We're here! It's already been an adventure and a half. As dad would say, "This is the REAL India." There are no tourists here. People openly stare at us because we're white. It's strange.
Okay. I don't have much time to post, so I'll start with the beginning and see how far I get.
June 19th: After an emergency trip to the Olsens at 7am to take one last "real" shower because we were out of hot water, Tyler took us to the SLC airport. Our plane to Chicago probably had the least leg room I've ever seen. Poor Russ had to spread his legs really wide to completely go around the chair in front of him. Even my knees were hitting the seat in front. We had a really long layover in Chicago, and I had filled Russ's head with international flight horror stories (even telling him that he'd wish for death after the 8th hour), but the 14 hour flight to Delhi has been the best part of our trip so far. We had lots of leg room and the coolest seats ever. Instead of playing one movie, we could choose from 11 and they were almost all ones we'd been meaning to see. It was great. I even took a sleeping pill and slept a full 8 hours. I couldn't believe it. We also had a remote that doubled as a controller if we wanted to play video games at our seat. The best part was that we didn't even have to turn them off for take-off and landing! :) Even the food was good. Russ was so spoiled!
June 20th: We landed in Delhi at about 8:30pm and it was 105 degrees, 47% humidity (I think...the accents are hard to understand sometimes). We got our luggage, went through customs, and had a momentary panic as we didn't see anyone standing outside the doors with our names on it. I've never seen so many drivers before. But we found ours and we drove for about an hour to Faridabad. We had no idea we were going straight there. During that drive I learned to appreciate American driving rules....silly things like staying in one lane. I decided that our driver used his horn like we'd use a bike bell - just to warn people that you're comin'. We'd strattle two lanes, weave in and out, tailgate, cut people off, honk every 10 seconds, and other general death-defying things. It was more like people jogging than cars driving because even stop signs and stop lights didn't matter. We did stop at one red light, at which our driver got out of the car and cleaned the windshield. When the light turned green again, other cars just went around while he got back in. That was exciting. Unfortunately, we brought a carry-on bag filled with sports equipment, games, and candy and we left it in that car. We'll likely never see it again.
And, by the way, there really are cows just meandering around in the road. And there are no trash cans so the trash is just allllll over the ground, streets, and in piles. There is a new smell every 100 feet or so.
That night was brutal. We got to the host family's house at about 10:30pm and it was still 105 degrees. Needless to say, we didn't sleep. It was miserable. The heat is so stiffling that I could hardly breathe. Russ and I just looked at each other and said, "What did we get ourselves into?"
June 21st: Not a good day. It's so hot here. There is no relief from the heat. No air conditioning, and not many people speak English. We didn't get a half day orientation and we didn't even go to the project we thought it was. This whole thing seems a little sketchy. No one told us what was going on, but luckily there are 3 other volunteers with us who have a little more experience. So I will have to take pictures of the house we're staying at. It's not really a house at all. There are two bedrooms (for the volunteers). Four cement walls, a cement floor, a fan, a small window, two hard beds, a few shelves, one light bulb, and a door that has a combination lock on it. The combination lock is there because there is no inside to the house. Outside of our rooms is a small covered patio, a bigger uncovered patio (with the bathroom attached), and....I guess there is a small downstairs, but we don't go in there. There are stairs up to the roof, which is really just like a big patio. Well. The whole family (parents and four children - ages 11 to 1) sleep on the roof. I suppose it's not as hot up there. There is also a small kitchen. By that I mean that there's a small camping-style stove on the floor where the mom sits and makes food. We'll take lots of pictures.
We do have a squat-style toilet, but that's not too bad. We also have a bucket shower. What that means is that water comes from like a hose nozzle and we use a small pitcher to fill it up and throw the water on ourselves. The water is room temperature, so it feels great. I actually really like the shower. But, as soon as you start to dry off, you are sweating again so you don't get completely dry. By the way, the constant sticky sweat dripping is probably the most uncomfortable I've ever been in my life.
The coolest part of the day is from sunrise (5am) to about 8. It's in the 80s then and it feels good. We're with a family that doesn't speak much English. 3 kids and the dad speak none, the oldest is our guide/translator, and mom speaks broken English. I wasn't expecting that. Also, we were told we'd be going to a school with 100 slum children. Well, our placement is really in a small school/orphanage for street boys....7 of them. We're supposed to teach them English and play games, but yesterday was a waste of time. There is no structure. We thought we'd be walking into a school and be assistants, but we were it. The kids don't speak any English and I've learned that people here are laid back. I honestly don't know what they do all day other than just sit around. Well, the kids were the same way. After about 3 hours of the 5 of us sitting in the heat complaining about how this experience wasn't what we thought it would be, we decided to be proactive and teach the kids abcs, numbers, etc. Well. That lasted about 20 minutes before they were done. We played rock paper scissors and we taught them Heads Up 7 Up, but it was a waste of a day. We don't have anyone to tell us our responsibilities or help us communicate with the kids. I would love to hear about their lives, but we can't even talk! We have a game plan for today, so we'll see how it goes. We just feel a little disillusioned and frustrated and underutilized. One of the other guys brought TONS of school supplies, and craft stuff, and they took it and put it somewhere. When we asked about it no one would answer. We wonder if they sold it.
Then we took what's called an auto rickshaw (basically an open-air taxi...made to fit about 4 comfortably although we had 13 on it yesterday) to the mall because it has Western toilets and air conditioning. We just walked around for hours. When we got home, Russ was really not well. We think he might have gotten heat exhaustion. I've never seen him so out of it before. He couldn't do anything. It was scary. We had at least 10 liters of water between the two of us, but when you sweat non-stop, it doesn't do much.
The food has been good. Very spicy for me, but yummy. Our family is nice, even if we can't communicate much. We talked about the possibility of leaving early since it's so hot and we don't really feel needed, but we'll probably just take long weekends and do more site seeing (and staying in hotels with AC) than we'd planned.
Anyway, it's time to go. The power has already gone out once and I want to post before it goes out again. We'll post again in a few days. We don't know if we're having fun, but it has been eye-opening and makes us appreciate what we have. Please pray for us to stay healthy and be able to sleep and that Russ doesn't get heat exhaustion again. I hope this post wasn't too long or depressing. We are trying to make lemonade out of what seems like a mountain of lemons. I also apologize for typos. We are in the world's smallest, hottest Internet cafe with the oldest keyboard I've ever seen. :D
Russ and Adri