Thursday, May 12, 2011

all-india wrap up

Let's see, where did I leave you last? Somewhere around Delhi, I think. In the interests of wrapping up the "all-India trip" blog series and getting back to normal life, here's a brief (maybe?) summary of the highlights of the rest of the trip:

After Delhi, we went to Agra, where we stayed at a little place called the Shanti Lodge ('shanti' means peace in Hindi). The best part of our hotel--which was just your average, very basic backpacker place--was its rooftop restaurant. With an amazing view of the Taj Mahal, it was somewhat surreal to be eating rice and dal and every few minutes thing, look, it's the Taj Mahal! A couple minutes later...whoa, it's still there. A few minutes later...oh man, there it is again. Other than seeing the Taj at sunrise the next morning, one of my favorite moments of that portion of the trip was randomly getting lost in Agra. Trying to find our way through the maze of streets to our hotel, somehow we took a wrong turn. We ended up in a very interesting area that had a variety of sights, sounds, and smells, some more pleasant than others. But it was real. The everyday-ness of it was, in its own way, enchanting, and both eye-opening and refreshing after being in mostly 'touristy' places.

Following Agra was Jaipur, located in the desert state of Rajasthan. On a whim, we decided to visit the local astrologer. Maggie had her horoscope prepared, and Jim had his palm read. Apparently, Jim will not have a happy marriage. Poor guy.

Our second stop in Rajasthan was the city of Bikaner. We stayed at Vijay's Guest House, which guessed it...actually Vijay's house. Vijay was very welcoming and accomodating, and after having made the overnight train journey from Jaipur to Bikaner, we quickly settled in at his house and prepared for our next adventure: camel safari!! Accompanying us on the safari was a random traveler from Ireland, Kristen. She was quite a talker but the four of us got along well and thoroughly enjoyed our venture into the desert. Riding a camel isn't as uncomfortable as one would imagine...and camels are just such silly-looking creatures! God must have been in a comical mood when he created them ;)  I'll always remember going to sleep under the stars, a heavy blanket shielding me from the cold wind of the desert night, the dunes and scrub bathed in light from the full moon. And being amused to learn that the toilet was on the other side of the dune...any dune.

Last stop on the trip was Goa. After a whirlwind three weeks, a calm three days at the beach was PERFECT. We literally did nothing but play in the ocean, walk on the beach, and lounge around on floaties. Hakuna matata.

The evening of April 23, we boarded our train to leave Goa. We woke up the next morning in beautiful, sunny, hot, humid, familiar, wonderful favorite part of all of 'incredible India' :)

"Love builds up the broken wall and straightens the crooked path. Love keeps the stars in the firmament and imposes rhythm on the ocean tides. Each of us is created of it and I suspect each of us was created for it." -Maya Angelou

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