Steve is in India to help teach with a cross cultural ministry training.
The tour I’ve joined covers Southern India running two weeks, and uses every form of transport but the space shuttle. I booked this trip when I thought my sister Beth would be joining me, but she delayed and ended up breaking her ankle, so wasn’t able to join me. Too bad, I think she would have really enjoyed it.
Tours make travel in new countries so easy. It isn’t the travel that is so difficult, but the transitions. With a tour guide, or C.E.O. (Chief Experience Officer), as G-Adventures calls them, the transitions are easy, from to getting on the right train, and having a bus waiting for us when we get there. Knowing a good restaurant, and what to order.
But that ease of transitions comes at a cost, and one might be tempted to say: people, but I actually enjoy that part. Its the lack of adventure.
What makes an adventure is
- the danger, that everything might not work out well.
- the unknown, I don’t really know what to expect, or if I’ll be ready for it.
- the serendipity, that a blessing awaits if I just put myself out there and be open to what happens.
Now I know that as a guy, it is much easier (and safer) for me to adventure-travel and I hate it that women can’t have some adventures without a man around, and so its easy to see why the men on this tour are outnumbered more than 2:1.
The tour stay in waning two star hotels, ones that have certainly seen better days. Usually the locations are good, and there was a day when these hotels must have been amazing, but when we check in, its easy to see they are run down, and nobody cares. But I don’t mind, I mean I didn’t come this far to stay in a fancy hotel, and the hours spent in their rooms, should be spent asleep.
[Blue Valley Jungle Resort, Mudumalai Sanctuary] – looks nice, but a rat the size of a kitten woke me at 3am. Thankfully, that only happened once.
The other part about being on a tour is mostly we interact with each other, and the products of the culture we are passing through, but rarely the people of it. I miss that. But the people on this tour are all well traveled, much more than I, and getting to know the 11 other people reminds me of summer church camp, its exactly like Summer Camp, but for adults.
Two young ladies have been traveling Asia for the past six weeks. “What advice would you give, based on your experience?” I asked one afternoon, expecting a cool couldn’t of done without it gadget answer. After a few minutes one says “learn enough of the local language to say hello and thank you.”
Oh, so that is what they have been saying, “Nanni,” which apparently means thank you, in the language of Kerala.
Even though the trip is well scripted, surprises still slip in. Like when we were walking a street in Madurai and one the street venders was hawking a wire toy. Think of a Spirograph but in three dimensions that can be changed into a multitude of shapes.
I made the mistake of looking at him murmuring to myself “Why I haven’t seen one of those in years,” and he followed me for the next six blocks, pushing them in my face. Dad must have picked up one of these on one of his trips to India in the 1970s. “Had he too been here?” I wondered giving false hope to the street vendor who kept dropping his price hoping I’d bite. I should also learn to say No in the local language, because shaking my head isn’t working.