Vacation Day 1

We were originally going to Pondicherry for the Diwali vacation, but seeing as we couldn’t get tickets, and not going somewhere was not an option, we decided to go to Hampi. I’m sitting and writing the first entry from Manoj’s computer from the terrace of our hotel. It’s amazing. Today was amazing. We got on a bus last night at 10:30 and slept until 8am this morning. This excludes all the times we were jolted awake by bumps in the road. At some point the bus went over a bump so fast that I was thrown out of my seat upwards. I was in such a daze though that I fell right back to sleep. The bus looked like a comfortable school bus. The seats reclined really far so it wasn’t bad at all. When we woke up I realized that everything was in Kannada, the language of Karnataka. Karnataka is the state right below Maharashtra. It not only has another language, but another script all together. It took us until 11 to reach. We got off the bus, rejected all the rickshaw drivers, especially when a woman who was on the bus with us told us that we could take the bus from down the road. All of the rickshaw drivers looked at her with the “are you kidding me” look and said that she was stopping a sale. We couldn’t do anything but laugh and say thank you. We stopped at a “fast food” place where we stood outside, got some upma and dosa and filter coffee. The coffee was amazing. You just don’t get good coffee in Pune unless you search for a South Indian place.
We found the bus, sat, and watched as the city melted away and we went to the small town of Hampi. I can’t say anything else than it’s beautiful. We dropped our stuff at the hotel, rented bicycles, and rode around the town, stopping here and there for photos. We ended up at the end of the town and the beginning of a banana tree plantation. The road kept going so we kept going. Apparently there was a waterfall at the end of the path, so we parked our bikes, and with the help of some guys loading bananas we went on our way. We walked through banana fields, which was really fun. We saw two snakes; small but big enough to freak me out for some time. We got to a little brook. It’s the quietest and stillest I’ve felt in a long time. It was beautiful. The brook had some little animal that stuck its head out of the water for a minute, but once we noticed it, it stuck its head back in and didn’t come back out. After sitting in the serenity for a while we continued on the rocks for a few minutes before turning back. Dogs barked ahead and something went running. It took us a minute to figure out that they were a bunch of huge monkeys. There are a lot of them around here. We walked back, picked up two baby bananas that were on a fallen branch, ate them and continued. Once we were out of the “wood” we biked back, running back into the same banana farmers. Everyone, and I mean everyone down here has been so friendly. I’m not used to it. When we passed people in the street they would say Namaste. It reminds me of Guatemala where everyone in the neighborhood would say “Buenos dias” as you walked down the street.
Instead of going back the way we came we rode through the village, were greeted by more namastes and took some pictures of the village. There was a boy showering in a spicket on the street. There was a girl selling chilies. I stopped to take pictures of the chilies and a few children came out of the house because they wanted to be in a picture as well. As we continued our journey some kids jumped on the back of Manoj’s bike and then mine and wanted us to drive them around. We did a few back and forths on the road and while Manoj was with some kids I stopped to talk to a woman who was standing outside of her home. The kids weren’t hers, they’re just from the neighborhood. We spoke a bit about where I’m from, I did the whole conversation in Hindi. Most people here learn Kannada then English and then Hindi in schools. It was nice to feel like I know something again.
We ran into the banana farmers again and said hello again. Their machetes are so cool and I need something like it in case I want to make arames (part of the instrument for capoeira) where you take the wire out of a tire. So we asked them where we might be able to find a machete. Apparently the guy who was making them less than 20 meters away. He was sitting on the road side underneath a tree covering surrounded by sheep. He had a great contraption to keep the fire going and was using a hammer to make different kinds of large knives and machetes. I’m going back tomorrow at 3 to pick up my machete. Everyone that was sitting with the banana farmers came to watch the transaction.
We kept going, starving, and thirsty, and found a thali place for lunch. There are a lot of tourists here. Many of them are Israeli. Even the thali guy asked if I was Israeli. They had great chapattis and the sabjis weren’t bad, but it was a lot of food. We walked around, found a different hotel for tomorrow night that’s half the price and spoke to the Italian guy who was subbing in for the owner for a while. He’s been coming from Italy to India since the 70s. He kept saying that it’s not like it used to be. We sat with him for a while and talked about India, the problems it’s facing currently, and then headed out. I shopped for me and for friends, and we headed back to the hotel to take care of resting. I fell asleep on the roof terrace reading my book. I really, really needed a vacation. We went on a walk to get some food for dinner and visited the Virupaksha Temple on our way back. There was a ceremony to put the gods to sleep. It was nice to be able to watch it. They took the statues out of the front temple, played music (clarinet, trumpet and dholak (a kind of drum with the drumming part on both sides that you play with your hands and a stick)). We followed the procession through the temple. They included us in a part of the last bit of the aarti (ceremony) where you scoop the fire from the dish it’s burning in, and gave us yogurt. It was really nice of them.

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