Delhi and Agra:
I made a list everyday on my phone for things that I noticed and how/where I felt like we had some help from our guardian angels and God. I will put up an abbreviated version and may include some pics. Let me know if you have questions, and I'll attempt to clarify :)
- Found Rebekah without trouble in the madness of the Chennai airport (she heard my voice)
- Got to swim in a real pool at a real house in Chennai (yay for church friends!)
- I actually knew how to use the phone because I had to do it the day before
- Our hotel room had a western toilet, a shower, a fan and AC
- Good chocolate at the Chennai airport (domestic terminal)--I wish I could adequately explain our joy at this discovery
- Celina did okay on the flight (she gets motion sickness)
- Church (we got to the whole thing, but in three parts. Don't ask. Long story).
- First rickshaw experience
- We met the Rahnk family (Jeff, Michelle, & Becca) at church. They invited us over for lunch. Michelle made us Chicken fajitas, sliced watermelon, and brownies. Only people who have lived off of rice and sauce for a few weeks will understand the amazingness of this meal. And the food was only part of why they were so awesome. I'm so grateful we met them!
- Rebekah running into Ben, her friend from undergrad, at church. He gave us sooo many good ideas and information about Delhi
- We went to the Baha'i Lotus Temple. What an interesting place and beautiful theology! I'd like to go on a day when it's no crowded so I can take my time. Alas, that will probably never happen, but if it does I've got a plan!
- The Akshardam Temple. Please google this place and look at the images. Wow, wow, wow!!! Wow. It was like walking onto the set of Indian Jones, but cooler because you were in the middle of it. We barely made it inside before the gates closed, but then we ended up having tons of time inside. We wandered all over the main temple, went to the water fountain show, wandered around the courtyard and through the Lotus Garden. I think I participated in some Hindu ritual. They normally charge for that, but for some reason they offered to let me go for free. So I did. I poured water on a statue, got a bindi and a bracelet with the sacred colors.
- Met a really cool lady on the metro. She's Indian, but speaks amazing English (speaking of, I need to email her)
- The internet worked on my phone! Not in my room, like advertised, but in the lobby (which is way better than nothing)
- So, you never know where you'll run into a friend. On Monday morning, we hopped into our friend's car, because he was helping us grab train tickets. As we hop in, we notice that there's a guy in the front passenger seat. As we sit down he says, "Rebekah! Jamie Kalama!" What the what!?!?! It's Sergio Lewis! I knew him from CA. Rebekah knew him from DC. Crazy, right!? Suffice it to say, we changed Sergio's plans, and he ended up hanging out with us for the next day and a half.
- We realized it wouldn't cost much more to get a driver to Agra. Soooooooo glad we did!!!
- Qutub Minar. What an amazing place to visit. I will put up pictures from this place.
- Cycle Rikshaw trip through Old Delhi. At first we were confused why Ben would recommend a cycle rikshaw guy. After we got into Old Delhi, we completely understood. We went places that no car or auto rikshaw could go. People kept touching us, like we were special or an oddity. It was disconcerting. I could go on about Old Delhi forever. Suffice it to say that it's crazier than what you see in the movies. I loved it!
- While in Old Delhi, we met a member of Parliament or something. He sells clocks. He gave us gifts. I need to email him too.
- Did you know that there are "Lady only" security lines and metro cars in India? Sometimes, especially at night, it's better to be a lady!
- Celina stayed at the hotel that evening, but Rebekah and I went to dinner at Pizza Hut with Ben and his wife, Mary. What a great time! And what great food! (You've probably noticed that food is a major theme her in India)
Tuesday (Agra + drive)...
- The Tomb of Akbar. I could tell you more, but most of the information is online. One fun thing, the ceiling of the main tomb is a 46 foot dome. This creates a 6 second echo. The guide wanted me to sing in there. I said, "really? Me?" He said yes, so I sang part of "O Sole Mio." It was awesome. I think the vocal demo guy should have tipped me the 10 rupees I gave him
- Feeling safe...travelling in India as a woman is dangerous. However, I never felt unsafe. Every time I started to feel unsure about a place or situation, something happened to save me (and Celina & Rebekah, as applicable) from the predicament.
- Our driver, Brij, was/is AMAZING! If you ever go to Delhi, let me know so I can give you his information. He is worth for more than we paid him.
- Agra Fort. Who has that many concubines and wives!?!?! The guide really got into telling us about them. Eeew.
- The Taj Mahal. We didn't want a guide, but one attached himself to us. I"m so glad he did, because there are just times when you need a guide.
- A clean a nice hotel room that was only a 5 minute walk to the Taj
Wednesday (Agra, driving, Delhi, Chennai)...
- The only bad part about our visit to the Taj on Tuesday was that it was super crowded and the sunset stunk. It was too cloudy. So, we decided to come back for the sunrise. It was the most expensive monument we went to, but it was well worth paying for the sunrise. Wow. Wow. So beautiful. The funny part was that Rebekah, Sergio, and I all forgot our camera batteries. Serg ran back. Rebekah bought some batteries from a street vendor and used my camera. I used my phone (I love the iphone)
- Brij was full of awesome information, and he got us back to Delhi in a flash. Then he drove us around to see the important things that we hadn't already visited at no additional charge. He was the best driver ever!
- We said goodbye to Sergio, but Celina, Rebekah, and I made it back to the airport safe & sound. Our flight was delayed, but we were there. Gratefully, Vel was almost at the airport to pick us up when we arrived back in Chennai. He got stuck in really bad traffic, so it was a huge blessing that our flight was delayed.
What a trip! I'm so grateful we got to go. I'm so grateful to travel with friends, and to run into Sergio on the way. It felt like he was part of the plan all along! I'm so grateful for the chance to check things off of my Bucket List, even though I hadn't thought it was going to be a possibility. Life is full of amazing adventures, and I am definitely enjoying mine!