Jesse and I woke up and had our last breakfast at the military hotel before heading out once again to the airport – destination Varanasi. Varanasi is an ancient town, one of the oldest in the world, and about 45 kilometers outside the city is a girl’s school that partners with SeeYourImpact. We were generously invited to stay at the home of the founder of the school for three nights. Back at the Delhi airport, we sat at a sports bar to regroup and get ready for our flight. Jesse tried to order a beer at 9:30AM and the waitress laughed at him. He settled for Red Bull.
The trip over to Varanasi was quick, but I finally caught the Indian flu (from what is still a mystery) and spent a good portion of the plane ride quite literally on the floor in the back of the plane. I had felt faint and the flight attendant tried to shove fennel seed down my throat which made me feel even sicker. I finally regrouped enough to get back to my seat and finish out the flight.
Outside the small airport, a well-dressed slender man held a sign that was colored in bright pink letters. It said, “Miss Jemie from Seattle.” We knew we found the right guy. He called his friend who pulled around in a nice large SUV to pick us up and drive us the 45 kilometers to the house and school. The ride took nearly an hour and a half down a tiny road with unbelievable traffic. Oncoming trucks, cars, rickshaws, bikes, bulls, buffalo, goats, children, mothers with babies on motorcycles, etc. filled all sides of the small and bumpy road. My stomach was not exactly loving it.
We arrived to the large home in a field right in a tiny, poverty stricken village. The school building, in the same style, was right behind the house. Jesse and I were greeted by Kamala, the kind Indian lady who had invited us to stay. We were presented with flowers around our neck and a ceremonial red dot on between our eyebrows. Members of the staff folded their hands at their chest and offered us a respectful “Namaste.” After a short conversation, Jesse and I retired to our bedrooms to have a nap.
When we woke, we were served a homemade Indian lunch of beans, yogurt, fried bread and zucchini. While it was delicious, my stomach wasn’t quite ready to take on any food. After lunch, Kamala took us out for a walk around the village to see how the people lived. Her father-in-law had built this house and her and her husband had remodeled it and also built the school in his honor. They live there a few months out of the year. Right around the corner, people lived in small huts with very few resources. They stared at us with curiosity and they showed their respect to Kamala by touching each of her feet.
When we returned, we went back to read and rest some more. The house had electricity, only because Kamala and her husband had installed it, but it had no Internet access and no television. It was interested how challenging it was for us to sit still and not be distracted by all of the normal ways we are accustomed to. We returned downstairs for dinner a while later – another lovely meal of bread stuffed with smashed peas, potatoes, yogurt with cucumber, cabbage and rice pudding.