Travel Blog: Robinson Crusoe Island

If you ever read Daniel Defoe’s novel Robinson Crusoe and hoped to someday visit the rustic, undeveloped island that inspired the novel, you may have missed your opportunity. Before traveling to this remote island 419 miles off the coast of Chile made famous by Alexander Selkirk’s 4 plus years of self-requested isolation in the early 1700 that inspired Defoe, I read as many articles as I could find about the island. As you can probably guess, there wern’t that many. Most of the articles were written a few years ago, not too long after the devistating 2010 Chile earthquake/ tsunami that wiped out a large number of homes and structures of the 850 inhabitants of the only village on the island – San Juan Bautista. What I expected to find based on descriptions and photos were unpaved dirt roads, few cars, very little infrastructure and people that were not used to nor accepting of tourists. What I found in late 2014, was another story entirely. While still small and rustic compared to a larger town, the island was literally buzzing with the sound of change – in this case, electric saws. New buildings were going up everywhere….new parks, playing fields, shops, restaurants, markets, homes and government buildings. As I walked on the newly paved roads and passed a village brimming with shiny new buildings, the air literally smelled of fresh cut wood. Satellite antennas spotted the skyline and DirectTV dishes rose from the landscape. Evidently, the 2010 tsunami literally swept in an era of change.

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Like the jutting volcanic landscape carved over time, the islands history is just as dramatic. Founded by the Spanish in 1574 and called Juan Fernandez Island after the Portuguese captain who landed there, it subsequently adopted the same Mas a Tierra, Aguas Buenas and in 1966, the Chilean government renamed her Robinson Crusoe island to bolster tourism and give homage to her most famous inhabitant. While the 1966 renaming of the island may not have immediately enticed hordes of tourists, clearly the island is readying itself to seduce modern active, adventure seeking explorers. Scuba Diving, kayaking, trekking offerings available on the island are now nicely wrapped up with several eco-hotels, restaurants, handicraft markets, an airstrip and even a newly opened tourism office. Long known for several endemic species and named a world Biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1977, adventurers can seek several endangered and unique species. History lovers can follow the treks of Portugese, Spanish, German, British, Swiss and Chilean who have all had there impact on this remote paradise. You can dive the wreckage of World War I German ship Dresden, explore caves dug by banished Chilean patriots or search for the hidden treasure supposedly stolen from the Aztec and hidden by the Spanish. Even archeological lovers will “dig” the new uncovering of suspected artifacts from Selkirk’s time.

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Whether in search of one of the Pacific’s most famous lobsters or simply exploring the rubble and abandoned foundations of the past, explorers will find a new Robinson Crusoe island, one that continues to define it’s isolate evolution.

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Color in the dark

A world of color
Surrounded in the dark
Hands than never reach
Deep into the heart

Eyes that will not open
Blindness made by choice
Greed that fuels man’s soul
Silencing innocence’s voice

The fog is closing in
The mind is shutting down
The race is about to start
no heroes can be found

Seedlings cannot grow
Thru waste upon the ground
The water left is poison
People, look around!

Change is made by action
fueled by Man’s desire-
Blossoms from the soul
Which catches things on fire

A hand that reaches out
Threading through a latch
Slamming open doors
Forcing things to hatch

The Willow catches air
divides upon the masses
Light begins to spread
fills up empty glasses

Stunning Hike in Puerto Vallarta

ImageThere is a reason that Puerto Vallarta was one of the early famous tourist destinations in Mexico.   As the years have passed and the famous often frequent Cabo and Cancun, many have forgotten the stunning natural beauty of Puerto Vallarta.    Tropical mountains that slope right to the sea, abundant waterfalls, beautiful beaches, stunning islands.   Add humpback whale migration, rainbow colored birds flowers and butterflies, and almost perfect weather much of the year and it’s really hard to beat such a tropical beauty.  While Cancun has crystal blue waters, Puerto Vallarta is often overlooked for having beautiful beaches.     This is a mistake.   There are many stunning beaches in Vallarta.   Some of the best are on the south side of the Bay of Bandaras (the 7th largest bay in the world) on which Puerto Vallarta is centered.   

There is a beautiful hike from the small village of  Boca de Tomatlan to Las Animas that showcases many of the beautiful isolated beaches.   While there are few remarks on google that mention this hike, the details are missing and sadly I think few people feel confident in making this hike without the details.  

Getting There:

Take the local bus with a sign that says BOCA from the old down town.  Cost should be around 8 pesos ($.60).  Sit on the right hand side for best views. Boca should be the last stop.  The bus should end there so everyone left on the bus should be exiting.    Once you get off walk down the hill and turn to right on the first street.  You should soon see a pier and a sand peninsula.   If the water is low, you can walk across the peninsula and start the hike at the west end of the peninsula where you see stairs going up to a orange house.   If the water is high, follow the river south and you’ll soon see a pedestrian bridge you can cross and make you way in front of houses to get to the same starting point.  You may run into folks trying to see you tickets to the water taxis or boats.   Do not buy these as they charge almost a 100% mark up and you can just pay the boats directly when you come back from hike.

 

What is the hike like:

The hike is about 3-4 miles but it is very up and down and you’ll hit many beautiful places worth a stop, picture or swim.  Bring water and bring good walking shoes as there are almost no facilities until you reach the end.   I would plan 3-5 hours with stops, lunch, and the water taxi back.  Most will be in shade hiking up small trails.  Look for signs “Animas” along the way to make sure you stay on trail.   It’s a pretty rustic trail and you will need good footing as there are times there is little to hold on to while going down hill.    There are a few rustic wooden bridges you’ll have to cross but they seem in decent shape.    A walking stick would be helpful if your balance is not ideal.   There are not huge numbers of people who do this hike so you will probably not run into too many people. 

 

What you will see:

You’ll see stunning views of the bay, beautiful birds, tropical jungle, isolated beaches, and simply  stunning rock formations.   You’ll pass the famous Ocean Grill, a famous restaurant in Puerto Vallarta.  Soon after you’ll reach a stunning little beach with a small waterfall that runs to the sea.  You will pass at least 4 very isolated if not deserted beaches on your hike.  

Getting Back:

You will know that you’ve reaches Las Animas when you see the long pier with many small boats.  This beach has little restaurants and you can catch some sun, a drink, some lunch, and then head back to Boca.   The cheapest way is to catch the water taxi which will cost you around 30 pesos.  Water taxis are identified by the words “Water Taxi” on the side. Private boats will take you back to Boca for 50 pesos.    If you’d like to keep hiking you can keep going to the next beach called Quixmoto.    There is another hike here that will take you back to some really great waterfalls.  Best in the summer when it rains more often.  You can actually slide down the falls on the rock formations if you are of a daring spirit.  Water taxis and boats here can also take you back to Boca.  You could alternatively hike to Animas and then take a boat to Quixmoto or even the next beach town up called Yelapa.     Once back in Boca, just hike back up the hill and wait at the little covered bus station where you were dropped off.

 

Pictures of our Hike:

 

If you are looking for a beautiful place to stay in Puerto Vallarta, check out our beautiful villa with private pool at www.perfectvilla.net

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Travel Blog: Nosy Be, Madagascar

Leaping lemurs, chartreuse colored chameleons, and painted people are a few of the fabulous finds in mystical Madagascar.

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This former french ruled island is truly a unique place to visit. One of the poorest countries in the world monetarily, the land is rich in terms of natural resources, beauty, and culture. Madagascar, one of the largest islands in the world, was unpopulated until around the 1st century AD and the island evolved undisturbed by human intervention. The first human population were African and Arab and over time Indians and some Europeans also came to live on the island. The resulting people are mostly mixed blood, dark skinned, with beautiful facial features. The people are also mixed in terms of religion – Christian and Muslim being the two primary religions- the people blend their own beliefs, mythology, and culture into their religion.

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One of the things I find most shocking about Madagascar are it’s statistics. 65% of the population is illiterate, 70% of people are unemployed, 85% live at poverty level, 45% of infants die, and 65% of people are under 20 years of age. The average life span is only 54 years old and an average girl will marry at 15 and give birth to 10 children.

To help the local people, many have tried to educate women in family planning, but they have refused and prefer to leave such things to God. If a women finds herself pregnant and unable to care for another child, she can boil a local plant and drink a poision that, if it doesn’t kill her, will rid her of the pregnancy. There are hospitals in Madagascar, but the care is expensive and doctors are spread thin- a typically ratio of 1 doctor to 5000 people. Villagers have a use for almost every plant found around them- every grass, leaf, and berry having a purpose – often medicinal.

When someone dies in a local village, the entire village will gather and pay respects. The body is buried within 48 hours. The locals prefer to bury their own in a forest cemetery- graves hidden from the sun rays under huge trees. Some villages use a small island near by called Cemetery island, that is only used for burials. Families who lose a loved one will celebrate the persons life about 5 years after the death. In this celebration, they will open up the tomb and clean out the bones from the grave. They celebrate the persons life and believe the spirit is released for reincarnation. In this way, the tomb can then be reused for other dead. If they do not clean out the bones, they believe the family will be cursed.

While the people are mostly poor and illerate, the land has provided most of what people need and you don’t see people starving or homeless. Tropical fruits grow from trees, the waters are full of fish, local plants provide medicine, the fields are rich enough to grow vegetables, the rains provide plenty of fresh water and local foliage and trees are used to build homes. Even Marajuana is found growing seemingly wild and the population struggles with the highly employed population smoking pot excessively. Only the extremely rich have running water. The villagers have to walk every day to the local river and carry water used for drinking, washing, cooking back to their homes. Homes are built from locally found materials. Walls are made out of stalks from a certain kind of fan-type palm. Roofs are made from the palm leaves. Floors are made from raffia and the support beams are made from wood from the local mangrove. A house will typically take about 2 days to build and are built around 8 inches off the ground in order to help cool the home and provide protection from critters.

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The political system in Madagascar, like many places in the world, is full of corruption and monies that should be spent on infrastructure and the people are manipulated by those in power. In Southern Madagascar, mafia like organizations control the area. In order to even get permission from the organization in power to marry, they require the young boy to perform 3 tasks. 1st, he’ll have to steal a Zebu (type of cow that is a symbol of wealth). 2nd, he has to go to jail and while in jail he’ll get the required tatoo that shows he is a thief. 3rd, he has to attack a local villager and come back showing the blood of the person. This is his initiation and what is required if he wants to marry.

In Southern Madagascar, as in some other places in Africa, Zebu (cows) determine a man’s wealth and also determine the number of wives he can have. The more cows you have, the more wives you can take. There is a story of a man who has thousands of Zebu and thus has 32 wives and 56 children.

The modern Madagascar people are friendly. Many dress in modern, fashionable european styles, others take on the more traditional dress of wrap around skirts and cloth covered heads. Many of the women choose to paint their faces as a type of adornament. Some use a yellow type powder mixed with water and either paint their entire face or various design. The powder provides some sort of sun screen protection. Others use a white powder and draw elaborate design on their dark faces – looking almost like intricate jewelry all over their faces.

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Malagasy is the official language by many also speak French. Anyone in the tourism industry will also speak Italian as Italians make up 70% of tourism in Madagascar which is the number one industry with only about 300,000 tourists yearly. in 2005, an English program was introduced into primary schools but in 2010, the current admistration banned the program. So only those that are taught in private schools or go to University typically can speak English.

A land rich in natural resources like copper, iron and petroleum, the land is also home to many variety of interesting animals. One of the most famous of Madagascar’s inhabitents is the lemur. Lemurs can be found in almost every size and color. There are over 100 varieties in Madagascar. Some can up to 3 feet in height and can jump over 10 feet. Others are only inches tall. Many lemurs are quite tame, being used to interacting with the local people. They look a lot like monkeys but often with very long tails, big eyes, and a prehensile thumb. Some move around by bouncing up and down. Very bright colorered blue and green Chamelons are also found all over. Again, ranging in size from 2 centimeters to over 2 feet long, their large rotating eyes and scaley, bright colored skin can easily been seen as they walk across the tropical rainforest vegetation. Even orchids florish in this lush land with over 1500 varities.

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This beautiful land is definitely worth a visit with interesting critters, friendly people, and intriguing landscapes.

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Travel Blog: The Seychelles

Paradise Lost. Paradise Found!!! I really cannot imagine a place more beautiful than Mahe in the Seychelles. Dramatic green and granite mountains serve as a backdrop to beautiful azure, aquamarine colored water, white sand beach, shallow coral reefs, huge granite boulders line the beaches creating private little coves of paradise. Glancing out at the various shades of blue water, you see little mini islands creating a perfect backdrop to provide perspective. In the mountains, cool breezes, pine trees and lush vegetation greet you while giant tortoises graze on the side of pine needle covered paths. In the lazy colonial towns, people are friendly, greeting each other by name. If you are looking for heaven on earth, here it is folks. Every photo you take looks like a postcard. Hawaii, Tahiti, the Maldvies….None has an edge up on Mahe if you ask me.

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The Seychelles, made up of 115 islands, sits in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The closest to east Africa, the Seychelles originally founded by the French but ruled by the British from 1874-1976, is now an independent nation. Only about 80,000 residents live in the Seychelles, most of East African decent. When the British outlawed slavery in the 1830s, several slave ships from Africa were intercepted and 4000+ slaves were freed on the island. The British in their typically organized way, build government, roads, and other infrastructure. The cost of living is high as most items are imported. Tourism and Fishing are the main industries. The island has a very fertile nature and almost anything that can grow in a tropical environment can thrive here (avocado,mangos, cinnamon, etc). Gaining independence in the late 1970s, the Seychelles struggles with government corruption and drug issues, but beyond that, this small island is relatively self contained with a University, Movie Theater, broad band internet, their own brewery, and enough jobs to employ the locals. The one big challenge in Victoria, the capital city, is traffic. The town is very small with few roads and many cars with only traffic circles to direct traffic. Buses are prolific and cheap but most islanders choose to drive their own cars.

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While tourism is the main industry, you don’t actually see a lot of tourists. The island is spread out, providing many small isolated perfect coves and beaches. No skyscrapers or tall hotels spoil the atmosphere…instead boutique like hotels that can easily bend most budgets thrive. Cruise liners used to be fairly prolific in the Seychelles but since east African pirating issues have arisen, only a few small luxury liners still visit.

While not an easy place to get to, the little island of paradise if definitely worth the visit if you are in search tranquility, beauty and nature.

Travel Blog: The Maldives

 

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If you have ever dreamed about an isolated deserted island, with swaying palm trees, white sand beaches, and azure shades of pristine water – you were probably dreaming of the Maldives. Over 1000 small islands make up this island nation. Male – the capital – where the majority of the citizens live, is literally busting at the seams with 6 or 7 story building literally built right up to every edge of the island it sits on. The island of Male is only about 1 mile long and .6 miles wide and half of that space is reclaimed, yet about 65,000 people live here permanently. The airport sits on an island to the east as there is no room for a runway on the populated Male. The people here are a mixture of Sri Lankan, Indian, and Arab. The nation has been Muslim since the 1100s and due to that, swimming is not allowed on the Island of Male. I find this strange for a nation that is known for it’s pristine beaches and tourism yet you cannot swim on the capital island. To swim or enjoy beaches you have to take a sea plane (which you see dozens in the air every hour) or boats to one of the other 1000+ islands. There are so many, they are everywhere you look. Tiny small islands. Many with beautiful sandy beaches. Many privately owned by resorts who build tiki huts out on the water so their guests can get the sensation of literally sleeping on water.

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If you have ever dreamed of visiting the Maldives, you may not want to wait too long. The islands are very flat – the highest point is less than 20 feet high. Due to global warming and rising ocean levels, the Maldives is in jeopardy of disappearing all together in the not too distant future. They have already lost a lot land. It appears that one good sized wave could take out a lot of the Maldives. The Maldives is not an easy place to get to. It is one of the most isolated places on earth – It sits in the middle of the Indian Ocean – the closest land is Sri Lanka and Southern India. Most of the tourists appear to be either Asian or European – probably due to proximity.

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I’ve been blessed to have visited many beautiful islands – Hawaii, Tahiti- Bora Bora, Caribbean, Greek, etc. So how would I compare the Maldives. First, many island nations I’ve visited are volcanic based. They are therefore mountainous. The Maldives differs in that it’s totally flat and the islands are very, very small. Most you could walk around the circumference in about 10 minutes or so. Due to the small size, they have a lot of coastal, beach area and there is very little building on each island. Each island, is truly an island unto itself, having to provide its own electricity, water thru desalination, etc.

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The Maldives truly embodies the imagery of a perfect deserted island where you can be all alone, enjoying nature’s artistry.

Travel Blog: Southern India

Brightly Colored, silk covered, jeweled women walk along dusty streets. Bicycles, motorbikes, tuk-tuks, and trucks engage in a fluid dance to overtake one another while a cacophony of horns conduct their dance. Glance to the left and witness an army of thinly appendaged men beating clothes in blessed water behind a sea of drying flags of cloth. Glance to the right and witness perfectly postured, brightly saried women carrying huge bags on their heads as if they weighed nothing. Sounds, Smells, Sights, and Senses collide to merge into a sensation that can only be India.

People always say that you either love or hate India. It’s true…there is no in-between. India is a drastic place – it overtakes you completely and some can’t handle being engulfed. It is unlike any other culture despite being a melting pot of so many. Muslims, Christians, Jewish, Portuguese, British- all have planted their seeds in this land, yet despite these invasions, India has never lost it’s true nature. India is India and no place can mimic or overtake her.

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With the population soaring past 1 Billion, India faces many challenges. One is employing this vast population. An unknowledgeable person may look around and wonder why automation has not been more highly employed to achieve such tasks as street sweeping, clothes washing, etc. But with an understanding that everyone needs work, you realize that the lack of automation creates more jobs. Street gutters are plowed by hand. Fields are tilled by hand. Dishes are washed by hand. Hands that need work, hands that need food, hands that need shelter. As highly educated as many people are in India, salaries for most are very low. Even doctors often change professions as the salaries are too low to support their families. College educated people often eagerly take Call Center jobs as they can make high salaries ($250 per month). Yes – you read that correct. A high paying, college level job at $250 per month. The jobs for the uneducated can often be $5 a day or even less, and that is if they are lucky enough to get that job. Many men, leave their families to go work in other areas of the country or other countries so that they can earn higher wages and send money back to their families left behind.

The largest employer in India, is the India Railway System. They employ over 1 million people. To employ this many people, it may shed light on how integral and populated the trains are. Box cars are so overloaded, the doors do not shut at all and dozens of people hang out the doors, their lives perched over the passing railways. Getting an actual seat on the train is so coveted, that people actually watch for oncoming trains and run along the railway before the station so that they can try to grab hold of the train and swing themselves onboard before anyone else. People often die or are injured when they misjudge the train and get trapped under the moving wheels. There are cars dedicated for women so that they do not have be in such close proximity to men. The seats on these cars are also coveted and there are stories of women literally beating each other bloody to try to remove someone from their seat. Trains are one of the fastest transports as roads are crowed in a way most westerns couldn’t even imagine. A two hour commute each way to a job is commonplace- and that is using public transport. The commute would be longer if driving. I truly believe if you can drive in India, you can drive anywhere. Lanes are not marked or used. Driving is completely defensive as roads are littered with motorbikes, cars, taxis, and trucks. Each moving and overtaking others constantly. Horns are used as a type of communication. Horn blowing is expected and encouraged. Cars will honk once to let a car know they are behind them, honk another time if they are going to pass, and honk a third time when they pass. Every truck has “Horn OK Please” written on their back bumper. You cannot envision India with out horns blowing. Every minute of every day. Constantly. People are so used to the honking they don’t even notice it. Silence in India is an illusion. It doesn’t exist.

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Education is of high importance to most families here. The public education system is poor so any family that can afford it will try to send their children to private schools. Despite school being compulsory to the 10th grade, poorer families simply need the money that children can earn by begging or pandering. So dirty, barefoot children on the streets selling flowers, asking for money, or performing circus acts, is not uncommon.

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A home here can constitute a wide variety of descriptions. One home in Mumbai, cost over 1 billion dollars, is over 27 stories tall, and has six floors of garages. 5 people live in this home. Another home consists of a plastic bag stretched over bamboo posts and a cardboard floor. Wealth is relative. Officially, if you have one pair of shoes, one change of clothes, some sort of shelter and have eaten something in past day, you are not poverty level. Even with this description, poverty level is high.Indian Ocean 2012 390

Families often live in groups with women joining her husbands family after their marriage. Moderns Indians are moving away from the age old system of arranged marriages. While arranged marriages are still commonplace, Internet sites for dating are now used, and parents often give permission to allow their children to marry for love if they feel the couple if compatible. Horoscopes are used to ensure the couple is compatible based on the star and plant alignment. Weddings are a huge event, and the brides parents will spend a vast amount of money paying for celebrations that can easily last a full week. A dowry is still often given, but in modern times, the dowry is given to their daughter often in forms of jewelry. Not paid directly to the groom. The dowry is intended to be money to support their daughter in times of trouble. Like every culture, horror stories exist. Stories of the grooms family killing or harming the bride in order to steal her dowry. Stories of women jumping into cremation fires of her spouse by either force or desperation. Stories of women and children kidnapped, raped, or forced into untoward professions. Stories like this can be found in most cultures, but in India, I’m told part of the problem is that the laws are not enforced the way they should be. Too many people, police force paid too little. The lack of enforcement enables the wicked.

Despite these stories, India is a country where one can feel peaceful. Part of this is due to the religion. Indians practice many religions. Hinduism is the most prevalent and has spawned many religions itself (Buddhism, Jainism, Krishna, Zhoraism, etc). Islam is the second most prevalent, the Muslims having conquered this country hundreds of years ago leaving many beautiful structures in their wake (Taj Mahal – yep it’s Islamic). Many of Hindu based religions are very peaceful. The Jains in particular believe in not harming any living thing. They are vegetarians but do not eat any thing where the root is eaten which in turn would kill the plant. So no potatoes, no onions, no ginger, etc. They do not kill insects. They do not take jobs in which they believe harm people so they focus on professions like banking and commerce (I could argue these professions do harm people, but in the Jainism view, these are peaceful professions). Hinduism itself is interesting in that they have thousand of gods. The story behind the gods is complicated at best but much of the mythology is based in science and the point of the stories is to explain practical concepts.

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The population of India is so high that they do not bury people. There would be no space to bury all the bodies. Cremation is required and a simple and inexpensive process comparatively to the United States. Bodies are not embalmed. They cremate typically within 24 hours of death with the deceased’s male relatives carrying the body wrapped in cloth to the cremation site. For many Hindus, one of the greatest blessings is to be cremated on the banks of the Gagne River (a sacred river in India). “Untouchables” (a population who has historically done “dirty” unwanted jobs and thus keep to themselves not being integrated into the other castes or levels of society), live on the banks of the rivers with huge piles of wood, creating fires 24 hours a day cremating bodies. Hundreds are cremated daily on these banks, their ashes strewn into the river leaving layers of ashy scum covering the surface of the water. The same water that just feet away, people bath and wash their clothes in.

India is complicated in so many ways. One of the most obvious is in it’s language. There are over 1600 languages in India. Most speak Hindu, educated also know English. Everyone will also know their local language. This is based on region. These languages are often very different, even using different type of alphabet and script. Many are based in sanscript. They are so complicated that using the same term can mean something completely different from one village to the next. An example- in one village the term for mother-in-law meant nephew in the neighboring village.

In Mumbai (the historical and now reinstated name of Bombay), you find throngs of bicycle riders, that carry metal food cylinders. These men are called dabba wallahs. Most cannot read or write. They carry over 200,000 lunch deliveries every day. Each food cylinder is marked with colors and an abbreviation system that the dabba wallahs understand. The food cylinder passes from dabba wallah to dabba wallah across the city to it’s destination. One dabba wallah may touch up to 5000 cylinders a day. The food is actually cooked by the recipients wife or mother in the morning and put into the cylinder. It’s picked up by the first dabba wallah and is passed amongst hundreds of dabba wallah as it makes it way to the final destination point. They have a .99999 success rate- almost perfect. After intended recipients eats, the dabba wallahs follow the same complicated system to return the food cylinder to the original point of origin.

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Many people have seen the movie “Slum Dog Millionaire” which exposes the slum situation in Mumbai. With a population of over 21 million and more than 350 new immigrants arriving daily, housing is definitely an issue in Mumbai. Roughly 55% of of Mumbai citizens live in varying level of “slums”. More than 40% of the police force in Mumbai lives in the slum areas- as salaries are very low. A city that struggles with terrorism from their northern neighbor of Pakistan, security is a big issue. You find many metal detectors around major tourist or high traffic hub areas. While police are there, they do not even look at the detectors even when they go off. I received the explanation that they were simply paid too little and lost interest with their job. The city has tried to combat the slum situation by giving the land to some residents in hopes they would build long term structures. What they found happened is that the residents moved out to a new slum area and rented their newly gifted land to earn additional income.

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In far south India, the landscape changes as more tropical vegetation, hills, and beaches arise. Food becomes spicier and many men can be found wearing long pieces of fabric (lognie) that they tie around their waste like skirts. When hot or when riding a bike, they fold the cloth in half and tuck it in their waste belt. While beaches are famously touted in Goa and Cochin, they must be in less populated areas or on islands. What we found were beaches littered with trash. So much so you could not walk barefoot as their was broken glass, bottle caps, and other sharp objects embedded in all the sand. The waters of Mumbai should be called the sea of lost flip flops as you’ll see 100s of isolated flip flops floating in the water like little islands.

India truly is a land of contrasts. You can love her or not, but either way, you’ll never forget her. Good and bad, bright and sad, I am truly Glad to know her.