It has been another long week! After a full week of classes, we left for the jungle city of Coorg. We drove through the night on a bus and arrived early the next morning. After a quick refreshing nap at the Sri Venkateshwara Hotel, we made out for our first trek through the Indian jungle! It proved to be much more dangerous than I had expected–no one had warned me about the prevalence and tenacity of leeches. Despite much blood being lost, we climbed to the top of the mountain with the rest of the USAC hikers, and we enjoyed the beautiful sight from the top of the mountain. Standing at the very top, overlooking the entire valley, I felt on top of the world. Away from the pollution and sounds of Bangalore, I could have sworn I was back at my home in Kentucky, somewhere on the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. Neither the rain, nor the wind, nor the leeches could ruin the moment. In that moment I realized exactly how thankful I was to be in India.
Later that night we went out again to see the local waterfall, and enjoyed some Gobi Manchurian (and were delightfully surprised to find out it was made out of cauliflower and not chicken!). The next day we woke up early once again, but this time to see elephants! Our Resident Director informed us that only in the early morning would we get to experience the elephants being bathed. After a fun time with the elephants (but unfortunately no riding of them), we continued on to a Buddhist colony. I found it very interesting that in a community known for its chastity, charity, and selflessness, many of the Buddhist students carried cell phones! Looking back now, I guess it’s not as impractical as I first thought. Although it is different than one would originally have thought back in the States, I suppose the Buddhist students are youth themselves, and they are youth living in the present. It proved to be an interesting juxtaposition to what I would have expected back in the States.
We ended a relaxing weekend in Coorg by visiting a milk co-op. There we saw how rural villagers brought milk from their cows, providing a little extra money for the poor villagers and milk for thirsty city dwellers–an interesting business model for developing countries.
After a challenging trek up the mountain, the USAC group stood victorious overlooking the breathtaking view of the valley below. The French exchange students joined us, a surprise that proved to give a different perspective in contrast to our American viewpoint.