This was our last week at Sevalaya and the beginning to our eighteen day adventure backpacking around India. We spent the last few days at our project going on a bike rides, having a picnic and enjoying the company of everyone. On Monday afternoon we rode some bikes through all the local villages where many of our English students lived. As we rode around we saw so many of them and they were all so excited to have us come to their village. They were out of school for the day because of a religious holiday so they were all riding around with friends. We also spent our days having wonderful conversations with some of the wonderful people we made such great relationships with. We had some really hard goodbyes when we left; one woman in particular had become like an adopted mom to me. We had been taking tea together daily and chatting until daily prayer. Leaving our friends from the U.K. who were fellow volunteers was also extremely hard. We had gotten really close in the short time we had at Sevalaya. It was an incredible experience. It may have been different to other people’s experiences being in a home stay, but living on the campus was almost better I think. We didn’t have a host family, but Sevalaya is a different kind of organization and we ended up getting one huge family instead. I will miss those beautiful children so much, they have impacted me in a great way.
We left Thursday to Varanasi. We left out of Chennai and as we were boarding our train (that we almost missed) my duffel bag strap broke in the middle of the platform… Then we traveled 42 hours and were fortunate enough to have the kindest Indian family adopt us for the trip. Feeding us every meal, talking and playing cards, it was such a treat. They were genuinely such wonderful people. After arriving in Varanasi we planned to meet up, but unfortunately our lack of wifi kept that from being possible. While in Varanasi we did some great shopping, and got some great deals of course! We also went for a morning boat ride on the Ganges River at sunrise. The view was unreal and the pictures we got were great. We were fortunate enough to be in the holy city during the Pooja Festival which honors the deceased and also witnessing the burning of the deceased at the burning ghat. We enjoyed the rich culture of the city. It was such a beautiful place. We are traveling to New Delhi next for a few days and will go to the Taj Mahal from there. I can’t wait for our upcoming adventures.