Oct. 27

What a day! After safely arriving in Bagdogra and receiving all our luggage (yay!), all 18 of us piled into 6 cars to make a 4-hour trek through mountains and small towns to settle into our hotel for the week, which is just 30 minutes from the project site. Traveling by car in India is quite the exciting venture. When driving, it seems as though the motto is get there any way you can. Then add the numerous pedestrians and cattle walking on the sides of the roads and bikes weaving in and out of traffic, and you have quite the treacherous drive. The cars and buses use every available space (on both sides of the roads) to move around slower vehicles, never decreasing their speed. Often times, it's like playing a game of chicken when passing, and there have been many times when we audibly gasped out loud, believing that this time we would hit the car or the bike or the cow (who walk down the middle of the roads without caring!). Indian driving is aggressive at best. 

But the drive was absolutely beautiful! We went through a windy mountain road surrounded by a gorgeous rain forest and sparkling rivers. Image

Not only was the scenery beautiful, but we also got to see some wildlife along the way. We were able to stop and get a photo op with this charming family as well. 

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There were a total of about 20 monkeys lined up along the road. They let us get quite close to take their picture; however, they did let us know with a friendly hiss if we got too close. When unobservant, the monkeys even tried to steal our cameras out of our hands. It was certainly an amazing experience! 

It gets pitch dark here by 5:30 p.m., so about half of our drive was done in the dark. With careful eyes though we were still able to spot wildlife in the distance. Some people in our group even spotted two large elephants! We tried to turn the cars around so all of us could see them, but unfortunately they had retreated deep in the forest by the time we did so. 

The windy roads then turned into bumpy roads, as in multiple large potholes in a row type of bumpy. It was absolutely necessary to hang on to something to keep your balance, and hopefully not hit your neighbor or the window. Some of us weren't so lucky and still got punched a few times by flaring arms or unfortunately smooshed against the window. Three of our cars also got separated from the rest of the group, took a wrong turn, and ended up taking the scenic route (through more bumpy roads) to our hotel. But we all made it and are now settled in. Tomorrow, we will have breakfast with the pastor (and his family) of our partner church here in India and then attend the church service. This week we begin our work with the church and at the Compassion project.

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