Carolyn, Vern & Cooper left Calgary on June 30, 2015 and traveled for 13 months. They spent time in 22 countries: Canada (Inuvik & Tuktoyaktuk), Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, Antarctica, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Madagascar, Seychelles, United Arab Emirates (Dubai), India, Vietnam, Singapore, France, Monaco, Italy, Germany. They returned to Canada in August 2016. Next adventure: live in Europe for a few years?
It is 43 degrees today in Varanasi, India. To say that we are
hot is an understatement. We arrived yesterday and are staying for a week
- there is every reason to believe that it will only get hotter. But we
are sticking with our budget accommodation on the ghats of the holy River Ganges
where the thirty-year old air conditioner is struggling to keep our room at
around 32 degrees. One unexpected thing is that the 'cold' water tap
delivers scorching hot water...makes sense that all the old plumbing is getting
heated too, which sadly means no cooling showers for us as an escape from the
We briefly considered moving to a better hotel in the main city, to
secure climate-controlled comfort, but dismissed the idea because it would be
far away from the main attraction in this ancient city: everything that happens in and around the sacred
waters of the river.
Varanasi is the spiritual capital of India, they say. There is a magical feeling here. Vern and I spent a couple weeks here fourteen years ago, and we loved it – so we also wanted Cooper to feel what it’s like to be
wrapped in the arms of Mother Ganga (what the Hindu people call the river).
Spending time in this area is an amazing experience. The noise and chaos of cars, tuk tuks and
rickshaws are all far away, too big for the narrow old alleys. Instead, there are cows and monkeys, funeral
processions and wedding drums, brahmins and beggars, garbage and more garbage, oil lamps and bells ringing, fireworks and chanting,
kids and dying pilgrims, all littering the walkways (literally and
figuratively)…and it’s impossible to avoid being touched by it all (literally
Today, I was standing still for a moment, half under an awning, when I suddenly felt
warm liquid on my shoulder and arm. I
looked up to see what this might be and where it was coming from – and I realized
that it must be monkey pee!! Up on the
electrical wires, I could see its red bum dripping. Ick. This was a first for me. While walking through these narrow alleys, I’m
always aware of hazards from front & behind (motorcycles and bikes), and
underfoot (cow poop), but now I know that I should also be aware of what is above!
As I type this, there is beautiful singing come into our hotel room from a temple across from us - if I open this window, I can almost reach across and open theirs. Same singing yesterday, we guess it will happen every evening - lovely (and also nice that it ends long before bedtime!). There is much more to write about Varanasi, but we must go find some dinner soon! More later.
Over the past few weeks, we also spent time in southern India,
houseboating on the backwaters of Kerala, hiking through tea plantations high
in the hills near Munnar, and tapping rubber trees in the foothills of Thodupuzha.
Then a flight north to Delhi for a couple days, followed by a train to Agra and the requisite visit to the magnificent Taj Mahal. Another train a couple days later took us to Khajuraho where we visited temples with the most amazing and detailed carvings we have ever seen anywhere in the world - simply incredible.
Click here to see the rest of the pictures from our world trip so far: Trip Photo Album