I’m back!! It’s been a while, life’s been busy, but I’m here to update you!
The boys are off for the week, there is a one week school break which means most boys went home to stay with their family. Saying goodbye to them, even though it was only for a week, sucked. However, seeing them get all dressed up in their ‘nicer’ clothes to see their parents again, was great. They packed their bags, said goodbye and all went off. You wonder what their ‘homes’ look like, some of them might share a, what would seem to us, quite normal house with a few families, others might have their self-built-mud-house. One of the boys doesn’t have a home, Moorthy’s family is from a tribe, who tracks around the country, they talk in a different language, they dress differently and their culture is very different from the other boys’ parents. Then there is also Mutu, who can never go home because he doesn’t have one. Both of his parents died in the Indian Ocean Tsunami that struck in December 2004. It ripped through coastal communities in 14 countries, killed 230,000 people, and unfortunately swept away his parents.
However, most kids are gone, so we have a week off with the staff. The 7 of us decided to go on a 3-day road trip! In total, we drove 1200 km and saw many, many temples, waterfalls, churches, and went in the mountains.
It all started on Sunday. We left after lunch and drove several hundred kilometers. The first few hours in the car were intense, there were many Indian peanut snacks, there was loud Tamil music and a lot of dodging other vehicles and cows in traffic. The result of all of that was me throwing up out the window while we were racing on high speed through South India. Feeling carsick wasn’t great, but seeing the first Hindu temples made it all worth it. One huge temple was built by the king, another ‘smaller’ (still huge though, lol) temple was built by his son. The temples were insanely beautiful and took our breath away. Thinking of the fact that all stones that were used to build this temple were carried by thousands of soldiers, over the length of 2000 kilometers, to get the stones from Calcutta to Cuddalore is insane and makes it all even more impressive. We took photos of the temples, the Indians took photos of us, and we all enjoyed the Indian professional dancers.
That night, we had our first stay at a different Don Bosco Home. We met the fathers, and brothers and got to know them and experience their amazing hospitality including big dinners, special western style seated (leaking) toilets and hard, wooden mattresses. However, we’re not complaining. We had to wake up early at 4:40 am the next day anyway, so we wouldn’t have to lay on the hard mattresses for too long. We had an early, private Christian morning mass and continued our journey. We visited many different Don Bosco places, which made us realize how insanely big this foundation is. We met many, many Don Bosco Fathers, Brothers, Priests and Salesians and got to see how poor boys were educated in carpentry, bakery, ICT, engineering, video editing, photo editing, marketing etc.. We got meals with endless amounts of Indian food and got a campus tour around Don Bosco churches, cemeteries and even a Don Bosco film studio where they would film DB commercials and record DB songs. As said before, this world wide foundation is enormous.
As we drove further, Father Maria told us he couldn’t wait to see our faces when we saw one of India’s biggest dams. We joked around and told him that from all people in the world, DUTCH people would probably be the hardest to impress over a dam. We are the queens and kings of building dams. The Indians were all very proud of their dam. We told them it was a decent dam, just nothing in comparison to our billion dollar sea wall in the Netherlands. 😉 I promise, we weren’t jerks about it, lol. We took some photos and headed off to our last location of the day. Madurai, the temple city.
We entered Madurai by night, it was dark outside but the many lights and people made the city feel very alive. We decided to visit the Meenakshi Temple, which is a must-see according to the other 15,000 (!) tourists that visit the temple each day! As we walked in on our bare feet, a random woman gave us a red Tilaka on our foreheads and put fresh flowers in our hair. We stepped inside the huge temple and out of nowhere, we were surrounded by gold, candles, statues in Kama sutra positions, professional dancers, and thousands of beautifully decorated pillars. There is no description or photo that could ever do it’s justice to all the things you see, smell, and experience in Meenakshi. It’s one of those things that you simply have to experience yourself.
We stayed at another Don Bosco church community, this time no hard mattress but simply a palm leaf mat. We basically slept on the floor, but with only 5 hours of sleep from the last night and a long day filled with new experiences, so we both slept like babies. No complaints there.
We spent our last day in the mountains in Kodaikanal. We saw waterfalls, views with lots of fog, and experienced the first colder temperatures in India. The highlight of the day was meeting an Indian family; old friends from Father Maria. Again, they showed us endless amounts of love and Indian hospitality by cooking for the entire family and the 7 of us! We talked for hours, had Indian Chai tea, took many photos for the family and enjoyed our meals. The loving mother of the family gave us her self-made scarves. The temperature here dropped down to 18 degrees Celcius, which was absolutely no problem for us, but the Indians were shivering. Fun fact: The scarves we got were in the Guinness world book of records this year because she made a 14 kilometers (!) long scarf, so now we all share some pieces of the same scarf. Cool right?! By the end of the day, it was time to head back home. We had an 8 hour drive left, which seemed to take forever. We listened to music, talked, I threw up again and we all ended up sleeping in about 50 different sleeping positions. We arrived by 3 am in the morning, all very satisfied and tired.