If I didn't have loved ones and a good job to come home to, I would stay forever. This week proved that I belong here even more than the last two. Except Monday, as I came home to find Anna had been sent to the hospital due to a high fever. I rushed from the train station at 6am to visit Anna, after a 'I couldn't sleep because strange men wouldn't stop staring at me' train ride of about 7 hours. Luckily she was awake and feeling much better. I sat with her for about an hour, of course trying to hold back how amazing Udaipur was, and then headed to the guesthouse for a wake up shower before work at 9:30am. It was a very, very long day for someone who literally was running on zero sleep.
I went back to see Anna in the hospital after work. She ended up coming home that night at around 8:00pm, while I was still well into my "30 minute" nap that I laid down for at 5:00pm...
We decided to mix things up at the school this week, so we spent Wednesday and Thursday teaching the geography of India and history of Jaipur. We were so worried the kids would find it boring, as I always dreaded going to those classes, but they surprisingly loved it. They didn't even want their 11am break, they wanted to keep learning! I didn't realize how little the kids knew about India. I asked "what's the capital of Rajasthan?" Silence. When we said Jaipur, they were in shock. I couldn't believe it. They definitely won't forget that one...
Because my partner in crime (Anna, of course) needed to take it easy, I spent some time with local friends on my nights off. Tuesday night I drank chai on the rooftop of Surana's at Tapri Tea House, and on Wednesday we crashed a royal wedding! We planned to drive up to Nahargarh Fort but didn't realize there was such a huge celebration happening. We were all obviously underdressed but strolled in anyways. It was pretty thrilling with no invitation in hand. I drank tropical juices and watched as the wedding party danced and sang and laughed. I even saw the winner's of India's Got Talent perform. I tried to search the name but I can't remember. I do have tons of videos though. Just ask!
Thursday night was spent at Jaigarh Fort with a healthy Anna and friends. We drank sodas and looked over the city of Jaipur, exploding with fireworks (it's wedding season here, and I mean like 500 a night...).
Friday was the most incredible day. We were given permission to take the kids on a field trip and took both the morning class and girls group to a nearby park. The girls dressed up and we danced in the shade, the boys played with frisbees and tennis balls, and the little ones ran around the playground and through the sprinklers. It was all just the most adorable sight I've ever seen. We were told most of those kids haven't even been outside of Jagatpura. It was really special that we could have the opportunity to take them. They ran and ran and ran until it was even too hot to sit. It really couldn't have been hotter. We were all running through the sprinklers before boarding the bus.
The most special part of the morning, as it was my last day with the program, was that all the kids got together and handed me a pile of gifts they had crafted for me. I broke out into tears. These kids are just so amazing and I love them all so much. They have nothing and still they wanted to give ME something. They inspire me and motivate me to continue fighting for change. They've given me a lot to go home with. I almost feel guilty for only taking 3 weeks off to help teach. It isn't fair for new people to come in, grow attached to these kids and then leave them. It's heartbreaking for both sides.
After an hour or two of depression in my room back at the guesthouse, I remembered that I had less than 48 hours left in Jaipur and needed to act on something exciting. Anna and I ended up going swimming, again, as we had done the day before. You truly don't understand the word refreshing until your body in soaked in sweat and then you get to jump into a nice, cold pool. We swam until our fingers wrinkled then headed back to the guesthouse for dinner.
We ended our night dancing our hearts out with a new comer to the guesthouse, Verana. ANOTHER German. I know...I couldn't believe it either. They are everywhere. I think they are trying to one up the Australians.
Fun fact: You will either meet a German or an Australian travelling, guaranteed! I'll even pinky swear on top of that.
This morning I said a very bittersweet goodbye to Anna. We know we will see each other again in the future but it's hard to think she won't be there anymore when I wake up. It's funny how in such a small amount of time, you can grow so close to someone while adventuring through the unknown together. Anna has such a special place in my heart. I don't think my experience would have been the same without her. I've already planned to visit Germany next year so we can take on some European cities together and I literally cannot wait.
After a quick breakfast, I rushed off to get a tuk tuk to Amber Fort. I ran into a guide while paying the driver and ended up bringing him along with me. He was very informative and made sure I paid attention to all the details of the palace. He was also my personal photographer, which is such a plus when you are travelling alone.
Okay, so how the Amber Fort works is like this 1) you can walk up a few slights of really steep stairs and sweat like crazy, but it's free or 2) pay 900 rupees to ride an elephant to the top. Now yes, 900 is a lot (even though if you convert it, it's like $15 Canadian) but it was my last day so I said 'f@*& it!' It was worth every penny. Except the fact that the elephant kept snorting on me. It was really cute and really disgusting at the same time. I also thought I would fall off the whole ride so I sat very awkwardly. But I did pose nicely for this shot.
My tuk tuk ride home was also extremely awkward, but for a very different reason. The driver continuously turned around to tell me how beautiful I was, while I pretended to be 30 and married. You can only turn someone down so many times before it literally drives you insane. I won't lie though, the men here make you feel like a superstar. Every corner you turn, you'll here a 'wowwwww' or a 'so beautiful' or 'your country must miss you'. I'm usually complimented on my hair too. They love to reach out and spring a curl. I would let the kids play with it all the time. They loved to lose pencils in it...I spent the afternoon walking about Bapu Bazaar purchasing last minute gifts and bangles that caught my eye. I also sat down for some henna and now have the most gorgeous designs on the inside and outside of my right hand. The only downfall about the experience was a pesky cockroach that kept crawling on my foot. I wanted to scream and run away but I couldn't. "Don't move!"
Tomorrow I will board a 6:00am train to Delhi and spend the day in the city before boarding to Canada in the evening....I don't want to go...