“Welcome to The Bubble!” That’s how Erica, my cousin Jason’s wife, greeted us as she opened the door to her four-story home on the north side of Kathmandu.

Things seemed different. Large rooms. Comfy furniture. Proper toilets. A huge kitchen and pantry filled with ingredients and dishes to make delicious food. Ahhhhhhh.

Jason works for the US State Department and has been at the embassy in Kathmandu for almost three years. The US considers Nepal to be a hardship placement and Jason has a fairly high rank within the department, so he and his family live in style. Their home has four bathrooms, a rooftop balcony, a guardhouse, and a gardener’s shed.

The only things that run on schedule in Kathmandu are the power outages, which are announced in advance. The lack of electricity is not an issue here, thanks to the generator located in the driveway. Gas and water are delivered every two weeks.

This is a bustling household, with a housekeeper/cook, gardener, and driver- plus regular visits from a security guard. A bubble, in contrast to the rest of noisy, dirty, rundown Kathmandu.

We are grateful to have called this our home for eight days. The luxuries have been nice… like ice! What has been especially pleasing is spending time with my long-lost cousin Jason, Erica, four-year old Leila, and their dog, Taji.

In The Bubble, Ken has been able to sit at a desk and work for hours at a time on the blog. And I have been able to cook up a storm. Everyone in the house loves to eat, so they have been delighted by me spending lots of time in their kitchen. Cookies, smoothies, pancakes, salads, bibimbap, stir-frys, oh my!

Of course with a four-year-old, play time is mandatory. We have enjoyed assembling LEGOs, reading books, playing dress-up, and learning through Jason and Leila’s Science Saturdays. Forget the generator- Leila may have enough energy to power the lights in her home!

Leila even offered to give a good home to Creamy, the Wisconsin State Fair cream puff who has traveled through nine countries with us.

With Jason to vouch for us, we got to venture inside the US Embassy and see our tax dollars at work. Sorry, no photos inside the compound, as the armed guards frown upon that sort of thing. Besides the diplomatic and political work going on here, the US offers aid to Nepal. Helping to rebuild historical monuments and providing medical supplies benefit Nepalis and build goodwill toward the US.

No photos allowed, so I can neither confirm nor deny that this is the wall around the US embassy.

Life inside the bubble came at the perfect time for us. Feeling a bit beat up after visiting India and still being bombarded by third-world problems, we were happy to soak in the comforts of home. Thanks to Jason, Erica, and Leila for sharing your bubble with us!

(And Taji too.)