31 March 2016

Rishikesh Again & A Kundalini Retreat

In January, I visited Rishikesh and liked it okay. Interesting, good yoga, cute town, gorgeous Ganga. I found a kundalini retreat, and said I'd do it. After much discussion of detail, I signed up.

After a long day of travel (1 hour in a bus, 45 minutes in a tuktuk, 2 hours in a plane, 1 hour waiting around for my awful taxi driver, 7.5 hours in a taxi with a maniac), I arrived in Rishikesh. Deepak met me, despite the super late time (after midnight) with a flower, a bottle of water, some biscuits, and some chocolate.

The next morning, we began our retreat at Braham Yoga. It was $300 for the week (with accommodations and food; you can do it $100 cheaper if you opt out of those), and structured in a way to give you a great focus to kundalini living, pranayama, meditation, and kundalini yoga - and it was def not recommended for the beginner.

Every day, we met in the morning for 2-3 hours, and from 4-6 or 7. Mornings were spent with in-depth discussions of the chakras, chanting, pranayama, and specific asanas. Afternoons were usually focused on pranayama, meditation, and strange meditation activities. One of the teachers had a background in Osho ashrams, so we did some cool activities. One day, we spent 15 minutes shaking, the next 15 minutes dancing, and then 30 minutes meditating. Another day, we spent 30 minutes laughing, 15 minutes crying, 15 minutes in silent meditation, and then 30 minutes in a guided savasana. Each day was different, illuminating, tough, wonderful, struggling...a lot of things. I'm grateful for every day.

I loved my teachers; Deepak was kind and compassionate and full of knowledge and patience. Our other teacher pushed our edges. Unfortunately, he really pushed people over their edges....one of my classmates stormed out. Another classmate cried. He was trying to break us open - to let the light in, I assume - but it was really, really tough. I liked the process a lot, even as it challenged me. Unfortunately, it led to some really weird energy in the class. The guy who left our class really only spoke German - and left because of language challenges, and feeling like the teacher ignored him. He was often angry at the class. The classmate who cried felt a little weird but got over it. Another classmate got upset when he felt he was left behind and skipped class for a day.

Yet despite the weird energy at times, I got a lot out of the class. I learned SO much about pranayama, further into the chakra study, and into my own meditative study. I got ideas for teaching, ideas for my own practice, and opened myself up. I loved it. Some days, I was on such an amazing high...it was unreal. It was like I was on drugs. I was so alive and free and happy! 

I was completely sober, eating good food, porridge for breakfast, fruit for lunch, veggies for dinner. I went to bed early, got up every day to run for an hour or two on some hills, feeling great. On our breaks, I wandered the streets of Rishikesh, buying jewelry, shawls, yoga books, yoga cds, talking to people. I hung out a lot at the Juice Bar, eating their bomb fruit salads, talking to whoever sat at my table, journaling, writing letters to my bestie. One day, when they were closed, I sat at The Office, eating a good-but-not-as-amazing-fruit salad, when I met an amazing kundalini yoga teacher and sponged a lot of knowledge from her.

Holi fell in the midst of our retreat. We had class early so we could throw color at others. It was insane. It was so fun, so alive, so much. We were all loving and covered in colors. The streets were nuts. People were dumping buckets of water out their windows. I didn't like the buckets of water and people shooting others with water....but it's all part of Holi. I tried to avoid it. We danced in the square and then went to the ashram for sweets, prayers, and paint. It was pretty amazing.

After, we hiked up to a waterfall. It was amazing to stand under the blast of pressure of water and have most of the colors come off. (But not quite....a week later and I still have some pink from Holi in my hair!!!)

Rishikesh is a special place. I spent it filling my heart, filling my mind, filling my life. Learning about nonattachment, the chakras, breathwork...it was a special week. Everywhere I went, I ran into friends I knew from Arambol, met new people, saw more cows...

I'll be back. I know I will. Maybe even next year. There's more time I need to spend in Rishikesh...so I should head there and study more yoga, eat more fruit salads, and OM just a little bit more....

21 March 2016


Traveling is not about buying stuff or seeing stuff. It’s about learning and exploring and finding out about new things - but also about yourself. And yeah, you get buy new stuff and see stuff in the process.

Darjeeling: Tea and Food Poisoning

So those two things don’t go together, but unfortunately for me, they did.
After I landed at Bhadrapur, some middle aged Indian guy began chatting me up. He found out I was going to Darjeeling, and asked if I wanted to share the cab. (Later, he paid for both cabs we took. Yay, esp because I did not have enough Nepali money...the travel agency told me it was 200-300 rupees and it was actually 1000!)
After getting our luggage in the most inefficient luggage retrieval process ever, we lugged it to the taxi. When the guy found out I was from NYC, he told me about a time 15 or 20 years ago when he visited NYC and went to the Limelight. He was still amused at the men dancing in their underwear; who isn’t - it’s a wonderful thing!
The road from the airport to Kakravitta is the worst road I have been on in the world - and I’ve been on terrible roads. We held on for dear life as we bounced around, tried to avoid our heads getting smashed by the roof. If this is a route a lot of people take to go to Darjeeling, why won’t they fix the road? Questions that will forever remain unanswered….
We took a taxi to Kakravitta bus station, where I found my friend Arpan. I met Arpan when he was working at the Love Temple, where I did my yoga teacher training. When I found out he was from Darjeeling, I said, “Let’s hang out.” Who knew how close we would get, him even seeing my bodily fluids my first day in Darjeeling. (Not the best thing at all, people….)
In our next taxi, now with Arpan and taxi dude, we crossed the border, and they patiently waited while I got my passport stamped in both Nepal and India. Arpan made it easier as he bantered with the immigration officers in Nepali.
Taxi dude dropped us off at the bus station, and my stomach felt off. One shared taxi...then another…
We got to his cousin’s house, and I met his cousin, his cousin’s wife, their adorable four month old baby, Grace, and the “auntie,” the mother-in-law. They were friendly, served me chai, and wanted to show me around. Another cousin came and we took motorbikes and began driving around. They pointed out cool places to me, we went to a neat park, Arpan’s village. It was really fun, and as scary as motorbikes are, they certainly are thrilling.
Thrilling that is, until your food poisoning takes a toll. Despite me going to the bathroom in every possible squat toilet I found, my stomach was not happy. Arpan thought I was tired; “no, my tummy feels funny.” Finally, I said, “Stop your bike now, I have to throw up.”
I jumped off his bike, and threw myself into the grass at the side of the road where I began crying and vomitting.
Some people cry. Some vomit. Whenever I vomit, I also cry. (I don’t necessarily vomit every single time I cry.)
So there I am, with Arpan, who I don’t know super well, his two cousins, and I’m vomitting and crying.
I saw the mushrooms and spinach from my pizza and vowed to never eat them again.
Someone was rubbing my back. Arpan ran into the farm house to get me water to clean out my mouth.
Somehow we made it back to the house. We were supposed to sleep in Arpan’s village, but I just couldn’t make it. I used the toilet several times (squat toilet and no light, lovely) and curled up. My stomach was in agony.
They woke me up to eat around eight or nine. I didn’t want to eat. Arpan made a very light soup with lettuce and ginger. I got most of a bowl down. And then I passed out, with Arpan and his cousin on the floor in the bedroom while I slept in Auntie’s bed. Auntie slept in the kitchen on a mat. The thing I hate about visiting people in India is that I often displace people from their beds - and they refuse to let me sleep on the floor. This time, I was too ill to even argue.
Arpan woke me up at 6am. “It’s six, Cherie. You should be up.”
“I’m sick….” I groaned.
He made me get up.
I could only sit up for the first hour or so. I ran to the bathroom when needed, and then propped myself up against some pillows. They wanted me to eat; I refused.
After Arpan urged, I took a shower “to feel fresh.” I did feel better, but still didn’t want to eat samosas for breakfast.
“Let’s go and get you some fruit for breakfast,” Arpan said.
I bought a big bottle of water and some mini-bananas; I ate one banana. I felt weak, but better. We headed to Mirik.
We tried to head to Mirik, anyway. There were no shared taxis coming, so we went to Keurseong. Why not? We met up with his cousin (who he called his sister) and she bought me veg momos. When she heard I had been ill, she had them bring me a second bowl of soup and second plate of momos. They were good and not too heavy on the stomach. Because my tummy still wasn’t 100%, I avoided the spicy sauce.
We went to a park, and hiked around. It was super pretty. Arpan’s cousin was wearing kitten heels, climbing over roots and sliding down the trails. Pretty badass.
Then Arpan and I wandered behind her as she talked with everyone and bargained at a street fair. “Everything is 10 rupees….” Hmmm, what do I need? Want?
After, Arpan and I said our goodbyes and went to the Maikabaria (sp?) Tea Factory. We had a small tour, and then I bought a nice bag of a good Darjeeling Tea that I’ll make when I get home.
We went back to his cousin’s, picked up our bags, and then went to his village. I met everyone, they were super friendly and also very curious. I was one of the only foreigners who has ever visited their village, so they were thrilled. They little kids were especially curious.
The next morning, Arpan woke me up at 5 a.m. “Cherie, the sun will be rising soon.”
So? I’m  sleeping.
I dragged myself out of bed, pulled on my running clothes, and went to the bathroom. Arpan’s 15 year old cousin was there. “Hi.”
“I am waiting for you.”
“That’s great. I’m going to brush my teeth. I’ll be ready in a few minutes.”
He stood and watched me the entire time. It drove me nuts, but people would do that. Just stare and watch me doing something very mundane. What? I’m brushing my teeth.
I went down to “the lake” with Arpan and his cousin. A few others joined us on our walk.
“Um, lake?”
“In the summer, with the monsoon, this fills up with rain, lots of rain. And people go swimming.”
“And all the trash?”
“Oh, that goes away when it rains.”
There was so much trash - unbelievable. As I ran, I tried my hardest (and failed) to avoid large rocks and tons and tons of trash. Plastic plates and cups and bottles and so many things. Really sad. Everyone spoke of “the lake” with such pride...it’s a shame no one cleaned it up. (But this is my very Western POV!)
I had a yummy breakfast one of the families made me; they all live in a small area of family. Everyone’s kids play together, and you can go over to anyone’s house for dinner. They share the milk from the cows, the veggies from the fields, the delicious eggs from the hens. They share squat toilets and water sources and work and play together. It’s lovely. They all took turns taking care of me. It was so special.
I pulled together a daybag and then Arpan and I headed to Darjeeling, stopping at a bunch of monasteries on the way. They were all really special and beautiful and I took too many photos.
Then we got to Darjeeling. We went to see the Japanese Peace Pagoda, and then, I started feeling poorly. I checked into a hotel (Arpan was staying with friends; I couldn’t stay too because the space was very small.) and immediately fell ill. Arpan left me with a large bottle of water; I couldn’t move for hours. When I did move, it was to go to the bathroom.
Arpan showed up super early, 315 a.m., to go to Tiger Hill. We got in a shared taxi and then drove up to watch the sunrise. It was a crowded cold mess and you couldn’t get a good view with electrical wires and small children perched on daddy’s shoulders in front of you.

I felt ill but I wanted to see Darjeeling. I said no to Indian breakfast at Arpan’s friend’s house and just was alone for a bit. I ate pancakes with bananas at a cute cafe, and then went to Observatory Hill to see the monasteries and shrines up there. Then I went to see another monastery and bought a ridiculous amount of tea and a tea set. (Guess I’m shipping stuff home….)
I felt worse and we went back to Rohini, the village with Arpan lived. I curled up in bed for a while, drank a little tea. I went on a short run and then hung out with people. It was Rohit’s 6th birthday party so I got to see a birthday party from an Indian perspective. There were NO toys. The kids played in other ways.

At night, my stomach got worse. I took zpack (antibiotics) and rested in the morning. I had promised a yoga class, so I taught the children (some of whom didn’t even speak any English) yoga, and they loved it. It was so fun! They wanted to run, and I was dying, but we ran for 5 minutes and they loved it.

Then, breakfast - a little, because my stomach felt wretched. And a long day of traveling to prepare me for the next adventure!


For the longest time, when anyone asked me where I wanted to travel, I always said, “India, Nepal, Russia, and Tibet.” I’m not as keen to go to Russia, Tibet means giving money to the Chinese government, India’s been great, but I always wanted to go trekking in Nepal. I didn’t end up going trekking at all - but it was still awesome.
Back in Dharmashala, I met a nice bloke named Jules. He was a writer and photographer, and we became fast friends. “Come visit me in Kathmandu.”
Somehow, I had a few days and it kind of made sense. I booked a plane ticket up to Kathmandu and figured I’d bus it to Darjeeling. Off we go!
I arrived and Jules was sitting in the courtyard, writing, smoking, drinking coffee, just like before. We caught up, he checked me into my room at which he got me a ridiculous discount, and then we wandered. He pointed out some key things, and I took it all in.
We got lunch at New Orleans, and I was happy to eat delicious tofu (not always the most common thing in India). Then we walked around some more, and Jules introduced me to a few of his visiting friends, and we all went to a giant stupa in the middle of the Tibetan neighborhood of Kathmandu. The top of the dome had been moved slightly (though not damaged) during the earthquake, so it wasn’t purely beautiful, but still, quite wonderful.
We had tea on a rooftop, talking, getting to know each other, and catching up.
I went back to my room to practice yoga, and then we all went out to dinner. I was feeling tired (Getting up at 4a.m. does that to you…), left the after-dinner show on the early side.
The next morning, I got up and went for a run….and run...and run….I discovered a lovely road in the hills above the city. Okay, so there were trucks that blared their horns and exhaled noxious black fumes, but it was nice the same. It was mostly quiet, with less traffic, friendly people, and nice views. My hour long run turned into over two hours.
I got back, showered and ate. Then Jules and I tried to figure out my travel plans. The overnight bus I had planned to take was actually 18 hours, not 12. Somehow a flight seemed more appealing. After What’sApping with my friend Arpan, I decided on plane, even though of course it was more costly. (I talked to someone who had taken the bus to Darjeeling and it was 28 hours total! It had been messed up. Yikes!)
Jules and I went to the Monkey Temple. It was really fun, with monkeys everywhere. I began chanting Om Mani Padme Hum along with it...everywhere. I bought some beautiful mantra beads, and some bigger prayer flags for our camp at Burning Man. The top of the temple (365 steps…) was covered with monkeys, and a building destroyed by the earthquake.
If you went to Kathmandu, you wouldn’t think, “Oh, there was an earthquake.” But if you look around - notice the rubble - notice the things being repaired, then it makes sense. (It could just be a developing country….but no, that’s not it.)
After, Jules and I did a bit of writing and there was a crazy thunderstorm. Figures; I send my umbrella home with Wayne and two days later, it rains. Oh well.
We went out to eat, and then to bed.

The next morning, I repeated my run, and then went to an excellent yoga class. I then went to Black Olive for breakfast with Jules and his friend Agee; Jules said he had been sick all night. We kept it pretty low-key; writing; Agee and I went to the Garden of Dreams (which was undergoing post-earthquake repairs); Jules and I took a walk around an interesting neighborhood. We went out for dinner.
At 4 a.m., I went to the bathroom. And again. This repeated quite a few times. Running was out; I tried to do yoga but felt very poorly and could not do anything too substantial. I pulled myself together for a hot shower (Ahhhh, Hotel Mandep had the best showers I’ve had in Asia! Even if it was all over the flower….) and then crawled outside. I forced down a piece of toast; Jules teased me, “Ultrarunner and yoga teacher, she’s too delicate for toast.”

I took some Immodium and then left Kathmandu for Darjeeling.

Delhi! (Again....)

I was trying to plan many things in Delhi. “Do you want to go to this museum? Or that one? We must go to this paratha place. Delhi is kind of crazy and we don’t have a lot of time, so let’s plan it out.”
After we thought about it, we decided, let’s just stay in our fancy hotel. Wayne had booked The Holiday Inn, which is much more luxurious than the countless Holiday Inns I had stayed at when traveling with my cross-country team in college.
We checked in, and Wayne was shocked at how they looked under the vehicle and in the trunk before letting us in. “No, they do this in lots of places,” I assured him. Then the namastes and bowing began. “No, they do this. Really. Say it back.”
We checked into our room...and immediately raided the minibar. Snickers. Soda.
Wayne put on Arcade Fire, the first I had heard since I left three months ago. Oh how I miss my music…(Streaming in India just isn’t so fast that I can always stream the music that I want.)
We ordered off the room service menu, which arrived in 20 minutes. We just spent some time talking, cuddling, being together - because we wouldn’t be together for quite a long while.
We went downstairs to the Fitness Center where I ran gloriously (with a tummy too full) with a view of a Delhi highway and Wayne swimming in the cold lap pool in front of me.
We met my friend Rajat in the lobby of the Holiday Inn. I had met him back in January at Meenal’s. We talked about my trip, about ultrarunning. When Wayne mentioned his back issues, Rajat inquired more. He’s not only a RD of La Ultra, and a badass ultrarunner, but an amazing sports doctor.
After dinner (During which Wayne ate the thali - 900 rupees at the Holiday Inn - thalis tend to be in the 100-200 rupee range, and this was wonderful.), Rajat examined Wayne, and said the same thing the ayurvedic doctor: it was a pinched nerve. He gave Wayne a series of exercises to do. And then he was gone.
And then...it was just us. It was so sad to say goodbye. We talked and I just wanted to bawl. Why wasn’t I going home with him? Oh yeah, I was here to study yoga.
In the morning, we woke together. I watched him get ready...and then….goodbye. So sad.

I napped, then got on the treadmill for an hour. Then a shower, and hop on a plane to Kathmandu!


So what most people think of when they think of Agra is, “The Taj Mahal.” Most people don’t think that it’s closed on Friday.
So Wayne and I had an extra day in Agra, and while I wouldn’t recommend it, we definitely made the most of it.
We got to Agra at night in the midst of tons of crazy traffic, people running around, and a zillion weddings. We were blown away, and our driver told us that it was very dangerous.
When we got to the Coral Tree Guesthouse (Our favorite place we stayed in India!), they told us they were having dinner. Did we want some?
We said goodbye to the driver, and ate dinner at the Coral Guesthouse. Typical Indian food, and very good. We were both exhausted, so we headed upstairs to our super cute room, and fell asleep.
In the morning, I wanted to go running, but Wayne dissauded me. “Don’t. It’s dangerous. Those streets...the traffic. Plus, it smells like sewage.” It did smell like sewage; it’s why we had slept with our windows open. Instead, I led us both in a yoga class, and we ate breakfast downstairs, showered, and headed out to touring Fatephur Sikri.
When Wayne realized we had booked an extra day in Agra, he looked up what was nearby. “There’s this neat-sounding fort town about 40k away.”
The drive was fascinating; usual India stuff. Neither Wayne nor I opened our Kindles. Instead, we watched gridlock, people biking with way too much stuff on their bikes, chai wallahs, piles of fruit for sale, people brushing their teeth, people begging, everything…
In Fatephur Sikr, we left our drive and walked because we wanted to. People often get confused about this in India…”But it’s only 10/20/30/whatever rupees, Madam.” I like to walk. So does Wayne.
The fort was beautiful and we took many photos. Then we went to the mosque. A self-appointed guide, who insisted he was merely a volunteer and a holy man, showed us around the mosque. It was interesting, though I didn’t like his comments about women (which reflected some of the Islamic constraints on women). After talking to us for 15 minutes, he tried to get us to buy some crafts that his family had made in their hometown (Crafts which we saw others had.). Though they were lovely, we were really annoyed that he had lied to us, and refused to buy them.

Instead, we walked around the palaces, the forts, took photos. We enjoyed the last of our time together, talking about our trip, our future, where we were now, our cats.
Back in the car, our driver took us to the Agra Fort. More tourist sales, and it reminded me greatly of The Amber Fort in Jaipur. It was pretty, but we were like, okay, next?
We went to Pinch o’ Spice for lunch. Clearly catering to Westerners, but so freaking good, we went up multiple times to the buffet. My plate was heaven: primarily paneer and sauteed veggies. We set naan-eating records.
We rolled ourselves down the stairs and had our driver take us to “Baby Taj,” which was really beautiful also.
He took us to a viewpoint. “You can see the Taj across the river. You go in the park, you pay, but down this road, free.”
We didn’t really feel like going to a park, we just wanted a nice photo. After, we wished we paid.
On the road, people tried to sell us stuff, an old woman tried to get me to take a photo of a man sleeping on a bedframe at the side of the road (for money, I’m sure), a boy and his goat chased us, I saw a woman hitting a baby. At the end of the road, there was the Taj, with some workers in front. I snapped a pic, feeling somewhat sad.

Wayne and I went back to the Coral Tree and relaxed. We read in the courtyard, snuggled, talked. We again had dinner at our place, and went to bed early, in preparation for an early morning at the Taj.
The Taj Mahal is, of course, beautiful. Everyone tells you to get there at sunrise...but they don’t tell you about the lines. We got there at 6 a.m. and there were lines, lines, lines.
The non-Indian ticket gives you a free ride on a “golf cart” (vehicle with electric engine), shoe covers, and a bottle of water. After purchasing our foreigner ticket, Wayne got annoyed at everyone trying to hassle us for a ride on their rickshaw. (You have to wait until a golf cart comes, which could be a few minutes, or you could even walk, which is maybe 10 minutes.)
We got on a golf cart, and waited on separate lines for women and men. I got in way before Wayne.
Then we went. It was beautiful, truly beautiful. A sight for love. I was so happy to be there with the person I loved more than anything else in the world that it did mean something.
But it was also lots of crowds and insanity.
After we looked around and took some photos, we walked back to the Coral Tree, had breakfast, and hopped into our taxi for a last day together in Delhi.

15 March 2016

Continue, continue, continue....

I'm not going to make excuses or claims that traveling is the best thing on earth or that it cures all ills. But I do think it's a great way to learn about another culture, to disconnect and figure out your life, to relax and have space, to figure out what else there is out there, and to see a lot of really great stuff...

For a while, I thought about just quitting my job and trying to write. But I knew I needed more. I needed some space to figure stuff out, to disconnect, and to recover. The stress from my old job had made me physically ill; last year, I used all my sick days and have never been sicker. It took me a while to recover and build myself back up. I appreciate feeling healthy and am super excited for what's next.

I'm writing this from Nepal. I smell incense and yak butter candles. I'm in post-earthquake Kathmandu, where rubble still remains around buildings, where fuel shortages are still the norm, where electricity is cut for 8 hours a day and that's normal, where wifi is horrible, where the people are friendly, and where you can see something so new and beautiful in every corner you turn. I hear languages I don't understand being spoken in a rush around me. I am a bit lonely for my house and my partner and cats, but there's so much here for me now. (Home, I promise you, I'll come home soon.)

There's next steps and a lot of details I haven't yet figured out. But right now, I'm super grateful to be here, to have this space, and to enjoy the freedom to work on my yoga, write, meet amazing new people, and just be.

10 March 2016

Gorgeous Varkala...

We were excited for Varkala; our last beach together, and a different one. It’s a gorgeous beach town where the beaches are surrounded by cliffs; to reach the beaches, you have to climb down really steep steps.
We checked into our resort, Bohemian Masala, which was gorgeous, but the staff were pretty unhelpful. We took a walk, got a nice lunch, and then headed down to the beach for a swim and a relax.

After dinner, we hung out in our little hut, with a candle, talking, swatting mosquitos away. We talked about everything in a way you can when you don’t have restraints. It was so nice.
The next day was yoga and beach. We went to morning yoga at Bohemian Masala Cafe, and it was pretty awesome. Then the beach during the day, and an ayurvedic doctor who gave Wayne some good back advice. Then yoga again on the gorgeous rooftop with a view of the ocean at Nirvana Yoga.
I love yoga in India; it can be so very different than yoga back home. The teachers are actually more focused on the asanas of yoga; I think it’s assumed you are practicing the other 7 limbs of yoga outside of class. In NYC, they try to incorporate other elements because frankly, most people aren’t practicing the other limbs of yoga.
Wayne really liked his yoga experience in India; I was glad he could see why I came here.
We got dinner with one of the yoga girls; her friends came and one of them was going to Burning Man, so we were full of playa advice. We bought a piece of art of Saraswati…
The morning was another day of a clifftop run, yoga, and then a day of transit: an hour in a taxi to Trivvandrum, then flight to Delhi, then taxi to Agra.
The adventures continue!

Allepey and the Backwaters

We weren’t sure where to stay in Allepey, but ended up staying in a somewhat-luxurious resort on an island. Emerald Isle was reached by boat, and consisted of a series of islands joined by bridges with lots of backwater canals. It was remote, quiet, and gorgeous.
The place we stayed was way over our heads, and Wayne got upset with how much people were waiting on us. I tried to book a regular room, but there were no more available, so we basically got what was the honeymoon suite. It was our own giant private cottage with a sleeping area, sitting area, outdoor bathroom, private outdoor garden with hammock and sitting area, and another outdoor sitting area.
We got there and had lunch, which was a lot of typical Keralan dishes. I found myself craving Jungle Cafe back in New York City, or really, anything else. It was good, but I was starting to get sick of curry leaf curry leaf curry leaf in everything.
After lunch, it was just too hot to do much. We relaxed in our AC cottage, and then at 4pm, went for a massage. We got ayurvedic massages with lots of oil; we were on two tables next to each other, but a thin wall in between. It was relaxing more than anything.
After, we showered and used lots of soap (and still struggled to get the oil off our bodies) and then took a walk. In the backwaters, people were fishing, washing their laundry, bathing, washing dishes. The private was public. Everyone said hello and it was just so pretty and chill.
I went on a run and it was one of the most fascinating and great runs of my entire trip. I pushed myself as hard as I could, yet stopped to wave, smile, and say hello to everyone. Women walked in gorgeous sarees to the temple with an offering plate of flowers. Children laughed, and yelled, “What’s your name?” People unabashedly bathed in the rivers, while daughters lugged out a large load of dishes to wash. D
The next morning my run was the same. Some people remembered me from the day before; they smiled and waved. People were brushing their teeth, staring at me, running by, huge smile on my face. Towards the end, a group of children stopped me and asked me to play badminton with them. We were both unskilled, a ten year old boy and I, and we repeatedly hit the birdie into the water. Ooops.

After breakfast, we had a stroll on the island with a lot more hellos, chatting with people, pictures….then another boat road and tuktuk and an overnight boat!
We asked at the Emerald Isle for a boat. They told us it would be 8,000-12,000 rupees. We said we wanted to pay 6,000. We got a boat for 7,000.
It was basically an awesome floating hotel room. The front area, where we spent all of our sunlight hours, was awesome. We had a couple of benches, a cushioned couch, and I sat mostly in the swinging lounge, reading, writing. There was a table and chairs we we ate all of our meals.
Our room was nice, just a bed with nightstands, tv, counter, and bathroom...with a shower. What? I actually used it, and was grateful for it.
We took off, and it was really nice and relaxing. We had a welcome juice with lime and coconut, and as we floated, Wayne and I read, I wrote in my journal, I took a zillion photos.
We paused for lunch, which was way too much food and pretty good food. We stuffed ourselves silly, and then went back to reading, taking photos, enjoying the water.
At 4, we had a snack, which was tea with deep fried (in coconut oil, yum) bananas and ghee-soaked bread.
We stopped at 5:30 for the night. There was a small village, with ayurvedic massages (too bad, we had one the day before) and we took a walk, smiling and chatting with small children and waving to everyone.
At 7, we had our dinner, which was again too much food. The mosquitos came out in full force, so we hid in our room. We were sticky and gross, so I hopped in the shower. The shower head didn’t work; bucket shower time!

In the morning, it was a tight squeeze but I was able to roll out my mat and practice yoga; Wayne slept in. Then, a bucket shower, lovely breakfast, read and relax, and we arrived!