This morning I woke up at five and got ready for our long journey to an ancient well and temple. Of course I was in my minivan of fun and disco music and good company. I sat in the very back with seats that face each other and started the journey with a cup of tea and some parle –g’s in me. If I didn’t mention it before Parle-g’s are gluco and wheat, well that’s what the package says, but basically they are animal crackers. I have to admit I was a little worried about this long trip because I do not particularly enjoy Indian toilets, you know the hole in the ground instead of a seat, but I was prepared and had hand wipes and everything!
The Stepwell was the first stop, three hours away and we made it there with only one rest stop for tea. The hotel we stopped at was not ready for breakfast yet and I have to say I was glad, because the onions were on the floor in the kitchen and it didn’t look too good back there. We drank tea and then drove the 3 kilometers to the site. The Stepwell is the largest in the world and so intricate. There are carvings all along the walls and the steps were different in every direction. It was beautiful and over 900 years old. Apparently, it was created many years ago for people to retrieve their water and then was covered up, and in 1989 it was rediscovered. They have been renovating it ever since and people come from all over to see it. There are also monkeys all over the grounds so we got to see them playing. It felt like a zoo except that the monkeys could run right up to you. I’m still having a hard time with the fact that wild animals are everywhere. There are 8- foot cobras in the backyard of the palace and also a 12 -foot anaconda. I have not seen them and I kind of hope I don’t. The peacocks meow like cats and the water buffalo are just intimidating. There are a swarm of bees near my bedroom door and everyone that works here look at me like I am crazy for being worried about them. It takes some getting used to.
I digress, the well was something I had learned about before I came here and I was excited to see it and I hope my pictures do it justice. By this point it was about noon and we had not eaten much of anything so the whole was getting a little cranky. We got into the car thinking we were going to lunch, but about 200 meters down the road they stopped and told us to get out of the car. There was an old lake we were to look at, and then we walked down to the lake and there was no water. It had been dried up for years and so I sat and looked down at a barren desert with some pillars in it. The more exciting part of this story was the animals. It was like Animal Kingdom; I looked down on the ground and thought I saw something breathing but it was hard to tell what it was it was so camouflaged. I got closer and saw a little tiny iguana. Once it realized I saw it took off and jumped onto a tree. It fit into the scenery so perfectly I almost lost it. Then the squirrels decided to do a dance around the trees so quickly that I couldn’t get a good picture of them. I say squirrels, but they look more chipmunks. In India the pronunciation of the word squirrel is pretty funny, it sounds like squeerel because their i’s sound like e’s. So we finally left the waterless lake and jumped into the minivan for our long trip to lunch.
Oh but they forgot to tell us we had one more temple to stop at before lunch. At this point I was in what one would call “food emergency,” and I did not get out of the car because I was so hot and hungry. We weren’t allowed to take pictures either so I never saw the inside of the temple. We finally left and got to the “hotel” where we had lunch. There are many places here that are called hotels but really they are rest stops to get food and use the bathroom, some of them have rooms but not all do. We were told that we could order whatever we wanted and this was a nice change from being told what to eat everyday. I had saag paneer, tikka masala, and some potato dish; they were all good and the roti was thinner, closer to a naan, so it was really good. I ended up having to use the Indian toilet but I got lucky it was pretty clean!!
Anyway, from there we drove another 2 hours and arrived at the Sun Temple; this is a temple that has been around since the Vedas, over 2,000 years old. It was built when people prayed to the sun and moon and was made for the sun gods. There were steps that led to a pool and along the walls were carvings of Kama Sutra positions. It was a really nice park, but I got sick on the car drive there so I found a shade and sat under it until everyone was done. Lucky for me Liz took pity on me and took pictures with my camera. The only thing that was not so great about this park was a family that decided it would be cool to take pictures of me while I was sitting alone. I was nauseous and overheated and a lady and her family all huddled together about 5 feet from me and took pictures with her Nokia phone. They first asked me if it was all right and I said no but they didn’t listen and took me picture, then they walked closer to the temple turned around and stared and took more pictures of me. It was really weird and I felt kind of violated, but I just hope they don’t put me on the Internet because I can guarantee I was not looking so great.
To sum up they day started at 5 am and ended at 830 pm. It was very long and I was exhausted when I got home. India can take a lot of you even when you are sitting in a car for most of the day. There is no easy trip here, from what I have heard and experienced the heat can exhaust you without having to do anything.