By Alice Johnson
Going to sleep in one place and waking up in another – that sums up our 18 hour bus ride through the Himalayas. With a few breaks, we got to the top of our amazing three mile hike. We all had great attitudes and smiles as we hiked up the steep mountain. We were eager to get there so we took shortcuts and they were incredibly steep. Nobody fell off, though we were hiking in the night.
With the hike came immense amounts of serenity. An hour and a half later we reached Agora, just before a rainstorm.
After some snacks and unpacking, we congregated to split up into our host family groups. I was in a group with Judy, Roy, Michael and Mr. Goodrich. We were first put in a small bedroom separated from the family and the kitchen. The room had many colors and a clay floor. We sat on two small wooden beds with twin blankets. They served us delicious cups of chai, our first of many.
Soon we were told to take off our shoes and go outside a few feet to the kitchen, which was small and warm because of the cooking fire. We got to communicate with the three women inside the kitchen – we all spoke very little of the other language. Thankfully, Suman was there to help us communicate. After some rice, veggies, chapati and lentil soup, we thanked them and returned to the lodge.
We were all so tired that we went to bed right away. We had only been in Agora for a few days, but I knew already that I did not want to leave. Being in the village showed me so much. I find everyone so admirable here – people are so happy with what they have.
The next day, March 6th, was free for us to go meet people. We played jumprope with some children and then Sydney, Abby and I followed some people to their home where they took us up to the small kitchen to teach us how to make local bread. They also taught us some Hindi – how to count. Then then took us downstairs to braid our hair and give us bindis. There were about nine girls there, ranging from one to sixteen.
We eventually had to break to eat lunch, which was sad. After lunch, I saw some of the same children and went to play with them. That is what makes me so happy. There was a language barrier that caused us to have to communicate in other ways. They spoke no English, so I tried asking if it was a cricket bat. I tried imitating a cricket, so I started hopping around. Then they started hopping. The three of us all hopped. It was so funny, and we all shared the same giggle.
These experiences gave me a sense of what true happiness is. We played for a while, and it was so fun!