Anyway, Rishikesh. We bought plastic tarps and trudged through the narrow street ways- which seemed to be all stairs. We were so packed in and moving so slow. At one point Jenny(my T.A who happens to be my age or slightly younger) fell into a huge puddle which lead to much laughter and an invitation for us to a family's home. We didn't have much time so we had to decline, but it was neat the whole light hearted spirit of the place and the people. Everyone was all smiles for us. Even in the pouring rain. It was really refreshing after a week in Derha Dun.
We got to the Ganges but it was raining so hard that we huddled with the rest of the hundreds of people under small tarps and overhangs. It was such an amazing sight. We were standing looking out over the Ganges at a mountain side and a huge temple. The rain was sweeping through the mountains in sheets. It was beautiful. When the rain slowed we started across the bridge. I don't know if you'd call it a sway bridge, but that's what it did. the wind was blowing extremely hard. I later found out that people have gone over the sides from wind. Or that's what my Indian friend told me anyway. The bridge was just as packed as everywhere else so it went slowly. It was really dramatic and cool with the rain and wind and the Ganges swirling below us. It moves really fast. I saw a total of 8 other westerners in town which is the most I've seen anywhere on this whole trip. We went into an upstairs cafe called The little Buddha, which I'm sure was built especially to cater to hippy backpackers, but I loved it. And I had the most appreciated coke from a glass bottle. I haven't been eating much other than plain rice and nan so it tasted especially delicious. i haven't talked to one person that isn't having issues. We're all poppin' pepto tablets like we won a championship game. I had a few bites of pasta there too and felt like a new woman. I plan on going back after the program is over. At least for a little while. I've already found one willing travel partner for that trip.
We made it to Haridwar in time for the evening Ganga ceremony. I know I've used the word "intense"several times, but this was the intense-est. There were just so many people. And everyone came at you from all sides to get money. So you had to have at least 5 streams of focus at once. I wasn't going to buy a flower basket for the prayer but I was given one. That was one place I didn't care to be singled out as a money target, and I didn't plan on spending anything at all. Don't let anyone touch you or bless you because they will expect money. I did give a little girl 1 ruppee because she got the bindi thing on my forehead before I could shoo her away, and I had to give her credit for that. That negative stuff said, it was really amazing and visually spectacular. I put my feet in. But ended up covered in it by the end of the night anyway. I got in late and braved a cold shower to scrub myself head to toe several times. My pants were soaked so I just threw them in the tub, filled it with soap and left them overnight. I'm not even going to tell you about the squat toilet experience. I will just tell you that I will never ever complain about any public restroom in the U.S ever again. It was the only public restroom for all of those people. Imagine the smell. And the piss and shit you had to wade through. Ok, I guess I'll tell you a little about it. I'm the only one in our group that went through with it. I came out feeling like I survived a bloody battle. I think I might just throw those shoes away.
I spent today in Musoori. it was a terrifying 2 hour bus ride up the side of a mountain. but it was totally worth it. It's the most beautiful place I've been so far. It was so clean and everywhere you looked was a beautiful view surrounded by mountains. we had dinner at a 5 star restaurant. I have never been anywhere so fancy in any country. Our table was set outside on the mountain in a courtyard. It was amazing. It was just totally beautiful and amazing. I can't believe I'm having this experience.