Saturday, 6 February 2016

The PINK SOFA meets Jo Carroll

There are some people in this world to whom the word 'special' seems to adhere like sticky bits of sellotape to the edges of kitchen tables. Jo is one of these people. Traveller, raconteur, writer, supporter and friend of others, she sets off on her own to see amazing and far-flung bits of the world and then shares her experiences with the rest of us. Recently, Jo has become a drum-beater for the plight of people in Nepal, and together with one of her good friends out there, has been fund-raising to build houses for those stricken by last year's earthquakes.

''I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t fascinated by the idea of Nepal – I first climbed Snowdon when I was eight, and I’ve been enthralled by mountains ever since. And Nepal has magnificent mountains!

When I was struggling with a PhD, I decided that if I ever finished the wretched thing, I’d go to Nepal. My first visit was in 2002, with a tour group – and that’s when I first met Tika. So when I gave up work to buy a rucksack and go round the world, it made sense to contact him and ask him to travel with me for a few weeks while I got the hang on independent travel in South Asia. We had five weeks together, travelling from the mayhem of Kathmandu to the mayhem of New Delhi, via mountains and temples (and a man with a gun in Lucknow). He began as my guide, but after all that we were close friends.

So back I went, a few years ago, and he arranged for me to visit more remote parts of Nepal, collapsing with laughter at my encounters with cyclones and tigers, and somehow keeping me safe in spite of it all.

I was appalled by the earthquake. I had so many friends in the country by then, and the thought of them surviving the monsoon in tents was almost too difficult to think about. Even so, I was reluctant to visit too soon. They had enough to do without looking after me. But Tika was there, at the end of countless emails, insisting that they wanted to see me.

How right he was. We’ve all seen photographs of the trauma of the earthquake. But few journalists have returned to record the rebuilding. Yet in a country with an economy that is dependent on tourism the lack of visitors has been as devastating as any earthquake damage. The hotels, the restaurants, the mountains, the Nepali welcome – they are all still there. But without tourists those working in the industry are suffering.

As I write this, the situation is made even more difficult by India’s blockade of Nepal’s southern border. It’s a complicated story, but seems to be India having a hissy fit that Nepal has dared to initiate a new constitution without consulting her big sister. It is also contrary to international law as Nepal is a landlocked country and all her imports need to pass through India. It means that there are shortages of fuel, cooking gas, and some foodstuffs.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, by the time you read this, the blockade is over!!

Jo's book can be bought here
I’ve written a book about this last trip: After the Earthquake. I wrote it partly because I wanted to remind everyone what a wonderful place Nepal is, with its mountains and rivers and crocodiles (oh yes, there was a crocodile …). Partly because I met some extraordinary people: Bishwo and his plans for self-sufficiency in the mountains, Ajay and his wonderful food, the kindness of Tika and Shobha in spite of all their hardships. Partly because the crocodile made such a good story …

And partly to raise money to rebuild just one of the many homes that has fallen down. It’s easy to be overwhelmed in Nepal, and end up doing nothing. But it is possible to rebuild one house – to give one family a secure place to live. Every penny of profit from this book goes to them. Maybe one day it will be in print, but for now it’s an ebook – it’s short and so uneconomic to print.''

Find out all about Jo's travels here: 

Or there’s always Twitter: @jomcarroll

And if Jo's story has inspired YOU to help rebuild the house in Nepal, here's the link for donations:


  1. A lovely post and so Jo! Of course she is off travelling again right now too, but I hope the book continues to sell while she's away!

    1. Thanks Val - and it is still selling, partly due to the lovely efforts of people like you and Carol.

  2. I'd just like to say that, worthy cause aside, this book is extremely enjoyable, I loved it! I've read all Jo's travel books and recommend them most highly :)

    1. Thanks, Terry - so glad you enjoy them.

  3. Many, many thanks for making me so welcome on your sofa, Carol.

  4. I love Jo's books. I watched a to programme about someone else walking through Nepal after the earthquake and during the blockade,it was exactly how Jo described it in her book. I think Jo is gutsy and brave and I'm in awe of her.

    1. Thank you, Anna. Though no need for awe, I do it cos I love it!


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