Do you have any surprises or beliefs you discarded during your travels?
One preconceived notion and surprise I experienced during traveling took place in India. Previous to traveling with this humanitarian group, I believed I needed my western lifestyle in order to be happy—hot showers, indoor bathrooms, eating at a table, with electricity. After my first night spent in a sleeping bag under a thatched roof hut beneath a star-studded sky at the top of the world, that theory was forgotten.
I arrived in New Delhi, India 30 hours after leaving my home in the Midwest, and I had not arrived at my final destination. The smells of exhaust fumes, curry, and cow dung fires hung in the air. The noise of taxis honking was deafening.
Thankfully, we stayed at a hotel for the night to shower before continuing for another 15 hours. The leaders of our group warned us not to eat any raw food, even in the hotel, nor any kind of food from vendors on the street. Even though there are challenges in India, it’s one of the most exotic places to visit.
Early the next morning, from Delhi, we took an 8 hour bus ride to a small town closer to the Himalayan foothills, before climbing into the back of a large truck with foam on the floor. We were stuffed in between our suitcases, so we could barely move. A jeep with 2 armed men lead the way to protect us from bandits.
We traveled over roads filled with potholes and through shallow rivers where we periodically got stuck and had to climb out so the truck could be pushed out. Eventually we reached our final destination–a small village in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains, 30 miles as the crow flies from Nepal.
Every morning at 6:30 am I’d hike for 20 minutes down the hillside to bathe in the river. When I set my shampoo container on the rocks and noticed donkey droppings, I tried not to worry or think of diseases like dysentery and tuberculosis. Hair washing was pretty chilling at that hour but by the time I walked back uphill to the camp, my hair was dry. Breakfast was cooked over the firepit and was delicious. We spread a tarp and ate on the ground.
To my surprise, I realized that these two weeks were one of the best times of my life. I felt freedom and deep peace while living an extreme opposite lifestyle from my very busy western life. Sleeping outside, washing in the river, using outdoor toilets, and watching the stars come out at night as my entertainment suited me well.
My final surprise came the day we were preparing to leave. One of the village men, who appeared to be about 30 years old, asked to meet with us. You must understand that most of the villagers had never seen Westerners before our arrival. However, this young man who did speak a little English, had left the village at some point.
His question to us: Would any of you like to become distributors for Amway?!
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