On our second day in Kollum, we went on an eco tourism tour of the surrounding countryside. This required a three hour ride which involved much puking on my part. I’ve never been carsick in my life, but riding in a van with covered windows through Indian traffic is apparently more than I can handle. Thankfully we arrived alive.
Please forgive my super shiny face, I’ve given up.
We also found a monkey. A real live wild monkey. Just running around like that was a totally normal thing to be doing.
And chose this moment to dive into the world of eating with our hands. We made a giant mess.
While we were eating, a large group of school children came in. They demanded pictures with us and we got to spend about an hour talking to the teachers. They were very neat women, I wish we could have stayed longer.
I also ran into a nun who lives in Corpus Christi and is on a holy trip. Small world.
After visiting with her, we met a local woman who makes honey.
It was then poured very suddenly into our hands for us to try. So try we did.
It was a good time to remember that we hadn’t washed our hands in a bit. Oh well, we are still alive. After the honey we went on a very long and very sweaty “nature hike” to a dam. I only like nature when it’s at 50 degrees or below.
After slogging though all that nature, we took a lovely three hour bus ride home. While I would typically be asleep during this type of ride, the constant swerving and sudden stopping makes it entirely impossible. Needless to say, we were all a little bit grumpy and tired when we got home. And completely adhered to the vinyl van seats thanks to the lack of air conditioning and inability to open the windows.
Not impressed. We had just enough time to get home and rinse off before we were set to attend our next Rotary meeting. I normally get really stressed about the meetings because we each have to give a presentation and it involves meeting about 50 or so strangers.
I’m getting better at understanding their accents and learning which words I should use, but it is still pretty difficult to communicate at times. Thankfully, I made friends with Parvarti who was at every meeting with her dad because he is a Rotary big wig. I’ve almost got her convinced to run away to Corpus Christi.
She is so smart and her favorite thing to do is read. When she grows up she wants to be an English professor. It was pretty much love at first sight, well except for the fact that she loves Justin Bieber. We can work on that.
In other news, I think I’ve got several key things figured out. I can finally turn my lights and my fan on.
That is the one outlet in my room and those are the switches that control all the electricity in my bedroom and bathroom. There is also a power switch that turns on the plug, it took me way too long to figure that out.
Additionally, I can now bathe. The first night I tried to use that blue sprayer thing, but it just barely sprinkles water on the skin and my shower took 30 minutes. I also never got the soap out of my hair. I felt pretty stupid for not being able to figure it out, but I caved and asked my host mother and she pointed me to the bucket system.
It took me a couple of times to master the semantics of bathing with a bucket, but I finally can get the soap out of my hair. I’ve even decreased the amount of water I need to use by half. Gold star for this wasteful American.
There also isn’t a shower curtain, so I get really stressed about trying not to soak the entire bathroom. On my first night with the bucket, I managed to drench two rolls of my precious toilet paper. Hard times.
The final conundrum we have all faced is the bed. There is just one sheet. It’s not a fitted sheet, it’s just the top sheet. I don’t know if I go under it (and on the mattress) or over it (and have no covers). I’ve just been wrapping up like a burrito as I do eventually cool down at night. Any advice or explanation from someone who knows how this works would be greatly appreciated.
In fantastic news, we moved cities today and I am in the most amazing house (seriously, it’s the nicest home I’ve ever been in) that has wifi. Even though I miss my last host family and I cried like a baby for several hours this morning, I’m in heaven.