So yogi and I have moved back to Canada. After a bit of country hopping it feels good to be here in one place and enjoying the end of a canadian summer.
We have been cooking up some amazing meals, and I think my next project is to make Tempeh. I found a great site: http://www.tempeh.info/ which explains how to do it. So here we go!
Canada? Canada. hmm…I guess I am getting used to this word. But seriously, if someone had come to me a year ago and told me “oh yeah, and by the way in one year you will be married and living in Victoria”…I am not sure what I would have done. I would have never (ever) believed them.
But here I am (and I am even enjoying myself!), sitting in Victoria, watching yogi make vegan cookies.
I guess this is the beginning of a new adventure: Canada.
I spent the afternoon planting a mango tree. To plant a tree is to be alive. Or something less dramatic. But seriously, planting, working in the garden, digging holes, these are the things that make me feel alive. Especially when doing them with some nice people from around the world.
On the people note: I have now been here for almost one month. the people that arrived at the same time as me are now leaving (there is a minimum stay of 4 weeks here) and suddenly I have found myself completely surrounded by new faces. Its a little over whelming because I was just getting used to the people that were here before. So much energy goes into meeting people, and its not energy that I can easily tap into. I find it easier to muster up the energy to plant a tree. I guess that is kind of why I am here. To plant trees and to expend some energy into the earth. I have spent the last three years working with human beings, and I guess my time here will be spent mostly balancing that out with some ground work.
Originally I planned to stay here until the 9th of March, but I think I will leave on the 1st and head up to Darjeeling. I dont know what is drawing me there (the proximity to the border of Nepal and all the characteristics that a border town will carry? The Tea?).
I have been on the “Hygiene” team this week. This means that a group of 4 of us are responsible for keeping the toilets clean, the washing stations clean, and the showers clean. As well as maintaining the compost toilets. So far it has been a humbling experience, but one of great importance. Its something else to stir a large quantity of shit, or to dig out a tank of already composted waste. Nothing really seems gross after gathering pee and watering plants all morning with it.
Last week I was on the composting team. I learned a lot about how the compost works, and the different elements that make up a good compost. I am definitely going to carry this knowledge with me to Canada and try to work in a community garden there with similar techniques.
….at times I have felt like I am training for something bigger while being here. A zombie attack maybe? The end of the world? I feel like the more I learn here the more prepared I am for anything. In fact the longer I am alive I realize more that I can actually do anything. Its pretty cool.
So after being here for over 2 weeks (time goes so fast!) I finally feel like writing about it. I really notice my pattern: one week to observe, one week to adjust, and after all that I can settle a bit.
Its weird being here, surrounded by people (there are over 90 other volunteers here at the moment) and always interacting with everyone. I went from a place where I was surrounded by children, where conversation wasnt really the first thing on my mind, to a place where I am surrounded by people around my age, constantly conversing. I’m still getting used to it and still need to stop and kind of pull myself away once in a while to breath and take it in.
Our schedule here goes like this: Wake up call at 5:30am, this is done by a team chosen at the beginning of the week. Then we go for “morning circle” where we read off the jobs that need to be done and do stretches or yoga or singing. Then we start “first work” for two hours. So far my first work has been watering the swales, which are large indents dug out of the ground designed to slow down the flow of water in monsoon season. Actually I am watering the plants on the bumps of land beside them, which help to hold the water. Its difficult work, because we have to pull a 80 metre hose out into a big field, and then water these six swales, then roll the hose back in. I really love it because its like 6:30am, and you can see the huge yellow sun rising above the trees, burning the morning mist away quickly. I always come back from the job soaking wet and muddy, which is really nice.
Then there is breakfast, which usually consists of some kind of porridge and a whole helping of fresh fruit. Mostly fruit from the land, like papaya and banana, but also pomegranate and guava.
After breakfast we have “second work circle” where we get together and do some activity to kind of loosen up before working again. Today we put on music and danced around the main hut for 20 minutes, which was so sweaty and created some nice connections among the people.
My second work for the last two weeks has been building a garden for the “Healing Hut” (a place for people to get first aid, massages, reiki…etc) I couldnt have asked for a better job, all week I have been doing exactly what I came here looking for. Digging soil, building raised beds, digging circle gardens, learning about and planting medicinal herbs….and most importantly becoming extremely sweaty and muddy and sore.
Ah all these descriptions are boring me. So I guess thats all for now!
So my first lesson in patience here in India: the train ride to Chennai from Calcutta. Quoted a 26 hour ride, I happily boarded, with three books, some snacks, and a some what healthy body. Well 38 hours later I got off (3am in Chennai) with three finished books, hunger (a mouse ate my snacks) and some weird stomach problems. Anyway I made it safe and sound, if a little more then a little disoriented, to Sadhana forest around 7:30am yesterday.
Today is the weekend, which is free time here, so I joined a Nia Dance workshop. It was so fun just dancing around and stomping to the music. After dancing for an hour and a half we sat down and talked for a while and now I am here, sweaty and feeling inspired. I helped cook lunch yesterday, and today I will help cook dinner. Tomorrow I will be “guarding” the mud hole (a giant mud pit that the children from the community come and swim in) to make sure that nobody leaves garbage when they leave.
I think instead of describing my time in Calcutta I will just attach these pictures…
Arrived in India yesterday. First thing you notice, while barreling down the street in a taxi, is the smell. Somehow it reminds me of long summer days spend on a friends barge. A mix between bread, tea and something else. Beautiful.
The streets are packed with cows, people, carts, and the occasional pack of goats, everything engulfed in the steam rising from kettles of Chai.
We sat and ate huge dallops of thick paneer with burnt chapati, washing everything down with small cups of spicy chai.
Everything here is fast at first it is a lot to take in. But after an hour of walking the streets of Calcutta you start to feel the beat of it all and melt into its tempo.
Every hour we stop and squat at the side of an alley where people serve you chai in hand made clay cups. The cups are just discarded in the street afterwards, left to disintegrate back into the pavement. If you ask me its a much better idea then “to go” cups of the West.
I am “stuck” in Calcutta for another couple of days, as the next free seat on a night train is on the 19th. I am happy for this small break inbetween everything, as now I will get the chance to see the city a bit more before heading south.
Breakfast this morning consisted of fresh curd with muesli, alongside a large cup of strong coffee.
I can see how people get stuck here.
I really thought I wouldn’t cry. I mean, when I woke up I felt great. When I ate leftover banana cake that I had made the night before for the kids, I felt great. When I packed the final things into my bag I felt great.
But then I put everything in the truck. I went pee. I did all the regular things one does right before embarking on a trip. Double checked my important things.
Water bottle, yes.
Emotions? Suddenly I was full of them. Sad, happy, excited, sad sad sad.
So I held off the tears until we started to pull away from the house. Then in a silent burst they started flowing. Probably when Michai shouted Bye to me from the garden he was digging in. Maybe it was when Boonmi tapped my shoulder and promised he would email me everyday. Or maybe it was when I was hit with that familiar feeling of dust shooting up behind the truck, filling my eyes and mouth.
Whatever the reason, I cried. A lot. And it felt good. It felt good because it was sadness that was appropriate. It wasn’t dramatic or too deep. It was Just sadness about leaving a place that had become my home; just sadness about leaving people that had become my family.
But now there are so many things to be excited about. This little hiatus in Bangkok is exactly what I needed to get my thoughts all rearranged and ready for India. Something familiar followed by something oh so unfamiliar.
I got out of my taxi and started to walk towards my guesthouse. I had my pack for india on my back, and a suitcase full of stuff for Canada (that I am leaving in Bangkok while I am gone) on my hand. Then there was a loud ripping noise and my pack fell apart. I guess that’s what you get for 200 baht in Sangkla. Ah well at least I have multiple sewing kits on hand.
And so I begin my next adventure.