Okay, I don't even know where to begin! Thank you so much for all the comments on our last post. No wonder we haven't gotten sick...so many people are praying for us! Let me just pick up where I left off.
Tuesday, June 22nd: This day really was better. We went to the school and decided we were going to see where each of the kids were at so that when new volunteers come, they will know instead of having to start from scratch like we did. That gave us some sense of purpose, which made us feel better. Then we went to see what the women in the village do. I am not sure if they are connected to the school/orphanage we are at or not. But these women in the village all make bags out of newspaper (which is harder than it looks) and they are sold in the UK. It's cool to see that "Made in India" stuff in action. In the evening the director of our project invited us to his home to meet his family. His wife is really nice and showed us his wedding album. It was really interesting to see an Indian wedding. He told us that his wife is from a different/ lower caste than him so she isn't educated. The caste system is strange to me because she seemed very smart, but she just never had the opportunity to learn. The director told Russ that he was really impressed with him because he's so mature, and he wants Russ to continue the bag making business in America. Even in different countries, Russ is good with people. :)
Wednesday, June 23rd: WE DISCOVERED A WAY TO SLEEP! Through a couple of failed experiments, we discovered that we should sleep on the roof with the family because it's cooler and then we also wet down our towels and use them as blankets. So it's a little weird to be damp while you're sleeping, but you just have to have a different level of tolerance for cleanliness and comfort. At least now we sleep about 6 hours a night. We didn't even go to the school today because we had to go to the mall and exchange money. Russ and I and another volunteer ended up spending SIX HOURS in the mall. We didn't want to leave the air conditioning. We just found a store with chairs and parked it. It was possibly the most comfortable we had been up to that point. I'm a little tired of people ripping us off though. It's just a way of life. I believe that they either hate Americans or they just figure we have way more money. A ride to the mall that would be 5 rupees for an Indian is 100 for us. We even got a different (more expensive) menu at Pizza Hut (by the way, thank goodness for Pizza Hut and McDonalds--although the menu is funny with only chicken, fish, and veggie burgers). It gets really old.
Thursday, June 24th: We left really early for a non-air conditioned 5 hour bus ride to Jaipur to site-see. By the end of that trip, I was so sweaty that I decided we will NEVER travel like this again. I want to be with a big tour group in an air conditioned us where someone else is in charge of the arrangements because it's just hard to get around when almost no one speaks English. The best part of the bus ride was that we got caught in a traffic jam so we just hopped over the freeway partition walls, drove parallel to three lanes of oncoming traffic, and drove on the OPPOSITE shoulder until the traffic cleared up. That's just....not normal.
When we got to Jaipur we realized people spoke English, but only to bother you or sell you something. But we ran into a nice Australian lady at the station (when she came up to me to ask directions I grabbed her and said, "ah! A white person!" It wasn't my finest moment, but she was the first one we'd seen!) she gave us the name of her hotel and it was HEAVEN. We had a toilet, shower, TV, fridge, pool...all standard things in American hotels, but made us feel like ROYALTY here.
Friday, June 25th: Toured around Jaipur. You probably haven't heard of any of the places we went to, but I think mom would be proud of me. I used our guide book to read about the places we were at and we took quite a few pictures. :) We went to Jaipur City Palace, Jantar Mantar, and Amber Fort (it reminded me of German castles because it was open and we could just roam around the hallways and rooms).
Saturday, June 26th: We traveled to Agra, where the Taj Mahal is. We stayed in another, much less satisfying hotel. It had AC but the power went out three times during the night so we were really hot. It also didn't have a shower, which was strange, but we had a connection there and when you know someone, it just makes you feel a lot safer. We went to a city/fort/palace called Fatehpur Sikri and got ripped off and hassled because we were the only tourists around. Again, I am in favor of large, organized tour groups...although we are proud of ourselves for getting around so well.
Sunday, June 27th: The Taj Mahal is BEAUTIFUL! We went early in the morning so it wasn't too hot, but we loved it. Now we can say that we've been to the number one attraction in the world...but they didn't even take credit card! We ran out of money in Agra. THAT was nerve-wracking. We just didn't eat. Seriously. It was half because of money and half because of the hassle of getting a ride to a Pizza Hut. We did find an ATM though, with the help of a helpful man. There really are some nice people here, but you just always have to wonder if they are doing it to be nice or for a tip. Then we tried to catch a bus back here to Faridabad and no one at the bus station really understood us and we got on one bus and realized it was the WRONG BUS so we got off in the middle of nowhere and had to get BACK to the bus station and find a bus. Needless to say, by the time we got home yesterday, I was hot, sweatier than ever before in my LIFE (I wonder how many times I've said that this trip), tired, hungry, and morale was just low. Russ was proud of us for figuring out the bus. He said, "India didn't defeat us! We defeated India!"
Monday, June 28th: Today we had a reward for making it one week: clouds! It didn't rain, but it was cool until about 11am instead of 8am, so I'm happy. The other volunteers were out touring today and a new guy came, so we showed him the ropes at the school. The kids start school this week so we'll see what we can do to get them ready. While we were gone this weekend, I realized I really like our host family. I am getting more and more used to the spicey food, and I am getting really attached to the cute little girls. Britney would be appalled with how babies get treated though. The baby in our family is so sad. He just crawls around and cries and puts trash in his mouth while his sisters carry him around. I can't watch. Also, babies travel on mopeds either sitting in front of dad or being held by mom. It's so scary.
I'm keeping a tally of how many liters of water we have bought. I think it's nearly 100. :) Sorry this is so long, it's sort of serving as a journal for us. I can't wait to post pictures. Thank you again for everyone rooting for us. We really appreciate it!!!
Adri and Russ