Monday, June 30, 2014


This past week we traveled to Rajahmundry! It was a 5 hour train ride, and what an interesting train it was. Indian trains are... well we were in good seats. And this train had A/C (a huge blessing) but the chugging and swaying and stopping and going did make me a little sick. That didn't dampen our excitement though!

Stephen insisted on standing outside the train, while it was moving.

The beautiful river

Once we were there we went shopping, walked around and enjoyed the fact that we were inland enough that it wasn't humid. The weather the whole time we were there was pretty perfect. It was cool-ish and rained a lot. We loved it!

After shopping we ended up at a large river (whose name is both unpronounceable and unspellable) and watched the sunset. And there began a very odd trend, newspaper photographers wanting our picture. I'm not a fan of this trend. It happened pretty much every day. I would make a horrible celebrity. (Not to mention I really don't like walking down the street and watching people whip out their phones to take pictures of us. It makes me feel like an exotic monkey.)

We ended up surrounded by water buffalo. We might have accidentally
hit one with the car. It was only a nudge. The huge animal was fine.
Day 2 brought about a riverboat cruise! After a car ride, we were able to play on the banks of the river before the boat came. Once on the boat we enjoyed the beautiful scenery around us. We were on the boat for about 8 hours, and were able to see bats the size of bald eagles (I wish I was joking. I'm not) and many, many, many water buffalo. (Ashley, they are real. Seriously.)

It was so nice to be out in nature. The boat was pretty crowded, but if we managed to get seats at the prow (I believe that means front) than we could enjoy the breeze and pretend that we were all alone in nature. Granted, swimming in the water would probably mean imminent death, but we liked to imagine how nice it could be.
A village we drove through

We were able to disembark to check out a temple, only we all got so distracted by giant trees and enchanting little brooks that we could walk in that we never actually went in the temple. (Oops!)

Also, Stephen danced.

Some rock yoga.

More water buffalo

Boat napping

Some bird of paradise, in the river.

The boat

It was a very lovely day.

Day 3 we visited our host's home village and enjoyed a walk around the beautiful place. We played in the garden (I have a wonderful video we made coming soon!) and walked down to the river and a Hanuman temple (Monkey temple!) We saw no monkeys, but that was ok. The rain was refreshing. And I saw a pig, which is almost as cool as a monkey. I haven't actually seen a monkey yet. We will soon though. I'm certain of it!

Hanuman Temple

 Day 4 was a very, very, very long and cramped car ride to visit the textile factory. We were able to see how they hand stamped the fabric, made the wooden tamps and we shopped!

Afterwards, a quick lunch, and then we went on to visit the birth place of kachipudi dance, which is a classic and beautiful dance style here in India. There I made friends with a 4 year old girl who danced for me, even though she was very shy.

Our last stop was at a Krishna temple, where we were blessed by the priest. It was pretty awesome.

Afterwords was a very long, very cramped ride back to the hotel, and the next morning, we left to come back to home base.

The dance place

Krishna Temple

All in all it was a wonderful adventure where we were able to see a lot, buy some gifts and enjoy a few nights in air conditioned comfort.

Next week, Nepal!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Fishies, Cows, Pizza and More

All continues hot and humid here in India. Though it is starting to cool down a little bit. That is a huge relief. We moved our bed into the front room (we were trying not to since there are no curtains. We are on the second floor, but neighbors walk by) but we got so hot we were desperate. It was beautiful. It even got coldish. Coldish enough to snuggle. Which is a big deal guys. 
Just outside our house

This was before the fishies. I have a video
but it won't upload cause I have slow internet
This week we went and got a fish pedicure. It was so freaky! Fish were eating my feet! But it was still awesome. It was the weirdest feeling though. We also went to a movie. We say How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Edge of Tomorrow (both were great!). 

There is an american family here for a few months. The dad oversees the tech part of a company and was checking on things here and brought the family along. She is 5 months pregnant (and BRAVE). They invited us over for dinner and we had american food and I just about cried. They are so generous and kind and open. Reminds me of our family.

I've also had some run-ins with some cows. One cow followed me down the street while I was heading down the street. I don't know if it wanted to be milked or petted or what. It had horns. I wasn't going to mess with the cow. 

I felt like I had adjusted to the culture, until some kids walked by our front door, saw us in the living room, opened the door and just walked in. Into MY space. Our little apartment is like a refuge away from India, and suddenly India was in my living room/bedroom. I like kids. I really do. A lot. But these kids... they were trying to be friendly and kind and curious. But I just couldn't have it. Boundaries must be set. Even if it means ushering them out of the living room over and over and finally locking the door. Kids. Sheesh.

It was one of the student's birthdays this week. We had a fun day of dominoes pizza and hanging out. The best part was the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Great italian food! We are definitely going back. 

The Mall with the Dominoes and the Movie Theater!
I also witnessed a baby shower at church. It is tradition to put as many bangles on the pregnant lady as possible. For happiness, I was told. Then they did a hindu blessing on her stomach, tied a scarf around her, threw confetti at here and made her eat cake from their hands. It was... overwhelming. And loud. And very strange. I personally will choose an American baby shower. Though cake is welcome (I just want to eat it myself!)

I feel like Stephen and I are adjusting and making the best of India! He has been a great support when I break down or want to give up. I am so grateful for the many people that are here with me. I am making good friends and it is all going up and up.

Anyone have questions about how we live here? Or anything about India? Just ask in the comment section below!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

India and the World Cup

India has been a very strange ride. I can't quite call it an adventure yet. I have tried and quit yoga classes because they were just... not right. And Stephen has made progress on his study. We've learned more about Visak. We have been shopping. We have gone to the movie theater. We discovered dominos pizza (greatest thing ever).

But I have continued to struggle here. I am trying a lot harder to find the positive, to be happy and find things I like. It hasn’t been the greatest experience for me. I don’t know if it is the heat or what, but I feel like India has just worked me over on all of my weaknesses.

However, things are looking up. I am finding more purpose and joy in my life. I am making friends with the other students. And I think everything is going to just turn around here. Slowly but surely.

Lately, we have all been excited by the World Cup. And by we, I mean Stephen. Because… I like soccer. A lot. But right now, I am just not all that excited about it. (However, I do enjoy looking at the men playing soccer. Many of them are just beautiful to look at.)

Due to the time difference, we all woke up (all of the students) and watched the USA vs Ghana at 3:30 am. Truth be told, I dozed lightly through it. I wasn’t ever really asleep, but I wasn’t really paying attention either. Stephen really liked the game. He has been watching as many games as possible when it comes to the whole World Cup thing. So that has been fun.

Other than that, we haven’t really had a whole lot going on that is more than just regular days working and surviving the heat. This is one of the hottest summers on record here. Which is just… depressing. Really, really depressing.

We are surviving though! And turning this into an adventure.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Looking Up

After yesterday's rant I feel much better.

I'm still not stoked to be here, but I am feeling better.

The crazy monsoon we had last night might have something to do with it. It really cooled everything down. So instead of being ridiculously hot, it is bearably hot. Thank heavens.

Besides rolling power outages (because of the storm) its been pretty good. Oh, and I found out I have an infection in my finger. The one I cut last week? I lost feeling to the top part of it, and the entire finger is swollen. I go into the doctor's office for a shot and a special dressing and they are going to try and drain the infection. I keep on having nightmares of like losing my finger or something. But that is just a little dramatic. I'm sure it'll be fine.

You know one of the hardest things for me not to do? Love on all the dogs. I know they are dirty and gross and disgusting, but some of them are so adorably sweet. There is one that stays around our apartment. During monsoons we let it on the front porch to sleep so it doesn't get wet. It is really the sweetest thing. People named her Josephine before we got here. I've shortened it to Josie. And man do I want to love all of Josie and bring her home (I won't mom. I promise. Kinda.)

So far Stephen has really made a good impression on everyone. As always. The people love him here. The students also love him. He is making connections with people in the village where he is doing studies, and they have just welcomed him in. It doesn't matter where we go, people love him.

The other day he was learning to play cricket with the local kids. It was adorable to watch. He has adjusted pretty well. Besides the infernal heat, which would turn any saint into a swearing sinner.

We are starting to make India a little more homelike. A little less foreign.

The people here have been so sweet and kind. Last week we were invited as guests of honor to go to a dance performance. The dancing was awesome. They had us go in the VIP entrance. There was a camera crew snapping pictures and broadcasting our arrival to local news stations. And after the dance, they had us come up on stage to receive awards. We all joke that they were awards for staying through the many boring speeches that happened after the dance portion of the night.

So things are looking up. Which is good. Because it was pretty bleak there. Still is sometimes. But this is a once in a lifetime experience. So it will all be ok! Thanks for listening guys.

Sunday, June 8, 2014


*For my sanity’s sake, please don’t give me a pep talk. Pep talks make me want to scream right now. Feel free to sympathize, send loving vibes and all that. But please don’t tell me it will all be ok. I know all of that. I just needed to get this off my chest.*

I’m sure everyone has been waiting to hear about India. I’ve been meaning to write. But I haven’t.

For a few reasons.

This is not what I had imagined. I’ve heard that for the first three weeks most people hate it. No one wants to be here. But after that they adjust.

I am praying that is true.

I wanted to write a post about coming here and how it was hot, but man was I loving the people/yoga/experience/etc.

But I can’t say that. This is not the international experience I was expecting. Or told about. This is not the interesting, eye opening and heart changing experience. Yet. I’ll let you have the yet.

I don’t like it here. I didn’t fall asleep last night until after 4:30 am. It was so hot I couldn’t. I tried for hours and hours. But I couldn’t. I’ve been sick. The can’t-keep-food-in-me kind of sick. I’ve managed to cut my finger badly, and now have to worry about infection.

The food is fine. The people are great. I am even fine and resigned to the no toilet paper and showering with a bucket. But the heat. The infernal heat is going to do me in. Mentally and physically. People don’t need birth control here. The very idea of touching another human being is abhorrent.

But my biggest disappointment has been yoga. I came expecting different. I knew it wouldn’t be the same. I knew it would be full of different. But this? This is not what I was expecting. It isn’t even something I can adjust too.

I am used to a breath fueled practice. I fell in love with yoga because it was quieting the mind. It helped meld mind and body. I breathed and stretched and sweat and learned and grew through my practice. I have been lead by amazing teachers who focused on mind, body, breath, heart and soul.

Not so here. I have tried several different styles. I have spoken with the teachers.  You know what I have found? A “Fast paced” style (that was supposed to be ashtanga vinyasa) that is more like an aerobic class with a few yoga poses thrown in. Breath is hardly followed or talked about. Quieting the mind isn’t talked about. There is no order. The teacher raises his voice and disrupts any chance at peace. Savasana lasts maybe 2 minutes. I tried yoga therapy – which was simply stretching. Again, no mind-body focus. It was just stretching. I’ve talked to others who have gone to other classes here. Same experience.

I came here for this? To be hot, miserable, sick , exhausted and worried. To take classes that only frustrates me? To never touch my husband? To walk around in 115 degrees in long pants, long sleeves and a scarf? To cry at 4:00 am because I am lying in a pool of my own sweat with no hope of it getting any cooler any time soon?


I know. This is only week one. It has to get better. I’ll adjust. I will. They say you hate the first three weeks. And if that is the case than I am right on track.

I am trying to find the good. I am trying to get over whatever this is. Culture shock? Needing to adjust?

I didn’t want to write this. I wanted to tell everyone about the beautiful, wonderful trip to India. I wanted to smile and laugh with the kids and the people. I wanted
I’m tired of sweating so much that I never feel dry. I’m tired of being a spectacle as I walk down the street. I’m tired of men staring. I’m tired of not sleeping. I’m tired of worrying if the next thing I eat is going to make me sick. I’m tired of forcing myself to go to a class that I am coming to hate. I’m tired of telling everyone at home that, “I’m great. Yoga is wonderful.” Because I don’t want to drag them down and make them worry.

If I could transport myself home this instant, I would. But I can’t.

So I will meditate and breathe and hope and pray and find the silver lining and try with all my might to like it here.

I just thought I should be honest with myself. And everyone else.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Paris to Germany - and Rothenberg

For our last morning in Paris, we grabbed some chocolate croissants, and took one more walk around. First up, the Opera House. We didn't go inside, but outside was absolutely beautiful.

We finished at the garden behind the Louvre. We sat down, took in the view and then rushed back to finish packing and getting ready to leave for Germany.

We were able to rent a car, and after getting a wee bit lost (thank heavens for GPS) we were on our way!

The German countryside is some of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen. It is so green. Rolling hills, growing fields, thousands of trees, hundreds of birds singing. It was so refreshing after spending 10 days in bustling, dirty cities (I loved Paris but it was incredibly dirty).

Stephen surprised me with a beautiful hotel. So picturesque.  And run by this adorable old German couple. He spoke some English. But she didn’t speak any. And she was very, very fond of Stephen. At one point she was even stroking his hair. Neither of them understood the idea of personal space. And the sweet lady would just talk to us in German, and we would shrug or smile. And she would laugh. And we would shrug and smile. Many times we would ask a question, and she would just repeat German at us. As if at any point in time we would magically understand. We never did. But that never stopped her from trying.

View from the hotel window

On the way to our room

But the most amazing part was Rothenberg itself. A walled city, frozen in time. The original stone work and bricks still standing. The city itself was built on a cliff, overlooking a green valley. The hills gently rolled away from us. A small forrest filled with singing birds. It is by far the most peaceful place I have ever been.

I don’t know what it was. I think that taking in so many new sights, being around so many people, walking and doing and going for so many days wore me out. Emotionally and physically.

Standing on the wall, looking out at one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. It felt like taking a shower after camping for a week. Or finally getting a drink of water after walking all day. Only for your soul. That is the only way I can describe it.

I might have sat and stared at the beautiful, green, serene hills for a long time. I might have even cried a little. I felt so settled and serene. I loved it. Every second. I didn’t know that Germany was so full of songbirds.

I loved all of it.

The next morning we walked around, visited some shops and took in the beautiful old walls, the churches and buildings.

We visited the Criminal Museum. We got the chance to examine some methods of torture and take a walk through a history of how their current laws came to be. It was actually really interesting. Especially some of the punishments they came up with. Some were really gory. Others were funny. Here were some of my favorites:

Than, we jumped in the car and drove to some of the surrounding towns. We went to Harburg to an old castle. It was raining so we had the outside pretty much to ourselves. We shouldn't be left alone with an entire castle to play with. We have videos, but I have to steal them from Stephen and be sneaky about posting them so he doesn't know.... 

Then we stopped by some town that started with an N and ended in berg. But it was mostly under construction. We saw a church, ate some ice cream (which was delicious), and then headed back.

Inside one of the churches

We than took the Night Watchman’s Tour. It was a walking tour around the city, and it was really quite fun.

The next morning we went into the most incredible, crazy, out of this world Christmas shop.  We were able to snap a few pictures before we saw a sign that said, “NO PICTURES”. But we were able to buy some beautiful Christmas decorations.

After a last walk around the city, we were off to our next city! (Which I will tell you all about tomorrow)

A glimpse into "Our castle".  This was Stephen claiming it in the name of the King. (He thinks he is king.)

The view from the wall

The night watchman! (In case you are wondering, I am wearing two sweatshirts and a raincoat. Germany was COLD)

Right out of a fairytale, right?!

The garden in the hotel

Stephen trying to get a picture