Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Change of Plans

A frog living in our toilet. Made it kinda hard to poop. It just didn't feel right, you know?

A tree full of fruit bats that Jamie saw while on a scooter outing. Amazing!

Here is Walker taking a bucket bath. He pretends he doesn't like it, and he screams bloody murder, but then he asks for more. He had me throwing buckets of water at him the other day...over and over while he screamed in delight. The showers in India are in the same room as the toilet and sink, with no curtain or door in between. This works out just fine.

We have changed plans. Initially we were going to stay here at the beach for 6 days, make our way to Varanasi, the Holy city on Mama Ganga, and then head North to glimpse the Himalaya. After hearing there was about 3 feet of snow in the North, after watching Walker run around freely, after being tired from long train rides, and after experiencing the chill of Goa...we decided to stay at the beach for 13 days. We were able to change our flight to Varanasi with only a $60 penalty. So now...we will be here at Agonda Beach until 2 Feb, then Varanasi 2-5 Feb, then Delhi 5-9 Feb. Then home! We are finding this is very common for travelers to do because moving around is very tiring. On my last 2 trips to India, I did the very same thing as well.

Walker has been pretty challenging the past few days. Screaming like a monster at people, throwing sand, hitting, and being pretty needy. He also has not been listening. This is exhausting. We realize it would be the same at home. But at home, we would each have a break and we would not be in public so much. Here we each have to deal with the stress of this wild behavior all day long. We are working on ways of dealing with it so we can each get a break. In addition, he does not like the beach. He says the noise of the waves scares him. He is not afraid of water when we are at the lake, but here he is afraid of the small crabs, the noise, and a small variety of other things. I had imagined him playing in the sand, making sand castles, running in the surf...but alas, this is not the way it is.

The guys in the restaurant (each hotel has its own beach side covered restaurant) where we hang out are so lovely. They work here during the season, then go home or go travel in the off season. One guy is clearly very intelligent: his name is Sam and he is from Nepal. He said after the season he will travel in India and go to Hampi, a great historical site in Southern India. The other guy Ravi will go home to his 3 year old daughter and his wife. Ravi has a delightful and genuine smile. They are so sweet to Walker and have managed to make friends with him. (Even though Walker has said several times that he "doesn't like these brown people." Imagine my reaction to that utterance! He got a good talking to last time he said that. I am sure he says this because so many people try to pinch his face and get in his space.)

Walker's birthday is in 2 days. Yesterday we ordered him a chocolate cake with pink writing from the German Bakery right down the road. Jamie picked up a few small toys and a bag of chips for his gifts. We shall have a little party here at the restaurant and get people to sing with us!

We took a day trip the other day down to Palolem beach where I have twice stayed in the past. It was hugely depressing. The beach is now overcrowded and dirty. I would never stay there now, as it is party central. Apparently they have "silent parties" where everyone gets headphones and techno/trance music is pumped into the headphones. People do a bunch of drugs and mill around with headphones on. They can take them off to chat with each other when they feel like it. How bizarre.

I have seen many things change here in the past 5 years. India is growing like mad and changing rapidly. It is truly amazing to see and recognize these changes. In the past, young women wore Salwaar Kameez on a daily basis. These have now been replaced with blue jeans. It is very sad. The Salwaar Kameez are beautiful 2 piece clothing sets that women wear, along with a large scarf that matches. They are super comfy and come in many colors and styles. Now women wear them mostly for special occasions. I also have noticed a lack of bangles. Before, everyone had sets of glass bangles or Lac bangles of some kind. Now...almost nothing. Maybe one or two instead of 10 or 20. And the prices have risen dramatically, which has messed with our budget somewhat. The food at the beach was previously about 50-100 rupees ($1-2) per person per meal. Now it is about 150-250 rupees ($3-5) per person per meal. Even though that is still way less than at home, it is more than I had bargained for. I could go on and on about the changes in India, culturally and politically, but I think I will save that for another time.

On the other hand, when we told the owner of our Guest House we were staying longer, he reduced the price of our stay by half, even retroactively. I was super surprised. And then I got wary, wondering what the catch was. That day there was no electricity and I thought perhaps he was reducing the rate because the electricity was never going to come back on! But it has. So we will let it be and hope for the best. I hate that I distrust things such as that, but there is a reason and that reason is experience.

Jamie took a cooking class yesterday. I am super proud of him for going and learning how to make some Indian food.He has some experience with it from cooking at home, but he said he learned a lot anyway. He had a good time and came back with a little homemade cookbook. Walker and I chilled out and played in the sand and read while Pa was gone. We are enjoying the food and the kinds of food available. From a simple shrimp sandwich with the crusts cut off to a delightful seafood salad with yummy veggies to masala omelettes to tandoori chicken....I am eating myself into a very fat stomach. But! But! It is so delicious and fun to eat!

We are thinking about taking a day trip to a spice plantation and elephant home. It is kinda far away (3 hours each way) but I really want to go. We'll see how that pans out. We need to do a little more research on it 1st.

So....that's what's happening here, folks. Drop us a line and let us know what is happening with you!


Anonymous said...

I'm looking forward to Jamie cooking up some Indian meals when I come to visit! I can't imagine how different India is from when I was 17 years ago!! Holy Sh$t!

Love y'all

Anonymous said...

Jo, love the blot, v.e.r.r.y interesting. Happy birthday to Walker from: GiGi &Doc

Ms. Amy said...

Hello Stirling Family. I am sending you this message for Walker's Birthday.

Walker How amazing that you are spending your Birthday a whole world away from your home. Do you know how lucky you are. I can not imagine how incredible your adventure has been! I am enjoying reading your mom and dads blog and seeing pictures of you. I miss you so very much. I know you will have so much to tell us when you get home, and I can hardly wait to hear it all!

From all of your Friends at Merrimon Ave. Preschool....

Love you so much,
Ms. Amy