Activity Week: Day 2

The day began well, had a rough middle, and worked out okay in the end.

We awoke early to a very cold morning. A shower would have been nice, but a sponge-bath inside a four-feet high cube of black tarp with freezing cold water was just not going to happen. The restrooms were the same black plastic tarp material, also four-feet high, with a box above a hole in the ground (the box is considered a luxury). Awkward but necessary.

We had a lovely breakfast of homemade MaltoMeal (from grains grown feet from our campsite) with coconut on top. The wheat was grown, cracked and prepared in the village. Yummy.

We then set off for a hike. We took cars from the village to a spot in the middle of nowhere where a path climbed a mountain, at the top of which was our destination, a small Hindu temple of importance to the area. There was only one car for the group, so I got to ride on top. It was terrifying. The roads were curved and steep and the drivers carefree. And to make it worse, I only held on with one hand, since I could not help but video the experience.

We arrived safely and began the climb. It was the most physically exhausting thing I have done in decades, and I, to my shame, only got about 1/3 of the way to the temple. Obviously, the majority of the blame goes to my out-of-shapeness, but, in my defense, the climb was steep and straight up. No downhill rest. No flat portions to catch your breath. Straight up. In very high altitude. I almost keeled over when I approached the top of the mountain, thinking I was close, and the guide said, “The temple is three mountains over” and pointed to a speck of white on a peak far above me. That was it for me. Although many of the kids were dying as well, they persevered as I gave up and escorted one student with knee troubles back to the bottom. We wandered back down the path, got back in the car, and drove to the village.

I knew I had made the right decision when I almost collapsed climbing the small uphill path to the campsite. Time went fuzzy for a while as I moved in and out of awareness, napping but never really sleeping. Several hours later, I awoke and fled my tent. This seemed to be the cue the village children were waiting for. They surrounded me and began barraging me with questions. Sadly, I was in no mood given my exhaustion and climbing failure, to discuss my weight, which was the main topic of conversation. They moved from wrapping their hands around my arm to touching and shaking my belly while giggling about “150 KG.” They were very interested in my age, and where shocked when I told them 37. I am not sure if they thought I was much older or much younger.

After a whike, I became annoyed at the attention, despite the cuteness of the kids, and retreated back to my tent to read “The Memorable Thought of Socrates” by Xenophone. God bless Kindles and public domain books. The book turned out to be short enough, and interesting enough, to finish in one day.

The test of the students eventually returned, dead to the world. We had dinner (excellent again. Dal, rice, some very hot pickled thing, and boiled sugar cane that tasted like candy corn for dessert.) I fell down the path in spectacular style on the way to dinner, freaking out my students until I jumped up and declared that I was fine.

After dinner, we headed directly to our tents to recover from the day.

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About the Author

I moved to India. I mean, why the hell not, right?