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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Ive been going down, down into the River baby.

Im back for a day, and today was the best.
Over the past 21 days i have been traveling around Northern India on the boarder of Tibet and China. We took a 4 day trek to get into the Spitti Valley going over the 15,000 pass The Baba Pass. The entire hike was picture perfect and once it was done we got hiked to a village named Mud and took a cab to the city of  Kaja (or Kaza) and stayed there for three days. We enjoyed a few good meals at the local restaurants and did some shopping the first few days then went to a monastery and climb above it to this pristine lake that had a huge natural spring in the middle of it. The day after that hike we actually went to go live at a monastery in Key. The Key Monastery is over 900 years old and is still thriving with Monks or "Lamas" and everyone their speaks a mix of Tibetan Hindi. We started making the bricks right away and after four days of constant brick making with rummy games in between we finished 400 and 8 bricks and left to go on a homestay trek to let the bricks dry. Over 3 days we traveled from house to house to house in different Villages along the Spitti Mountains. We went to Langza, Comic, and some village starting with a D. (i cant spell it.) Each village had tons of new things to learn about and i actually got to see how everyday life is in a rural Village. I loved learning how to make Momo's with potatoes inside, its my specialty dish now in front of Mac and Cheese. We returned to The Key Monastery and Finished the greenhouse in a couple days and on the last day the King of Spitti, King NO-NO, came to inaugurate it. The whole ceremony was more extravagant than i thought it would be because Lama's were mumbling prayers and the king cut the ribbon and we planted seeds inside the greenhouse while the little children monks clapped outside the greenhouse. It was pretty awesome. We ate dinner and returned to Kaja where we stayed a night and then at 5 in the morning we started our long trip back. The first day we drove 8 hours across little rocks and big rocks. The roads in northern India are pretty bad but it was alright because my ipod was fully charged and i let myself be taken away by the music until we made it to Manali. Manali is the coolest city ive been to in a while. The tourists are more than i like, mainly because i like being the token wight guy in india, but i couldnt help but fall in love with the city. We left Manali at 6 in the morning and traveled across two states which is about a 16 hour car ride, stopping at Mcdonalds and a vegetarian restaurant on the way back to Woodstock. The Mcdonalds here is pretty funny. There is a sign that says "No beef or pork products sold here." Kinda beats the purpose of a Mcdonalds but whatever. We finally reached the Hanifl Centre by 11 that night and i crashed hard.
This morning i got to wake up at about 8 and talk to Tori and my mom. I knew i would miss them but i didnt think it would be this bad. After about 2 hours of skyping the gap guys and i went to the Rockaby manner for an amazing, well deserved, lunch. I came back down from Landor and took a nap to make the day even better. The Kutty briefed us on our upcoming adventure. Tomorrow we leave for about 19 days to go stay at the NIM, National Institute of Mountaineering, and we will be hiking a peck of about 19 to 20000 feet. Im so ready for this my skin is crawling. This is going to be real backpacking and im so excited. I stayed on the Internet long enough to be on when Tori woke up so i talked to her a little more then went to dinner and staff night before returning back to the Hanifl Centre and talking with Ingrid and Lindsay about our trip to Spitti. Even though ive spent only a short time here i feel like Woodstock school has become a second home, especially now that i have friends here. I walked Ingrid and Lindsay back to their apartment and they gave me some butterscotch ice cream in return. Even though im Lactose intolerant i ate every bite of that ice cream because it might be the best thing ill have in while. India camp food isnt the best but i cant complain. On may way back to the Hanifl Centre an easy 25 min uphill walk a moped came up behind me and it was an employee of the Hanifl Centre that lead us on our first hike. His name is T-2 and he offered to give me a ride up the hill. I was so excited to ride on a moped and not have to walk that i basically jumped at the opportunity and we zoomed around the windings hills with me on the back laughing hysterically with how much fun i was having. Now that ive given you the run down ill tell you guys that i wont be able to post again for almost another 3 weeks so dont bother checking until October 16. Wish me luck.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Im gonna let the blue sky carry me

Today is the last day will get to post until the end of September. Well at least the 26 of September. Ive said it a couple time in previous posts but tomorrow at 6 in the morning i leave for a 21 day trip to a region of India called Spitti to hike, make greenhouses, and live in different villages with locals to taste what real India is all about. Yes, their is a real and fake India. Here at Woodstock school its like a paradise for people not native to these parts. Most everyone speaks a little English and their are always people who i can recognize and see around campus to have conversations with. Everyone around here usually has a lot in common like doing outdoors stuff and traveling and even have the same problems like using the bathroom. Foreigners call their movements the "Indian Norm." We joke about it but all of us at the school are not really getting to feel India in its whole. I know i have mentioned it in every post and im sorry for being redundant but in Shantaram he talks about this very subject. He writes about how to feel the Real India you need to go and actually live in a village. Ive been babied for the past couple weeks here so its going to be a big change living amongst people who may not speak English at all. I dont really know how vast these people's education is but im assuming sense this is kind of a remote location they are not as educated as the people around Woodstock. That still doesnt mean they dont have a ton to teach me. I plan on utilizing every opportunity i have on this trip to learn more about the people, the environment, and especially myself.
I dont like pain or making myself suffer or anything, but i feel that getting away from expedients and luxuries that i have will be a really good thing for me. Really getting my hands dirty and doing things outside of my comfort zone is exactly what i signed up for when i decided to come here. Everything has been a little difficult but to be honest its still not roughing it yet. Pushing myself to my limit and seeing just how far i can take it will be interesting to see. 
Over the past three days i have been involved in a first aid course that has equalled up to about 20 hours of training. Ive learned and am now certified to give medical attention and CPR to any patient i get consent from in the wilderness and in urban environments. I Even have the cards to prove it. The course was difficult just they way i liked it but the instructors did an outstanding job at answering questions and really simplistically showing us the causes and ways to help people that are in danger with their own health. I love now knowing what do do if someone is unresponsive or choking or even has a dislocated shoulder. I have the power to help them and that makes me feel really powerful and confidant. I think everyone should be certified in First Aid at some point in their lives. Actually they should go through the class once every two years according to my card. Hopefully i wont have to use any of the things i learned while im in India but its really helpful to have this knowledge. Plus i take really detailed notes so i have all the extra stuff that some may be questioning in my journal. 
The past two days i have got to talk with Tori a lot more than normally. it may be because i really wanted to cram in as much talking time with her as i can before i leave, but i would want to talk to her as much as i have been anyway. 
She is a lot of things for me. For a couple months she has been my girlfriend and has shown me a lot about what caring for someone really means. For a while now she has been my advisor because she always has advice that i understand and that makes sense. She is always specific to my situation in the advise she gives as well, because she really knows me and makes an effort to get to know me more than most people have tried. Ill be honest with anyone if they ask the right questions in the right setting but she could ask me anything anywhere and i cant help but tell her every detail that goes on in my brain. She has been a solid rock that i can depend on and know that i can trust her for most of the time that i have known her. Most of all i think she has been the best friend i have been  looking for for some time now. Some people dont believe in angels but i can see her wings when she talks to me, or tells me a secret that only im allowed to know, or especially when she looks up at me with her green eyes and starts her contagious laughter because she cant hold eye contact very long without feeling awkward. Its not difficult at all for me to look into her eyes. Its actually the thing i miss most right now. Shes brave, strong determined, smart , beautiful, and i could go on but im already being to corny and cheesy so i better just stop being such a poetic pansy and just say that she is great. "Its a beautiful wonderful marvelous mysterious thing." -Drew Holcomb
Ill be back in 21 days so until them its case closed ;)

Friday, September 2, 2011

painting the town your favorite color

Today is the first full day of First aid training. Yesterday we had a 4 hour class on CPR that involved most of the staff. Its funny to see how people get along so well especially in a classroom setting like this im pretty excited about today though, i dont really know what is planned but the instructors are pretty cool so i know it will be something outstanding. Us Gap students, Rishi, and national rock climbing champion Prashant went to this really nice restaurant at the top of the mountain today. The had so many options of food that reminded us of home that we at breakfast there, then we have an appetizer, and by the time we were done with that we all got lunch and a desert to top it off. It was the best meal ever. Ive havent been that full in a long time...well sense i got to India. I was so happy to be that full i couldn't stop smiling. All the way down to the market i had a grin from ear to ear. After the CPR class yesterday Lindsey, a band teacher at Woodstock, invited us to go check out senior night. Senior night happens occasionally and involves a meal, games, a dance, and a movie. We made it in time for the dance which kind of reminded me of the middle school dances i went to. Except these guys loved being with each other. One thing that is common in India is that guys have no problem showing affection for each other. At first i thought it was strange but its just so common here nobody cares. All the kids in the auditorium had their arms around each other and were in big circles showing off their dance moves, listening to modern music, it was fantastic and i actually had a lot of fun being there.
Recently i have found out that i will be going on a three week trip to Spitti. Ive been really excited to go on this trip, mainly because we will be helping build greenhouses but also because we will be trekking most the way there and we will be staying in multiple villages along the way. From what i am told this is going to be the trip of a lifetime so im so ready to take it on. The only down part is, with all the hiking im doing i will not be able to bring my Laptop. It wouldnt do me any good to have it anyway sense Spitti most likely doest have Wifi at all so i really dont need to bring it but not being able to contact my family or Tori is going to be rough. I already miss them so much that it hurts.
Sometimes at night i will dream im home in Tennessee.  I will be in my kitchen with my mom, or watching a movie with the whole family, or in my truck driving Tori home from a date and i will be so happy that i wake myself up. When i wake up all i see is my watch, that i take off and hang from my bunk bed and a few photos i taped to the side of the wall next to my head. Looking at the photos is nothing compared to how real my dreams felt to ill try to roll over in order to get back into my dream but it never works. Sometimes i get restless when i wake up so i make a quiet exit out of my dorm and head up a trail near the Hanifl Centre. Its so dark that i can close my eyes and see more that i did with my eyes open. Their is a clearing along the way to the top that i stop in and try to write some of my thoughts down in my journal. I write about what i miss most and the things i wish i would have done before i left and the things i would be doing if i was home right now. I put everything down on paper and then read over it making corrections and deletions and slowly i assess my situation. If i was home i wouldnt be on the side of a mountain looking at billions of stars and watching the sun rise across miles of other huge mountains. I have to keep telling myself these things not to miss home to much. India has been my dream for so long i have to keep my head here instead of at home. I miss everyone from home a lot but this is where i need to be now. No pictures today but hopefully some will come of this fist aid class. Wish me luck.