Saturday, February 9, 2013
So my first day was interesting to say the least! After about 26 hours or so of travel I finally arrived in Kochi at about 4am. After getting through customs I made my way to baggage claim. Unfortunately my phone had died during the flight so I couldn't call my arranged ride yet. I get to baggage claim to find out my luggage had been lost. I spent an hour or two signing paperwork and what not. After accepting I wasn't going to get my bag for a couple days I began looking for a pay phone to call my ride. Again bad luck struck, here in Kochi there are no "pay phones" as we know it. Here there are phone booths that are run by an actual person. These phone booths are only open during normal daytime hours, so I would not be able to use a phone to call my ride for another 3 hours or so. After a bit of freaking out I decided to get a taxi to the address given to me by GVI. My taxi ride was 895 rupees along with two toll booths costing 20 rupees total and a 30 rupee tip for the driver, this cost me about 17 U.S. dollars total. The driving here is absolutely insane. I literally thought I was going to die on the taxi ride to my home. Drivers stop for no one, weave in and out of traffic, and use a simple toot of their horn to warn people out of the way. When I arrived to the homestay address given to me I walk in and find out that the place was GVI's old house. I was at the wrong place!!! Lucky for me the lady running the homestay is a friend of the GVI manager here, and called her. I was picked up within a few minutes and taken to the house. The house has no air conditioning but fans in every room. But the fans don't do a very good job of fighting the absurd heat of southern India. It is almost impossible to sleep due to the heat, and the hundreds of birds that never stop chirping outside my window. At the beginning of my first day I was really not feeling to good about all of this and I was getting really anxious. But soon I met all the other volunteers and everybody living with me. The house consists of 3 GVI directors all in their mid 20's. James from Ireland, Julie from either England or Australia, and Ridhi who is a local who went to college in England. There are several volunteers from age 18 to 55. Two french girls and two Australian girls who left today (my second day) 3 kids my age, Oli a guy from London, Jenni a girl from London, Otto a guy from Sweden (he is very wealthy so everyone jokes that his parents own IKEA). An Indian looking guy in his mid twenties from London named Avi (he is my roommate for the next week) There is an older woman from Oregon, a lady from London who was a successful artist but recently sold all her belongings and decided to travel the world, and a woman from New Zealand. It has really been cool to meet people from so many places already. After all the drama my first day, the rest of the day was pretty relaxing, I slept and just hung out. The kids my age took me to a cafe around dinner time called "Kashi's" where I had the most amazing chocolate cake and iced coffee I've ever had. And later that night we went out to a local bar as it was the two French and two Australian girls last night. My fist day I only exchanged 25 dollars, which came out to be 1,340 rupees. This got me a 30 minute taxi ride with its extra expenses, an iced coffee, a Gatorade, a piece of chocolate cake, and a couple Indian beers. It is insane how cheap everything is here. I have not had time to take many pictures yet, but today I will be getting a little tour around the city and I will post more pictures. Thank you guys for your support and keeping up with me!