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Arrival in India!

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Hi everyone! Please bear with me because between my knowledge of blogs and the Internet in rural India you may have to be patient with how often I post. I have finally arrived in the place I will stay for the next month, Nallur. Nallur is located in Kerala India. The name means "best village"...I sure would not have wanted to travel for two days straight and then drive three hours to a village of a few hundred to stay in the "not so great village." My journey began in Phoenix, Arizona where I had been planning this journey for two and a half years. The non profit organization that I created, Women's Entrepreneurship Initiative (weicreatchange.org), was my college thesis about how micro-lending could make a large difference in the lives of rural Indian widows. From Arizona I flew five hours to Dulles Washington where I had to wait an hour for my bags on the carousel to then go wait two hours to check them in again for international travel. This didn't bother me as I had nothing better to do and was accompanied by a man I met on the Phoenix plane who was returning to Kuwait. He is a pilot in Kuwait and had just visited America for the first time. We shared stories in line about our homes and the time passed quickly. As I boarded the plane to Kuwait I could not believe the amenities in business class (as a student and non profit worker I definitely could not afford this but a family friend donated a buddy pass, thank you!) We ate on China and white linen table cloths while sitting in chairs that were like small condos fully equipped with TVs and reclining totally flat. I really can only comment on about the first twenty minutes of the flight as I slept through the next 12 hours and 40 minutes! Upon arriving in Kuwait my new found friend made sure to show me where food was and even tried to get me into the pilots lounge to rest there for the six hour layover but we were not allowed. It was my first real introduction to the culture shock I would experience. People were very friendly but very different from the U.S. There were Burqas everywhere and men in traditional Kuwaiti dress (the long white robes and cloth on their heads that are red and white checkered patterns). I even saw a girl that I though to be about my age with pink converse on under her her Burqa, it was so cool! I had also never seen so many ways to dress up a black outfit...some were jeweled, embroidered, and even had bits of color on them. In the airport it was refreshing to see some Americans..our troops! Many of our troops (as I did not know before this) fly commercial airlines through Kuwait. It was so neat to see all the camouflage backpacks and big boots. They were all very friendly and excited to go back to the U.S. After six hours and a trip to the baggage office to ask them to put my bag on the Cochin, India flight (I was not allowed down to baggage without a Visa) I was boarding my plane. I was stopped three separate times because I was the only American and I think they may have thought I was getting on the wrong plane. They kept asking my nation of origin and where I was going, haha! I followed along in line to a large bus that was packed full like a cattle truck. I jumped in and began talking with an Indian family around me (a mother, son, and daughter). I told them about why I was going and asked about India. After this short ride was over we all piled out of the bus into the dusty Kuwait evening. When people say red sky they mean it, there is nothing like it. It is truly dusty, dry, red, and so hard to breathe. We boarded the plane in what Americans would consider an "un-organized" fashion (everyone pushing and shoving and no boarding groups) and began the four hour flight. Upon arriving I could not believe my eyes, it was so much greener than Arizona! Once I found my bags I was picked up by members of the ministry I am staying with and we proceeded to get food. I was a little hesitant of the place we stopped as the floors were mud and there was no roof but the food was very good. We continued on to get a phone and my money exchanged. During which we were hit in our car by a small rickshaw. I guess I have not mentioned yet that India really is like the movies. All drivers jockey for position and honk their horns to let people know "hey I am here and stay where you are!" It is truly something to experience unless you are prone to motion sickness! The rickshaw did not do any damage and it was a funny occurrence because I was truly surprised it had not happened earlier. We decided to get lunch where I ordered plain egg noodles as breakfast was still burning my stomach (the curry here is much hotter than Indian food in the U.S.). After that we made our way to the ministry campus where I will spend most of my time. I am staying on a campus that houses an orphanage and schools for tailoring, computer training, and ministry. I live in the orphanage building on the bottom floor with thirty boys on the second and third story. They are approximately 5 to about 12 years of age and sooo cute! They go to school in uniforms every morning and come home to play cricket in the afternoon. They greet me every time they see me but I can tell they do not know exactly while I am here yet. I look forward to talking with them. Things are much different here with people cleaning up after you, driving you, and cooking for you. I am so gracious for their hospitality and sometimes want to say "I can do that for myself, thank you." Last night was my first full night of rest since I left and it has really rejuvenated me! I sat and drank warm milk this morning and watched the boys all in uniform scurry off to the bus. I am now sitting in a computer class using a computer while the other girls learn to type in Microsoft Word. They asked to be my friend and love to see pictures on Facebook of my friends. I plan to try and teach in this class if we can get someone to translate English to Malayalam (the language of Kerala). Off to lunch...

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