McKinnley McDonald- Our journey from Chamba

  Since I last blogged we have said goodbye to the kids in our schools and ashrams, a few kids in my group cried at the schools but I don't think any of the school children understood that we would not be coming back although the teachers had prepared an amazing meal comprised of samosas, pepsi, and some sort of donut pastry.  At the ashram we handed out hats, gloves, socks, and jackets before we said goodbye.  For our goodbyes everyone in our village group gave a short impromptu speech which our translator Vanayak helped them understand.  Most of the kids at the ashram understood that we were going to be gone after that and were crying with us.  As we were getting into our cars the kids came out and surrounded the car to tell us all goodbye one last time, it was incredibly touching.

Today was our first day away from Chamba.  We started our journey to Delhi yesterday morning with a nice car ride that lasted for what seemed like at least six hours, during which I happened to develop what felt like an ear infection.  This made the crazy way that all Indians drive even worse.  We made frequent stops for no apparent reason on the way and sometimes our driver would leave and drive away for 10 minutes to, most likely, smoke.  We made a planned stop at the same restaurant that we stopped at on the way into Chamba; it was just as good the second time.  After regaining circulation in our legs after the long car ride we got on a night train for another 10 hours.  Everyone was asleep within a half an hour of getting seated except for me and a group of four others.  We were awakened by Chad and Raj one stop before ours, luckily my ear was feeling a lot better.  We got off and Raj hired a group of I think 15 porters to carry our bags across the train station, outside, and put them onto the bus for us; most of the porters had two bags on their heads and one in each arm, they are crazy.  Our bus ride was another six hours, I slept for the first two because I had two and a half seats on the back row.  After another three hours of driving we all got out and went to an Indian Pizza Hut, I guess everyone was homesick for some american food.

We finally arrived at our hotel at around two in the afternoon.  The first thing we did after eat was to explore.  We found a few shops and a few of us got some gifts and clothes.  The next few hours have been spent with random walking around, card games, and giving each other massages.  Currently we are waiting for Chad and Raj to come back with some McDonalds (more american food, sweet!) and somewhere down the street people are lighting off leftover fireworks from the holiday on Wednesday, no one seems to know what holiday it was.

It's crazy that we only have a few days left in India.  Tomorrow we are waking up early and going to the Taj Mahal in the morning and shopping in Jaipur in the afternoon.  Sunday we get to ride elephants before going to the airport to come home!  See everyone on Monday!

-McKinnley McDonald