Posted by Emily Block | 0 comments

India! (Day 1, Part 1)


 Is it really possible that I'm in India!?!  It is so amazing to get to go to these places I started dreaming about in childhood.  My first glimpse of India came from my window roughly 15 seconds after my alarm so rudely woke me up.  It was like an instant adrenaline rush to see in person what I had previously seen in photographs.  Houses, hotels, and businesses lined the shore and had to compete with the thick vegetation to stay standing.  Some of the old, abandoned buildings were loosing that battle, but it was beautiful.  It looked just like I always pictured India when I was growing up.  

    Immigration was quite a process.  We had to go to the officials who came on board the ship and get approved face to face.  By the time we were finally cleared to leave the ship, we were almost an hour and a half late.  There was a lot of grumbling but I was secretly happy that I had the extra time to lay down and have my meds kick in.  I was having a bit of a rough morning despite my excitement.  I also learned that it was strongly encouraged for me not to bring the wheelchair on my trip that day, so I needed all the extra rest!
    I always like to take note of how a new place smells.  India smells just like Southern California in the summer, aka smokey.  haha  Just like Ghana, it is common to burn garbage here, so certain areas, like where we are docked have lots of smoke in the air.  Farther away from the garbage burning the air is much more fresh.
 I got to take in this fresh air after a short bus ride to a community on the bank of a nearby lake.  Much to my excitement, we were greeted by our second guide who gave us these awesome hats and escorted us onto two huge canoes.  There were two men on each canoe who used long bamboo sticks to push off the bottom and propel the boat.  

 There were a peaceful few minutes on the lake when I took in the surroundings and got to know the people in my boat.  It was really fun waving to people on the shore and talking with the ladies who were fishing nearby.  Many of the people who live on the water (including our guide) go out in the morning and evening with a buoyant pot and catch fish with their hands.  Most of the fish were shrimp like critters, but there were some flat fish too.  I don't' know how they could catch the fish with their bare hands!  

   We got off the canoe at the fishing village where we would be spending the rest of the morning.  A bright and bubbly little girl greeted us with a handshake and a flurry of questions.  Where were we from?  What are our names?  How old were we?  A few older kids and adults handed out fresh coconuts for us to drink and eat.  It was a very cool welcome!

   The village had a very cool layout with paths winding between cultivated fish, crab, and shrimp ponds.  We walked further into the center where women were working on different stages in the process of turning coconuts into useful products and food.  

The first station was where the coconuts were cracked open.  Just like in Costa Rica, there was a sharpened stick protruding out of the ground and one of the adults would repeatedly whack it with a coconut until the husks came off.  

The next step was scraping out the meat and making it into coconut milk.  I always thought that coconut milk came from the liquid inside that you can stick a straw in and drink.  It actually comes from pouring a bit of water over the shredded meat and then squeezing the mixture out.  The liquid that some out is the coconut milk used in tons of different recipes.  

On the other side of the central area, older women were preparing the husks to be made into rope.  The husks had been soaking for several weeks to soften up.  Then, the women would beat the husks with a club until the fivers came apart.  One thing I can't get over is how strong people are in many of the countries I visit.  These ladies looked so frail and they were able to vigorously thump on the husks like it was the easiest thing in the world.  I think one thump would be enough to do me in.  haha


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