Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Out On Our Own!

After leaving Cheruthony, we made a stop at a hut along the river belonging to a new believer family. George, Mary and their young daughter lived in the only abject poverty that we truly got to see first hand. No electricity, running water or any kind of plumbing. They were in desperate need of roof repairs which were unfortunately impossible in the midst of the rainy season. GV was able to pray with them and offer them some help and hope for the future.
idukki 55 We also got to drive by the famous Idukki Dam, the biggest arch dam in Asia at 555 feet! It began making electricity in an underground power house located in caves about 27 miles away. It also made a lake that is nearly 38 square miles! With all the rain and low clouds, we didn’t really get a good look at it but we tried…
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It was just a short drive to the hotel in Kattappana.
map of kattappana
Everyone was exhausted and ready for a nap before dinner but Chris and I were ready to explore the town.
Chris did a bit of poking around the hotel while I got settled into our room. 
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idukki 58I was super excited about having our own private balcony until I opened the door…
idukki 57I was even less excited when I peeked around the sign to catch sight of a pedi cab driver peeing on the side of the road in front of his cab…
Thankfully, the view from the other side of the hotel was a bit less revealing… ;o)
idukki 61idukki 62    Looking out just made us want to go out and see the town even more. We got permission to go out chaperoned and did a bit of shopping. Chris still needed some dry socks. The first store we stopped at looked positively terrified by the sight of white people and didn’t carry socks. We did find a shoe store and bought a pair and looked at about 25 pair of sandals for me, each hand chosen by the enthusiastic shop owners! Just like in America, women’s shoes were way more expensive than men’s! But I did buy an outfit from a shop where the salesman spoke very good English. He was also more than likely totally trying to take advantage of us, but we were street smart enough to see through his attempts.
idukki 64 One of the many small shrines you see in India (Some are Christian, or Orthodox, or Muslim, or Hindu) This one is Orthodox.
By the time we arrived back at the hotel, it was dark and time to go to supper…
idukki 63The restaurant we ate at was famous for tapioca and beef dish that was absolutely delicious! It also had this really awesome candle that they have been adding to and burning for 5 years!
idukki 67idukki 65idukki 66I have to say that I went to bed that night feeling pretty proud of ourselves… ;o)  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

White Walls & Comfy Pillows

We got quite a late start after our first clinic. And if I thought driving on those curvy narrow mountain roads was scary during the day, I had no idea how bad it could get! In the dark, on wet roads in THICK fog, it is almost terrifying! We spent most of the drive singing praise songs… ;o)  But thanks to our amazing driver, Emmanuval, we made it safely to Cheruthony!

map of cheruthoni

We were greeted at a hotel when we arrived and some men came and began to carry our luggage to our rooms. Suddenly, Pastor Michael showed up and told us we were at the wrong place. So we had everything brought back to the van and we went to the guest house across the street. It was their opening day and we were the first guests. The first thing I was thankful for, was that it was warm again… never thought I’d be thankful for that in India. I was also thankful we had brought our own toilet paper, towels and soap! I was thankful for white walls which made it easier to see the bugs in order to kill them. When it was time to go to bed, we were thankful for bedside lights with controls next to the bed.

idukki 45I love the way they folded the towel on the end of the bed!

That was the best night’s sleep I got while in India! The pillows Twere so comfy! The shower, on the other hand, was the worse shower we had while in India! I had to keep telling myself that I was thankful to be clean…

idukki 46the view from our window

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The halls were decorated with balloons for the grand opening. I am standing next to an open Bible on a table under a picture of Jesus praying in the garden.

Since we were right across the street from the clinic, we just strolled over to the neighboring hotel for breakfast before getting to work. Next to the pharmacy we stopped at for gauze, there was a man sitting on the sidewalk fixing umbrellas to sell. We presume he took umbrellas from the garbage for parts or to fix and re-sell. He was later fixing an umbrella for a family while they stood waiting…

idukki 48We had a great view from the clinic, as it was on the 3rd or 4th floor of a building on the edge of town…

idukki 49idukki 53the rest house where we stayed

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the building directly across from the clinic

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there were people doing their laundry in the river and that is a mosque on the top of the nearest hill…

Poor Chris had a leak in his shoes that left him with no more dry socks. There was a little shoe shop right in town where he was able to buy a pair of black waterproof shoes for only $4! They were such a great deal, that GV walked right over and bought himself a pair, too. :o)

I can’t tell you how excited I was that we were less than an hour from the next hotel!!! ;o)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Into The Mountains

Our next trip was to the mountain district of Idukki to the northeast of Mavelikara. We managed to get everything we needed for 3 dental clincs and 3 days of personal items for 6 people (me, Chris, Rick, GV, Reji, and our driver, Emmanuval) into the van and still have space for all of us!

map of kuttikkanam

After we got into the mountains I realized I should have paid more attention to the numerous warnings from Reji that the roads in Idukki were curvy and paid less attention to the fact that we were going to where tea and spices grew! It didn’t take long for me to wish I had brought my Dramamine! Even Rick got car sick in the back seat. The scenery was gorgeous in the mountains! There were steep hills and fathomless drop offs everywhere. But it was lush, green and dotted everywhere with tea plantations and waterfalls (thanks to it being the rainy season)! And it did rain quite a bit…

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idukki 08we took this pic for Will

No one was feeling very well, so we took a pit stop for coffee and chai…

idukki 15idukki 16this woman was selling tapioca root 

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 pastries in the window of the tea shop

Then we were back on the road again. We wanted to make it to the hotel before dark…

idukki 18idukki 19idukki 20While most waterfalls were off in the distance, we came upon one right on the road. It was a bit of a tourist attraction complete with photo ops and food stands but no parking. Not a problem. Everyone who wants to stops just stops and everyone else just has to find their way around. I can’t imagine what this place is like during the sunny holiday season!

idukki 21idukki 22idukki 24 idukki 23Idukki is a popular tourist destination in the dry season thanks to its higher elevation, cooler temperatures and the stunning views and scenery! We were also told it has a heavenly spicy smell at the right time of year…

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idukki 27 There were tea plantations everywhere! You could tell when you saw them from the way tea plants grow in rows on the hill sides. Women pick tea leaves by hand, 6 days a week all year long here for about $2 a day. No one was out on a Sunday but seeing how steep some of the hills were, I can’t imagine even being able to stand up much less pick tea! Especially during the monsoon season!!!

idukki 25 rows of tea plants on the hill

The road to the hotel was a narrow dirt road to what seemed like the end of the hill. We weren’t staying in just any old hotel but in a private club with cabanas, courtesy of Sindu Indane (the owner of a gas company and host of our first dental clinic).

idukki 04I may not have heeded the curvy road warnings, but I am glad we went back to grab our jackets before leaving IEM! It was cloudy, rainy, WINDY and cold! Yes, I said cold…

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The views were beautiful! Especially when the wind blew the fog and clouds away for a few minutes!

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idukki 30  It was raining quite hard and even though we were wearing rain coats with hoods, everyone insisted in carrying our bags while holding an umbrella over our heads which did absolutely no good in the driving rain and wind…

idukki 41 idukki 38 our room was the one on the right

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The view from our deck…

idukki 37 idukki 34 idukki 35 Rather than traditional American gutter downspouts, Indians just have strings of beads…

idukki 36After settling into our room, we met everyone at the Valley View dining room for dinner. Chris and I said how the weather reminded us of the Oregon coast in the winter: the rain was pouring down and the wind was howling!

idukki 29  We walked back to the room looking forward to our first hot shower while in India. I was so chilly and damp that it was almost all I could think about during dinner. And with no heat in the room, a hot shower was just what we were needing…

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If we had known the hot water would only last about 90 seconds to 2 minutes, I wouldn’t even had tried. It was almost unbearably disappointing. I gave up altogether and just went to bed cold and never did warm up.

It was not the best night’s sleep, but would have been nearly horrible if it wasn’t for earplugs to shut out the rain beating on the bare metal roof over our head and the singing bird at 5am!

But we were off bright and early for our clinic in Elappara…