best name ever.
so from fort cochin, it took a planes, trains, and automobiles kind of journey to get to Mettupalayam, a town/ city where there was really nothing to do or see. so i roasted in my humid room where the electricity went out for most of the night. when i woke up at 5am to get to the train station, it was pouring rain, but lo and behold, it stopped as soon as i stepped outside of my hotel. so i booked it to the station to get a ticket to take the World Heritage miniature toy train to Ooty, one of the three Nilgiri hill stations at the top of a mountain. i sat with a Belgian, a Pole, some Germans, and a small family of unidentifiable origins. the train left the station at 6.30am. it was so so beautiful. we passed waterfalls, misty mountains, colorful villages, tea plantations, rivers, green green green. so beautiful. the temperature also dropped, which was a welcome respite from the 24-hour sweat fest going on. we had to stop every once in a while to fill the steam engine (Grandpa Rocky would have loved it) and we could take pictures, get fast food like samosas, and drink chai. the breaks were key, as a 5-hour train ride for 10 rupees (20 cents) sounds great (and is), but you can only take so many pictures of scenic mountains and greenery (sigh).
upon arriving in Ooty, the Pole and i headed to the YWCA, where we met a bunch of French people. the six of us then formed what we later dubbed Le Group. the next day, we went trekking for the day. i really can't being to try to describe how green everything was. the deepness, the richness, it just seemed to go on forever. we saw more tea plantations, women harvesting the tea leaves, we saw a temple dedicated to Hanuman, the monkey god, we saw amazing views of the surrounding areas. the villages we passed through were filled to the brim with smiles and unassuming friendliness. either not enough tourists had passed through this route suggested by the tourist office (they recommended hiring a guide, but we didn't), or the tourists who did pass by were just as friendly as they were. they didn't want anything from us, just to return their hellos. it was refreshing and it made my heart happy. we ran into a man who helped us with directions and then directed us to a local food joint, where we got thalis (traditional and basic Indian dish of rice, dahl- lentils, and other side dishes) for 75 cents. then he brought us back to his house where his brother's wife made us all tea. it was a fun detour.
we went trekking the following day to a waterfall and lake. it was all nice- the weather, the surroundings, the views. but it was really the company that made it what it was... allow me to introduce Le Group:
- Konrad, from Poland. he's the first one i met of the group, as we sat in the same section on the train. has been traveling for months now, and will only head home once the money runs out. ripped, good-looking, and apparently very popular due to his blog, as not many Poles travel like he has.
- Yann, from France. dark skin, deep eyes, tall. a delightful French accent, super polite, open-minded, and fun. really open to speaking English, though he says he's not good at it. really great talking to him about anything from soccer (football) to south america.
- Julie, from France. very petite, has mastered the Indian head-nod. picture a bobble-head doll, and the head moves from side to side. we would interpret the gesture as meaning 'i don't know'. here it means whatever you want it to mean. she is such great company.
- Alice, from France. really, really pretty, adventurous, open to new experiences, and fearless.
- Mathilde, from France. i didn't get many chances to speak with her, though she was totally great to have in the group. she teaches children in elementary school, and it was so interesting talking to her about the school system there, as well as her experiences traveling. she admitted to her fears of traveling in india, so it was cool to see her push herself out of her comfort zone. traveling with Alice.
a dynamic group of people, and usually 6 is a tough number, and it would have been difficult to travel much longer together, but it was a great time- we all got along, did our own thing balanced with things together. we were lucky to have met each other!
things were so fun that Le Group decided to travel on together to Mysore via bus...