Saturday, October 22, 2011

Day 1, Hour 42, and Several Outbursts of Laughter Later....

     After a day of classes, pick-ups, which began at 10:30 last night (Friday), a drive to Mumbai, a 2 hour wait in the airport, a quick nap in its cafe, a flight at 5:40 am, TOUCHDOWN IN JAIPUR, breakfast, a tour of the Amber Fort, photo-shoot of the floating palace, making prints on fabric, seeing the world's largest sundial (the Samrat Yantra), an evening of haggling like professionals (a pair of light-blue Om-printed ali-babba pants negotiated down to rs. 150 in addition to talking a man down from rs. 800 to rs. 200 for an elephant tapestry....if only he had a color I wanted...anyone?!), arriving for check-in to discover our first hotel room of travel week certainly exceeds our expectations, and rounding the day up with a delicious dinner at the hotel's roof-top restaurant under the stars, I think it is safe to say Day 1: Taking Over Jaipur has been a success!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Getting a Perspective on the Environment: Mahabaleshwar Trekking Assignment

 Last weekend our Environmental Perspectives class packed up and made our way to the Hill Station of Mahabaleshwar! You can read all about it in my Alliance Blog riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight HERE! On our last day we were led on a trek through the mountains by our professor and his friend Peter and given the assignment to stop, take a look around, explore nature, take a look at plants, talk to animals, and get a feel for the environment (you can tell we were also led in meditation on our trip, right?) Below are some of my favorite pics from that weekend, as well as the pics I took for my trekking assignment....ENJOY!

(A view from the Shiva temple at the origin of the Krishna River. On Day 1 of our trip we learned that the temple is thousands of years old, got to explore it, take some sweet pics, and meditate! You can see the river flowing through the beautiful mountains. It was certainly a gorgeous, relaxing place to be)

(Our first stop on the trip was to see the Western Ghats, a mountain range which runs throughout the west coast of India. Here we observed the step-like ridges of the mountain-sides as well as many, many monkeys-most of which simply wanted to steal our street corn, but this adorable baby-mother duo were just monkeying around.)

(Notice the step-like ridges on the mountain are what gives the Ghats their name.)

And thus the trekking begins!
(Spotted: A photo from the first minutes of our hike, looking to our end point...see that tower way into the distance that I've circled for you? Consider that challenge ACCEPTED!)

(Who would've thought that in the middle of a forest in the mountains people would feel the need to plant a scheduled forest in lines and rows? That silly endeavor quite obviously failed, although we were told that some of the forestry people in India still fight to keep these non-native planted trees alive)

(Even plants get pimples!! We learned that these plants develop pimple-like features on their leaves to enclose around any bugs trying to live on them in a symbiotic relationship!)

(I luckily could not find the spider that calls this web home)

(Trekking, trekking, and more trekking. Our group was just trekking on!)

(FERN GULLY! I was definitely not expecting ferns to be a plant that grew freely in India)

(ACTION SHOTS! Caught in the act of trekking!!)

(After learning one of BAIF's pest repellent methods the weekend before, I thought it was interesting to see that even in nature you can find some of these techniques in place. Here you can see that among all of the green plants there is  a cluster with deep reddish-purple leaves. At BAIF these leaves were used to attract all of the pests to it instead of letting it affect all of the green plants. This red one is taking one for the team!)

(Little Toad!!)

(Slowly getting to our destination! The tower is getting closer and there is less vegetation as we get to the top of the mountain!)

(Little yellow flowers were quite fond of growing near the mountain top...probably because of all the sunlight they could get with minimal competition for space!)

(A view from the top: How'd those power lines get up here?! Pausing for a minute to take in the views. After a few hours we had all finally arrived at the top, where we reflected on what we had seen, discussed our observations, and of course meditated with the winds.),

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