|After a day of biking, Rick, Sampson and Markos scale a towering mountain to reach the fort high above the town.|
|A village woman competing in a Kolam contest. Chalk powder Kolam designs are a every day part of Hindu culture and are re-created each morning on the ground at the entrance to residences.|
|Kids performing a chant/response dance with their teacher at sunset. Each shook and clacked a wooden instrument fitted with brass tambourine discs.|
|Another giant banyon tree.|
|This line of bullock-pulled wagons brought a continuous flow of sand into a city.|
|Mosquitoes are best as art forms.|
|A beautiful lunch spread. Lots of tasties!|
Dal has been a constant. Food in the villages we pass is very inexpensive. Indoor lodging options are not always what we would choose so we camp at schools and churches. We continue to feel welcome and secure most everywhere we are. Traffic intensity and the density of movement through towns is beyond imaginable. We seek out the tiny roads in the country and brace for our adventure through towns with courage. We have reached the east coast of India and breath a sigh of relief.
Experiences on the way...
Sun schedule: up at 5am, breakfast and pack up by dawn at 6:30 am. Long sleeve cotton tops, bandanas covering our noses and lips, gloves over our hands. Sun-scorched skin is now almost completely healed. Break from sun exposure 11am to 3 pm. We rest in the shade: school-time, cook lunch and nap.
Memories on the road:
- Protovillage - community, inclusion. and a festival featuring feasts, dance performance, a Kolam contest and an incredible music performance featuring composer Ricky Kej.
- Sister Mary Jaya - a unanticipated host for Christmas Eve. Christmas Mass at 10 pm, chicken biryani, Christmas cakes, carols and a chance to bucket wash and dry in the sun the entirety of our wardrobe.
- Uttiramerur - the home village of my cousin Heidi's, husband's family. We arrived at 11 am, sweaty from the road to a reception by family, the Lion's Club, and city government officials lasting to the late hours of the night. Music, an official photographer, endless food and visits to numerous civic and historical sites. Truly an educational and almost overwhelming experience. We look forward to staying with Heidi's parents-in-law at the end of the week in their current home in Chennai.
- Mahabalipuram - the "beach town" destination. We've missed the season for surfing on this sea - the point break wave lasts April-Nov. Seas now are choppy and rough. Fortunately the town has so much else to offer. We take a week to decompress from the road, languish in the shade, organize our business for visas needed ahead in South East Asia, and celebrate New Years. Great people and a tourist destination for Indians from Chennai. It's fun to be where some action is happening, yet peaceful solace can be found.
And so we have reached our final week in India. I feel our 60 day e-visa opened both broad and diverse experiences. Though a visit can just brush the surface of country, this travel in India feels fulfilling to me. We have had a solid and all-encompassing time.
- bakeries featuring lots of Jaguri in even the smallest villages
- amplified mosques, temples and churches starting at 5 am
- the head-bob, "ha" and "ok, ok" all happening simultaneously and meaning, "yes, ok, alright"
- cold bucket/scoop showers and nightly wash of salty sweat bike clothes
- plastic piles, saris and dhoti-wearing people, walking and working along the road and in the fields
- cool mornings, banyon trees, coconuts palms and little bananas