Sunday, October 31, 2010


September 17, 2010

I woke up to the monkeys this morning, chatting it up outside my window.


There were more than ten of them just outside my window! Three of them were intently watching me. They were only about 5 feet away! I was trying to sign language to them. But then I realized that I don't speak sign language, and neither do they. So much for that idea.

Lengurs and macaques. Those are the two most common monkeys here. Or maybe they are the only monkeys here. The only monkeys I have seen at least!

Watching the monkey's is my new favorite thing to do, by far.

Currently I am eating lunch in the dining hut and watching some monkey's play a silly game.

They are competing to try to get to the highest point of a particular tree, and they keep climbing over each other to try and get there. It's amazing how far these little guys can jump. They would completely annihilate all of the worlds best athletes at the olympics in a heart beat!! They can jump very long distances! Although sometimes they misjudge the distances. I've seen it a few times where the monkey's have taken a pretty hefty fall. Yesterday I saw a couple monkeys splash into the river as they were trying to jump from rock to rock. But they are amazing swimmers, and even with the strong current, they reach their destination just fine!

Anyway.. These monkey's I am watching, if I didn't know better, I would think they were made out of rubber! Many of them keep falling down the entire span of the tree!!! It doesn't even phase them though, they just climb back up, over the others to try and get to the top again. There is one branch that is the tallest point on this particular tree, and right now a baby monkey is balancing on the top of that little top branch. He is so teeny, that it doesn't sway at all.

And suddenly another baby monkey joins him at the top? How many baby monkey's can this wee branch hold?? Looks like three, now four, OMG FOUR baby monkey's are on this teeny branch at the top of the tree! Hahah, and four baby monkeys just got sprung from the top of the treee!!!!!! four baby monkeys is obviously too much weight.

And no worries, all monkeys sprung from the top of the tree are safe and unharmed.
Monkey's are amazing.

I love India.

Friday, October 29, 2010


September 16th 2010

Most amazing day ever.

We arrived in Hampi this morning at 7am from Hyderabad.

A bit about Hampi
Hampi is a tourist hotspot, luckily we are here in the low time for tourists.

Many rock climbers come to this area because of the amazing round piles of rock. When I saw pictures of Hampi before I arrived, it didn't look special at all, but being here, it's really hard to not look at these huge hills without amazement. The rocks were formed by volcanic activity thousands of years ago, and have been shaped by water and wind since. It's incredible because, there are so many rocks that are balancing on top of each other. Many places there are 4 or 5 huge boulders balancing on top of the other! Apart from the amazing geology the ruins of the old Kingdom of Hampi are more than 500 years old. I've also heard of a village nearby surpassing that age by another 9,500 years!

The locals say that Hampi was the birth place of Hanuman, the Hindu monkey god. Hanuman is the devoted servant of Ram, and he is known for his selfless service.

Our day off in Hampi
When we arrived we drove through the old kingdom of Hampi, the ruins surround all of the present buildings and businesses.


In order to get to the eco-resort that we will be staying at we had to cross a river. We crossed the river on a small boat, with 8 foreigners, who were either tourists or backpackers.


From the middle of the river.


Once we arrived to the other side of the river, we ate a restaurant. It was the first time I saw eggs and toast on a menu! Definitely a bit westernized. At the restaurant I saw my first elephant!


I saw it across the river we just crossed. Apparently this elephant lives in one of the old temples, to benefit the tourist industry.

We finally made it to our Eco host site. Last year Rico built a wetlands for Bobbi, the man who owns the resort. So this is not so much a business visit as it is, a friend reunion and a bit of a vacation for Ameli and Rico.

After we arrived, Bobbi took us out in his jeep to see the wetlands. Rico hadn't seen the site since last year when everything was being worked on, and there was only dry soil to work with.

The following pictures are from the drive to the wetlands!



The drive to the wetlands was a crazy one! We drove up a stream, rocks and all!!


and these pictures are from the easiest part of the drive!!

We finally made it to the wetlands that Rico made a couple of years ago.


This area used to be completely dry! Now it's completely part of the landscape and we saw monkey's come drink and hang out by the edge of it. We kept our eyes peeled for leopards and tigers, but we didn't get lucky.

On the way back to the resort, we got stuck in the rocky segment of the stream. Rico and I had to get out and push. In the middle of a raging stream! However, no worries! We made it out alright!

Afterwards we saw a dog with a huge spike collar! It must have had 4 or 5 rows of foot long spikes!.. okay so maybe 6''.. but still the collar was huge! Bobbi says that it's to protect the dog against the tigers.


We came back to the resort, met up with a bunch of Bobbi's friends, and then we started the hike up to his cave home!

We hiked through the wild country of big cats and alligators.. First we rode a round basket boat across the river.




7 people per boat, one of Bobbi's servants took us across. We hiked across 2 creeks, in search of crocodiles.. we found the tracks of a small one.. but never saw it.



The cave was amazing! It was a maze inside layers of boulders. And the balcony of the home was the top of the boulder, a magical staircase from the inside of the cave wrapped itself up and around the boulder to the top!!

The view was incredible.

These pictures do not do the view justice. Just so you are aware! :)






Trying to spot crocs from the top!

On our way back to the resort, just as we were about to take the little round basket boat back across we spotted otters on the other side of the river playing! I didn't realize how huge they were! They looked about 5' long! There were about 7 and they were running up the side of the river bank and then sliding and rolling back down the river bank over and over again. It was so cute to watch it almost beat the cuteness of when puppies can't control how much they slide on linoleum floor. Okay so maybe just as cute. So cute!! :)

These creatures are said to be super shy. It was even the first time that Bobbi had seem them, it took 8 years!!! So, we felt pretty blessed!

We got back to the house/castle/resort.. beautiful area. Rested a bit, and went out to sit at the campfire, the barbequers made 'poppers' kinda tasted like a sardine but was a really thin crispy tortilla cracker. They also made these tasty spicy potato cakes with cilantro and lime.

A bunch of musicians came to visit, and there was a jam session involving african drums, sax and a keyboard!

Dinner was eaten at midnight, which is actually common to do!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Drawing Maps in Hyderabad

September 15th
Drawing Maps in Hyderabad

This morning we ate breakfast at the hotel. I was finally able to sample all of the different kinds of breakfast 'breads' that are common for breakfast in India. My favorite are still doshas, but the vadas (spicy small donuts) aren't bad either.

During breakfast, I was trying to take my miniature banana (the small bananas are much more common here) out of its peel and it went flying! Luckily I caught it, but all the servers and other customers were just staring! Haha well they saw the whole show anyway because it seems like everybody is always staring, foreigners in grungy farm clothes really aren't a common occurrence!

But 5 minutes after I had my incident Ameli 's banana also shot out of her banana peel and was gone!

The bananas in India are apparently alive.

We couldn't stop laughing it was so ridiculous.

As if we hadn't drawn enough attention to ourselves already.

After our entertaining morning, we met up with Rico and began to draw overlays and maps for the design. I was assigned to drawing the design for the huts that will be at Life University.


A bit hard to see!
But it was worth a try

After the work, Ameli needed to get a new battery for her mac, so we headed off into Hyderabad with a driver who couldn't speak English. He kept stopping at random places and trying to convince us that we were at the mac building, while every time it obviously wasn't the right place. Somehow we finally made it to the huge mac building. We waited for a while for her battery to be ready. Once we got it we drove back through the crazy traffic of cars, people, cows, dogs and motorcycles to the hotel. We had to hurriedly get some dinner before the business meeting with one of the main organizers for Life University.

We didn't have much time because our train to Hampi was leaving at 9pm, and we only had a couple of hours to spare and we didn't want to miss it.

But everything worked out and we made it to our train in time, and we didn't have seats next to the toilet this time!!! So exciting :)

Leaving Vikarabad

September 14th 2010

Today we arrived in our new hotel in Hyderabad, what a difference! The streets are cleaner, there is toilet paper again and the hotel is amazing! Excellent food and room service! We even have wireless internet!

Haha I've never felt more like a materialist in my life!

Oh and I started a photobucket account, I haven't had the chance to put up many of the pictures yet from the trip, but they will come soon! There are a few pictures up, I just haven't had the time to label them or anything but feel free to check them out.

My user name is schmaizee101, at


Hotel living in Vikarabad.

September 13th 2010

Today I decided to stay back at the hotel, while Rico and Ameli wandered the site of LU.

I was feeling a bit out of energy from the week, and thought it might be good to rest before we travel tomorrow to Hydrabad, and the next day to Hampi. To get to Hampi, we will be taking an overnight train again. I am praying for seats other than the ones near the toilets..

I did some laundry today, in a bucket, in the bathroom. The bathroom is our dish washing station, shower, and laundry. It gets really gross. We have two mats that our room came with and we put them outside of the bathroom so we can dry our feet when we leave the bathroom. But both of the mats are molding because it's always wet and muddy everywhere in the bathroom or sloppy with food (from doing the dishes). I try to rinse the bathroom floor down everytime I go in, but it's of no use, it just gets gross again. We have gotten one towel each for the whole week, and no toilet paper. So thats a fun one.

Hand washing clothes is a big chore! I washed them for three hours at the beginning of the week after that overnight train ride, then it took my clothes 4 days to dry because of the humidity, and because of the amount of time it took, my clothes began to mold! So I had to wash them all again today. And even though it stopped raining for a bit, (and I was able to dry them outside) I thought I had a decent chance of nonsmelly moldy clothes, I was wrong... they still smell :(

Looks like I'll be shopping soon.

Oh Vakarabad.

We have been surviving mostly off of packaged foods (crackers) and 'boil dinners' (which are basically microwave dinners, but 'boil dinners' come in a little baggies that are placed in boiling water instead). We would probably try to cook ourselves more if we had a proper kitchen or if the local produce wasn't so questionable. Sandwiches might not even be a bad idea if there was a loaf of bread to be found around here without hairs as the main ingredient.

When Ameli and Rico came back from the land, we worked on maps for the first acre of BhodiSthaan (Life University) all afternoon. We are planning for 12 people to live there and occasionally 100, in the case of events and volunteer projects.

Other than that.. im excited to see the next project (and location).

Tree Planting Extravaganza at Life University

September 12th 2010

Today a few people from Hydrabad picked us up from the hotel and we all drove up to Life University. The first thing we walked in on, were the workers digging away for the 3 ponds that will be put in at the entrance of the site. They were digging holes in the wrong spot, as well as the wrong shape and structure.

Emergency planning session for Rico and Ameli to figure out exactly how they can fix the pond situation and and make sure the situation will be sustainable and functional.


I meandered my way up to the main huts, to see how the tree planting was going. There were about 50 or so volunteers, and 1,000 trees to be planted. Holes had been dug by the villagers on the perimeter of the land. The holes were fairly close to each other and some of the holes were right next to already situated bigger trees. Suddenly all of the trees were being planted and there wasn't much consideration for the correct spacing. But the excitement was too high for planting trees. The trees would just have to work it out on their own.


We rode a big tractor up to the other side of the property. People kept piling on, I was sitting on the wheel cover, Ameli and Rico on the other wheel, somebody was sharing a seat with the driver, and in the back trailor, people had piled ontop of the tree saplings and there were also people balancing on the beam that connected the tractor to the trailor. It was a bit of a bumpy ride, and I almost lost my blouse to the tire! I felt a pull, and luckily I got it in time so that the only damage was the corner of my shirt was caked in muddy wonderfullness.



We got to the boundary and planted more trees. There were all sorts of trees, everything from neem to lemon, mango and people trees!

We all took a lunch break.

I came back to the main hut and had myself a seat on a mat they had spread out for everyone. The women were handing out leaf plates and paper cups to everyone. Then they served us fried rice, pickled vegetables (looks like a small gop of stemmy seaweed), spicy potatoe stew thing, yogurt/coconut spicy thing, and then 'cold rice' to help ease the spicyness of it all. They were so cute and worried about me, they gave me a green banana. And told me to take a bite of the banana between every bite. The women continued to walk around and make sure everyone's plates were full. They didn't sit down to eat until everyone was finished eating.

Today was the first day that I ate with my right hand. There were no utensils. The most awkward part was trying to peel and eat my unripe banana with messy spicy rice hands.


I am still alive.

Indian culture is fun.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pre-celebration of Ganesh

September 11th 2010

Ganesh is one of the Hindi Gods. He has a body of a small boy and a head of a baby elephant. People pray to him when they are starting something new, or starting anything. They pray to him for help in eliminating their obstacles and achieving their goals.



To celebrate Ganesh, people create and decorate huge clay statues of Ganesh and drive them to a river (or body of water) to set them off. Today isn't quite the real celebration yet, it was only the day that everyone finished their Ganesh statues to show them off to the town. So everyone who had finished a statue, drove around town all day with their statues displayed in their truck beds. In a week or so they will drift the statues off into a body of water. The river's here are highly revered and being dunked in a river is said to take away all of your bad karma.

We went out for breakfast this morning. It took us a while to find a clean place to eat, but we were finally directed to a place near the train station and we ate doshas, one of the 2 dishes that I know. It's a huge pancake/soft crispy taco and it's usually filled with different curried foods, and is always served with a side of coconut sauce.

For lunch we ate crackers, veg puffs (a crossaint type thing with spicy vegetables inside), and mango juice.

When we got back to the hotel we worked on the plans for Life University. We started figuring out the plans for the first acre (which is named BhodiSthaan). There will be a few workers that need to set up camp at the site to learn the features of the land more clearly before the big plans for building and developing the site take place. Once the first acre is established, workshops and short courses will start. So far we have placed six huts, storage/work yard, a bamboo perimeter fence, a meditation hut and garden, and an herb garden and vegetable gardens onto our map design.


Finally making it to the land

September 10th, 2010

Yesterday we finally were able to make to the land where Life University will be.

And today, we went back to the land to point out to some fence makers where the fence needed to be around acre number 1 of the site.

So we wandered around a bit, and unfortunately I accidentally deleted all of my pictures off of my camera from today :(

One of today's highlights:
I saw the biggest beetle I've ever seen today. Since I lost all of my pictures, I improvised so you could see it anyway!


My apologies for my lack of ability with Paint, but this beetle is to scale!

While we were walking around the property figuring out exactly where the fence needed to go I found myself losing focus a bit as the sun was very heavy and the atmosphere sticky and humid. So it was almost perfect timing when all of a sudden a goat kid came running at me from no where!!

I started laughing because it was just so random, and as soon as it came up to me.. I reached out my hand.. and it totally blew me off.

Then a couple seconds later, the goat herder came angrily towards where I was standing, and was making the weirdest noises I have ever heard come out of a person!! Haha at first I thought he was grunting obnoxious sounds at me, since he was looking right at me, and then he wacked the goat with the stick and carried on. He was wearing a button up shirt, a sheet wrapped around his waste in the form of a skirt/shorts, and something that looked like a canvas/straw cape/hood over his head.

After about another hour of walking around, the goats kept sneaking away one by one from the herder to follow us, and the herder kept getting really angry.

I was just fully entertained by the whole situation.

I started filming (again which I accidentally deleted ) one of the little goats that kept running at me, and as soon as I turned on my camera the kid started hopping around, as if it were performing just for the camera.

I was super excited to post that.. but hopefully your imagination will suffice!