much of their culture is reflected in the pages. There are not very many books about Sherpa daily life, and certainly even fewer children’s books. We’ll keep trying!

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  2. I just watched the video, my heart was melted but also in my mouth part of the time! You were very brave keeping the camera rolling while your son is teetering on the edge of a mountain track! It’s a beautiful video made more poignant and compelling by your son’s narration. We can read about places like Nepal, the people, their hardship and character, but seeing them makes them real and watching family life brings home how alike we all are. What a wonderful experience for your children. These are truly priceless memories. I feel privileged to have been able to witness the beauty and strength of the people and their surroundings and to see it all through a child’s eyes makes you ask the inevitable question: why can’t it always be like this? You have affected me a great deal. I feel like I can be involved. Thank you 💕

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    • Thank you so very much for watching, Chris! These were little moments of home video that got strung together and then Finn talked to me in interview-style about the experiences and I was able to cobble a sort of narrative together from him. Hearing his little boy voice, now, brings tears. The earnestness in our little ones as they go through life’s first experiences is priceless. So glad you had a moment to watch the little Blue Bear movie.

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      • We like adventures! The brother of my daughter-in-law spent several years recently travelling through Central and South America on horseback volunteering and raising awareness for orphanages and special needs schools along the way. I have reblogged his final post http://wp.me/p6UDky-9S and I have sent your link to him and other members of the family. My grand-daughter has also just returned from a few months in rural Peru teaching and learning textile techniques. As you can see, I do my travelling vicariously!

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  3. Reblogged this on pearsnotparsnipsdotcom and commented:
    Your heart will melt watching and listening to this 3 year old American boy trekking with his Blue Bear in Nepal, learning about life in the Himalayas, making friends, cooking, carrying water, and helping his family set up children’s libraries in rural communities. He is learning and experiencing real life, a gift more valuable than images from a tv screen or tablet.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for this post and the story of Blue Bear. We have a similar story – we took our two sons to Nepal when they were four and two and our daughter was born there. We lived there for 10 years wonderful years and still feel Nepal is our real home. We went on a 9 day trek from Jomsom to Pokhara when we first arrived in Nepal – our boys were four and two and I was 5 months pregnant with our daughter. Our oldest had a bear – Chuckie Bear – who had similar adventures as we walked each day. I wish I had written his stories down. I look forward to the continuation of Blue Bear’s adventures. My then four year old is now 39 with children of his own and was thrilled to return last year after the earthquake to build a temporary school in Gorkha District. Now he is raising funds to build a more permanent school . I’ll send him the link. I know he will want to share The Adventures of Blue Bear with his children.

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    • Thank you, Suzanne, for sharing this with your children and grand children. Your journey from Jomsom to Pokhara, at that time, must’ve been so beautiful. We’ve walked it a few times, Beni to Upper Mustang, with our children, but with a road there now, things have definitely changed. You’re so lucky to have lived in Nepal then. And please thank your son for all he’s doing. We can’t do enough there. There’s so much need, but we’re excited to see so many inspirational stories, like yours, and how families connect sustainably with fellow families in Nepal to try to create a long-lasting model of self-sustaining projects in the Himalaya.

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    • Thanks for replying. We have been so fortunate to have know Nepal in it’s more pristine days and before extensive roads. Our family connections to Nepal go way back. My husband went to Nepal with his parents when he was 5 years old in 1952 when Nepal was opening up to foreigners. His father was a doctor and was invited to start a hospital in Tansen, Palpa District. My husband grew up in Tansen (and India where he went to boarding school and where we met in 3rd. grade) until he came to the US for university at age 18. We then went to Nepal with our young family. My husband remembers the days when it was rare to see another foreigner on the trails and streets. In fact he had a hard time sharing “his Nepal” with other foreigners! We went on a memorable trek up to Pangboche with our family and remember Kunde well. We are always looking for ways to return to Nepal and hope one day to take a 3 generation family trip back to introduce Nepal to our grandchildren.

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  5. Pingback: The Adventures of Blue Bear | ELLIS NELSON BOOKS

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