Kori and I are are relaxing — though not really resting — in chilly Darjeeling before heading to Delhi and then home. Our time in Kalimpong was brief, but lovely. We enjoyed spending time at all five of our children's homes, and felt encouraged not only by our staff, but also by the leaders who joined us on the trip.
I already miss the kids in Kalimpong, but I'm enjoying a couple of days with Kori. This is a great opportunity to regroup before heading back into what is sure to be a very busy year at the Asia's Hope office.
It really is cold here in Darjeeling, much more than I had imagined. As no hotels here enjoy the benefits of central heating, I may have erred in reserving one of the cheaper ones in town. When we checked into our room, we could see our breath. The tiny, portable heater is doing its best, but it's never quite enough to keep us warm.
I'm certain that this hotel lacks even the most basic insulation, and the large windows that dominate the main wall in our room do not close completely. They do however provide hot water bags for the bed upon request, and we've requested them a number of times already. We also bought ourselves some long-johns last night. I'm not sure we would have been able to sleep without them.
This morning we got up to find the entire town shuttered. A beloved local politician has apparently died, and nearly every restaurant and shop has closed for the day to honor his passing. We were lucky enough to find found one small place that consented to make breakfast for us, although they made us walk through the kitchen, and they kept their front doors blocked and locked so no one would think they were dishonoring the dead.
After a decent breakfast of toast, eggs and hashbrowns, we decided to walk the town. We traipsed about the neighborhood for around two hours. Despite the cold, this would not be particularly strenuous at home. But at 7,000 feet above sea level in Darjeeling, where every road is a hill, it was pretty exhausting. Thank God I'm not suffering from altitude sickness (I had it last year and it was not fun at all), but I still feel like my lungs are wrapped tightly in an ACE bandage.
We did find one other place that was open for business, the bakery at Glenarry's. We shared a pot of tea and a couple of cookies before returning for a rest to our hotel. The hotel is still very cold, but we've cuddled up together with some hot water bottles, and we're trying to decide if and when we should search for some place to serve us lunch.
Despite the fact that the mountains are shrouded in clouds and we are a bit cold, Kori and I are having a really nice time. This is an amazing country — every dish is delicious, and every street is filled with sights, sounds and smells that we can't find at home.
I find that I'm not taking many photos on this leg of the trip, so you'll have to take my word for it: India is beautiful, it's people are amazing, and Darjeeling is a place you really want to visit. You may, however, want to find a warmer time of year to do so.