HOT, sticky, hot, humid, sweaty, hot, hot, wet, sticky, hot, wet, hot, hot, suffocating, hot!
I have, never, ever, ever, been this hot and wet in my whole life just by standing and breathing.
~It's actually pretty funny~
This was the little bus that picked our group up from the Courtyard Marriot in Chennai (said CHE-nye, emphasis on the first syllable). We have 9 volunteers in our group which is very small and I'm happy. After today, it feels like we're all friends already. I mean, you can't really see each other as hot and sweaty as we all were and not gain an instant sense of shared suffering, humor, and friendship. I wouldn't change this experience for anything!
We rode two hours out to our town with every window open and even the door. It always amazes me with how much there is to see in the world, and how much can be taken in and learned just by looking out a window.
Before I leave on a trip I have a hard time wrapping my mind around leaving America and really grasping the thought of being somewhere foreign. Naturally, I always feel a little anxious and worry about getting started with everything. Then something changes in me. It's like there's a part of me that wakes up when I first get a good look at a new culture, a new people, and a new way of life. It's such a feeling of energy and inability to possibly take it all in. Every sight, sound, smell, face...it's so full of difference, and life!
The traffic was like a game of chicken. Who can get the closest to others and then swerve at the last minute. But I guess that's just everyday driving here. I swear I could sit for hours in a bus and just watch the world out the window if you put me in any foreign country.
Our first stop was at a store to get our last taste of any Western culture we could find. I have never seen a can with that much condensation on it so fast. Within minutes it went from cold to almost hot.
Kenady, me, and Lauren
Then to another to pick up lots of fruits and veggies that our house moms will make all our meals with. These people were SO excited to see us. Once again, I feel famous everywhere I go.
Heather & I in our Chudidars.
As soon as we got to the campus we all changed out of our hot clothes. I have been soooo excited to wear these outfits. Like seriously my whole life. They have a whole closet full of them we can choose from each day. Surprisingly they are very airy and feel more comfortable than our Western tight clothes. After a quick and good lunch, we had a mtg. in the mango room (every room has a name of some animal or fruit) then took a tour of the grounds. RSO (Rising Star Outreach) has acres of beautiful green ground that they couldn't believe fell into their hands.
We are only the second group ever to stay in this hostel. The fence in the backyard is going to become a mural of paintings and themes of groups coming to serve with RSO. Ours will be the space to the right, so we're all planning up something special that will be memorable for our group to leave behind.
Took a tour of the campus. This is the 'old' school house that's getting a face lift. The 'new' one is connected to it, looks the same but brand new.
The kids are all off campus for one week and this is the surprise they will all come back to. 80% of the kids come from the leper colonies, but in an attempt to not make the school a 'colony school' the other 20% come from neighboring villages. Looks like a legitimate class room. Most schools in India boast of having 1 computer, and Rising Star will now be able to provide 70!
Thought this was poetic to find a rusty old random star in the new Rising Star school house.
This is the new library we will be working in this week to fill with books and make presentable. I was really impressed to see and hear all that this organization has been able to make happen in only 8 years. All the buildings, programs for the kids, jobs for the villagers, etc. All while making sure to maintain the culture and not impress Western ideals. That is the reason we all wear the Chudidars. We want to blend with the culture.
This is the top of the kids dormitories where we eat dinner every night and share with each other our highs and lows of the day. Scenic.
We ate our dinner with only the moonlight, and everything was homemade.
They give us banana leaves to eat on because they are naturally antibacterial, plus it's easy clean up.
Folks...let's just say that I cannot as of yet add taking a bucket shower to my list of talents. This is going to take some practice. As we were all in the stalls next to each other, I yelled to the girls, "Is it bad that I feel just as wet in this shower as I have felt all day?" We all agreed it was seriously harder then it should seem, but cold showers never felt so good.
Oh, and on the upside, I moved my bucket and a good sized yellow frog jumped out from behind it and right into the bathroom/hole in the floor across from me (below).
So it's hot, sticky, and wet, but I'm loving it all!
Hope everyone enjoys their frog free showers tomorrow :)