Back by “Popular” Demand

Hello loyal follower(s). After what seems like forever, I am finally graduating from college. I’m joining the Peace Corps, and assuming I get medical clearance, I will be going to Mozambique at the end of August to teach high school science (and maybe English). Some people asked if I would do another blog to keep in touch, and my initial thought was to just add on to this one because I’m lazy. However, when put in the context of working with kids in Africa, “Hangin with Monkeys” doesn’t seem like an appropriate name for a blog so I made a new one ( I’m writing this post because I figured it might be convenient for any family, friends, or anybody else who automatically gets an email when I post something new to move to the new blog. If you do get notified when I post something but have no interest in following my new blog, feel free to ignore this!


Our Last Adventure

When we were in Ecuador and had a crazy adventure we’d laugh because it meant we were on real journey, not a tourist get away. When we got stranded in China we weren’t super happy, but we appreciated that we’d laugh about it one day. In India when we had unexpected adventures we rolled our eyes and sighed. If ever there was the time I didn’t want an adventure, it was the already incredibly long journey home. Here is the story of our crazy couple days on the way home. Our last hotel was about 7 hours away from the airport, and our guide recommended arriving at the airport at least 4 hours early. Plus, the roads are so unpredictable in India that we gave ourselves 3 extra hours just in case. The trip felt like it took forever. Finally, we stopped at a little Indian fast food restaurant near the airport. I got a sandwich that was incredibly greasy. I knew my stomach would regret that decision later, but I was so hungry that I ate it anyways. Liza already wasn’t feeling good so she spent the whole time I was eating in the bathroom throwing up. Then she was so dehydrated, hungry, and tired that she looked really pale and had really bad headaches. Finally, we made it to the airport at 3:30 PM, 7 hours before or flight was supposed to depart. They told us we couldn’t even print our tickets until 3 hours before our flight. We couldn’t get the wifi at the airport to work so we played cards for 4 hours. At 7:30 we went to get our ticket and they told us our flight was delayed until 1 AM. That meant we’d miss our flight from Newark, NJ to Minneapolis so they moved us from the 6:45 AM flight to a noon flight. So we sat around waiting and suddenly I broke out in hives. I think it was from how tired and stressed I was. I was so itchy that I hardly slept on our incredibly hot, 15 hour, overnight flight to Newark. When we finally landed we went through immigration and customs, which was good because it meant we wouldn’t have to do that in Minneapolis. We could just pick up our bags and go home. When we finished with that, at about 7:45 AM, we went to find our gate. We looked at one of the information screens and saw that the 6:45 flight that we were supposed to be on got delayed until 9:45 AM. That was a much shorter wait so we asked if we could be put back on that flight. Fortunately (unfortunately, actually) we got put on that flight. Then for the next several hours it got delayed by half an hour, every half hour. A flight from Baltimore got delayed, and they weren’t sure when it was coming so they kept pushing the departure time back. Finally, 40 minutes after the flight we were supposed to be on initially left, we took off for Minneapolis. It was the longest 3 hours ever. When we finally landed we got vouchers for a free alcoholic beverage on our next flight. That does me a lot of good since I’m 19. When I finally got home everything was perfect! Everyone loved their presents, I took a real shower, flushed toilet paper down the toilet, and ate a 20 oz t-bone steak. My mom also bought a bunch of fruit roll ups and salt and vinegar chips, my favorite junk food. Now I have to start figuring out what to do with myself this summer. I think I want to try a triathlon.Image

Rajasthan Tour

I believe that in an earlier blog post I mentioned that our tax refund money came so we could afford to take a two week tour of Rajasthan. It was great! We saw a lot of forts, temples, and royal palaces. We also took a camel safari where we rode camels out into the sand dunes and watched the sun set. Our guide was really friendly, and he knew all of the best restaurants. They ¬†weren’t the tourist restaurants with only Westerners drinking Coke and eating french fries talking about how much they prefer Indian culture to Western culture. They were restaurants filled with locals, and they were delicious! Plus they were about half of the price of the tourist places. The one thing that bothered me was the fort to temple ratio. For every nice temple there was at least two giant forts. Apparently, before the British took over, every city had a king, and, apparently, they preferred war to prayer. The other little disappointment came from the fact that a lot of the monuments in India aren’t more than a couple hundred years old. I thought everything was ancient, and I know at least one fort was 900 years old, but for some reason I thought everything would be at least that old. The only other minor inconvenience was the roads in India. We had 4-8 hour car rides every day, and we never went over 35 mph. The roads are so crowded and disorganized that we never were able to go too fast. Plus, every 30 seconds we almost died because we had to swerve into oncoming traffic to avoid hitting a cow. I only slept for about 15 minutes in one car ride. Liza slept through the entirety of every single ride. I was so bored. All in all, though, we had a blast. It was the bang that we wanted the trip to end with!


How’s This for a Sunrise?

The Taj Mahal was built by Shah Jahan to be the final resting place of his wife. When she died he moved to the US and became a singer. He won 10 Grammys with hits like “I’m Every Woman.” Or maybe that was Chaka Khan. I get them mixed up sometimes.



Finally, Some Decent One Stop Shopping!

I’m sick of buying wine at one shop then having to drive across town just to buy some bears.


I Wanted a Picture of a Tiger, but This Will Have to Do


The Beginning of the End

We are a couple days into our tour now, and we are having a lot of fun. First we did a tour of Delhi. It was great! We saw the Red Fort, Jama Masjid which is an old mosque, a lot of Ghandi memorials, the India Gate, Humayun’s Tomb, and much more. Two of my favorites were the Lotus Temple and Lodi Park. Lodi Park was a beautiful park with a lot of old mosques and tombs. It was so cool because they looked like something on a fictional movie. They were they big, grey, run down buildings with vines and palm trees around them.
After Delhi we headed to Agra. The first night we saw some sights including the Agra Fort. The Red Fort is more famous, but I thought the Agra Fort was more impressive. The Mughals, who built the fort, were so big on symmetry in their architecture that we almost got lost. Everything looks the same from every side and if there’s a big square plaza, all of the gates surrounding it are the same. The next morning we woke up at sunrise to see the Taj Mahal. The way the light hits it in the morning makes it look the most beautiful shade of orange. I ran over to the side to get a picture of the sun coming up behind it. I was surprised because I thought everyone would want that picture, but I was the only one. Again, they were so big on symmetry that a picture from the front of the Taj Mahal looks exactly the same as a picture from the side.
Now we’re staying near Ranthambore National Park. We did a safari this morning. We didn’t see any tigers, but we saw a lot of other animals. It’s amazing how many animals there are when there aren’t crazy red necks running around shooting them all with military grade assault weapons. We saw a ton of deer, a ton of peacocks, a ton of monkeys, a jackal, wild boar, crocodiles, and a ton of beautiful birds. We have one more safari tonight so hopefully we’ll see a tiger!
In other news, we’ve booked our tickets home! I’ll be some the morning of March 15th! I’ve had a ton of fun, and I’ll continue to have fun, but I’m still really excited to be home. I thought travelling would be relaxing, but there’s so little margin for error so we’ve constantly been planning, stressing, worrying about money, unpacking, and packing. I can’t wait to take a breather and watch some crappy American TV.
We haven’t had a reliable Internet connection in a while, but I’ll keep trying to post pictures whenever I get the chance. I promise that in two weeks I’ll post my India slide show which will have all the pictures of everything we’ve seen!

No Sleep till Delhi!

This week’s crazy unwanted adventure started right after we left the Golden Temple. Liza started feeling sick. I wasn’t really surprised since most of the people at the temple also looked Sikh. We also have been having a ton of trouble booking train tickets online. It’s a very complicated process, and they were supposed to e-mail us a password but they never did. When they finally realized they had forgotten and sent it, the train we wanted was already fully booked. Liza wasn’t feeling good and the train was full so we decided to get a taxi. In India, you take a rickshaw to travel around one city, and taxis are for longer trips. Plus this would eliminate the stress of getting from the New Delhi train station to our hotel… so I thought. The ride was going well until we got just outside Delhi. Our driver pulled over and began talking to another guy who was pulled over and apparently lost. We followed him for the next five minutes then pulled over again. We gave the driver our hotel’s name address, and phone number. We even took out our map and put a dot where we wanted to go. No luck. The driver also didn’t speak any English so we had no idea what was going on. He started hailing rickshaws and talking to them. Most wound up just driving away. Finally he took our bags, tossed them in the rickshaw, and gestured for us to go with him. “Ummmm…” I thought, “does this guy know which hotel we’re going to or is he just going to bring us to a random hotel that pays him commission for bringing lost tourists there like I read about in the guide book?” Somehow we made it to our hotel. We went to the restaurant across the street. I got a vegetarian cheese burger and loved it. That’s how you know it was a stressful day. A vegetarian cheeseburger made me happy. Later that night, though, Liza really wasn’t feeling good. I took her temperature and it jumped from 99.4 to 101 degrees. I began to worry. We agreed that the stressful day may have made it worse so we decided to check again in the morning. In the morning, Liza wasn’t feeling much better, but her fever dropped back to 99.6 degrees. She laid in bed most of the day. By dinner time she was feeling much better, and her fever was all the way gone.

We’re beginning to get really exhausted with traveling and this latest adventure has made us really want to just do a few last things and go home. This being the plan, I went to a travel agent today to book a tour of the city and price out some options for our last week. He mentioned a tour of Rajasthan which was the exact itinerary I planned only several days shorter because we’d have a driver. Unfortunately this was way too expensive so we decided we’d probably have to do a shorter cheaper option, if we could even afford that. We went to the hotel and checked our bank account only to discover that Liza’s tax refund cleared! Now we can do the longer itinerary! We’re so excited! We have about two more weeks left before we head home, and it looks like it’ll be quite the adventure!

Adjusting the Colors on My Camera!

The Golden Temple is the holiest Sikh temple. Sikhism is a synthesis of Islam and Hinduism. It is a very peaceful religion. At the temple you can’t wear anything on your shoes and you must cover your head. Near the temple is a cafeteria where they provide over 50,000 free meals! It was a very unique place.


Golden Temple

We left the volunteer program a bit early because the day care workers went on strike so we’re doing a little sight seeing in our last couple weeks before we head home.