Dressed in full-body synthetic insulation reminiscent of a sleeping bag, my face cold in the crisp night air, I now write to you from Ranikhet, India. Imagine giant, vibrant green trees of exotic variations, the fresh smell of blossoming vegetation, lush terraced hills as far as the eye can see, each one a little hazier until the sea of mountain waves fades seamlessly into the distance. Envision winding roads bordering cliffs, highways for not only recklessly speeding jeeps crammed to the brim with people, but also for donkeys, monkeys, and the holy cows of India. The women here absolutely sparkle in colorful elegance, dazzling in their sequined saris and punjabi suits. According to the man who lives here, a number of wild leopards reside nearby.
We, 14 young people about to set off on a mountaineering expedition in the Himalayas, arrived Ranikhet early this morning by overnight train from Old Delhi. Before that, we spent two days in New Delhi, immersing ourselves in the utter chaos of the city’s roads and transportation systems, haphazardly finding our way from one landmark to the next. In one day, we managed to see the parliament building, the India Gate, the National Gallery of Modern Art, eat lunch at the Loti Gardens, see the Loti Gardens, and visit the place of Ghandi’s death, a Hindu temple, and a bazaar… the morning after a 15-hour flight! Bonding with new friends was almost instantaneous, and spending all our time together has rapidly begun to seem like the most natural thing in the world. Our group was completed last night when the last group members arrived, and off we went, to the train station of Old Delhi, full of sleeping people, thieves, vendors, and chaos in every form. After boarding a train heading north, making ourselves as comfortable as possible in the beds of a sleeping car, sleep was welcome.
Arriving in Ranikhet was like a dream compared to Delhi. The air is so unbelievably fresh, the sky remarkably clear, and the foothills of the Himalayas in every direction. Today was spent drinking chai, renting tons and tons of gear, and making a visit the local market, where it poured rain and sleeted and haled. So far, everyone in our group seems incredibly nice and funny, and the instructors seem great. Tomorrow, we’ll split up the group gear, and the next morning will start our month-long expedition into the Himalayas themselves. The adventure begins NOW. This will be my last post until the middle of May- tune in then to hear the saga continued!