April 4, 2009

It's gonna be a long one!

We're back to cheap Internet!! So, where I last left off....

Oh Kolkata...

Being in Goa, and the south and the tropical paradise, "easy" version of India made it easy to forget the social problems, poverty and pollution of the rest of the country. They still exist in these areas, of course, but the sparkle of the ocean and the fresh seafood make it easy to give that little extra push to get those pesky problems out of our minds. But arriving to Kolkata on March 13 thrust those things full force front and center into our minds and the days in Kolkata were surprisingly hard for me. I'd gotten to used to the easy India and it was hard to adjust. Kolkata gave me the overall first impression of being dirty, polluted, and in various states of decay with this feeling of aggressiveness in the air. I was only there one day, and we are headed back in a couple days, so I know this is just first impression, and I'm willing to give the city another chance, but this is what I thought about it upon first arriving. Kolkata is generally associated with abject poverty and disease, since most of us are only able to reference Kolkata joined with Mother Theresa and her work, and it's as if the city knows its reputation and is fighting against it, but has given up, half giving into the bad parts, half rebelling against them in a mean aggressive, cynical way. There were some nice parts-government buildings and homes of ruling leaders, but all heavily guarded and fenced in.

We arrived to the airport of Kolkata from the south of India and after the usual search for "driver who will rip us off the least" we were taken to a guesthouse, checked into a somewhat dirty, windowless room, and headed into the city center. We walked around Sudder Street, the obvious center for travellers, the market areas, and ended the day with the Kali Temple and Mother Theresa's hospice. Walking around, we were constantly approached by beggars, which quickly began to take it's toll..."no, I can't give you anything, but in 20 minutes, I'm going to spend 50 rupees on an ice cream that I don't need". The guilt factor reared it's head again, but there were so many of them, this overwhelming feeling of helplessness began to take hold of me. I mean, even if we could give 100 rupees to each of them, what would it solve? The only way I could handle it was to be pretty cold to all of them, giving them a firm NO, or just ignoring them, but that act also got to me quickly, because honestly, they-we- are just trying to get through life, why should I treat them badly or meanly just because I've been dealt a better hand? But how can we help everyone or even 1% of them? There were just too many people in need. Also, the staring and overwhelming majority of men in the streets really got to me in Kolkata. Walking through the markets, there were areas in which I was literally the only woman within sight, and in which almost every set of male eyes were trained on me, something that gets very intimidating, extremely quickly. And the driving! It seemed that every driver was in a contest to a) get to their destination faster than anyone else gets to theirs, and b) to get the closests to hitting all pedestrians as possible, bonus points for causing the look of sheer ohmygodthey're going to hit me, panic in their eyes speeding by...but we're back to Kolkata in two days, I'm open to changing my opinion of the city!

which bring me to...

March 15, 2009

Agra e Fatehpur Sikri

Sabado 21.02.09

Hoje madrugamos e levantamo-nos antes do nascer do sol para nos juntarmos a mais um par de dezenas de pessoas que esperavam em fila que o Taj abrisse as suas portas. Acabou por abrir meia hora depois do previsto e perdemos a transicao da noite para o crepusculo mas ainda assim podemos vislumbrar a transformacao deste num belo amanhecer. Ao passarmos o primeiro arco deparamo-nos com a ja classica e mundialmente conhecida imagem do tumulo enquadrada pelos jardins e lencois de agua. Tentamos dissipar-nos da restante multidao e procurar o nosso recanto para que podessemos apreciar a metamorfose cromatica do marmore que transita do branco azulado da noite para o branco rosado do amanhecer. La encontramos um banco de jardim a sombra de uma grande arvore e por ali ficamos quase 1h30 a apreciar este edificio tentando perceber se realmente existe pese o facto de estar mesmo em frente dos nosso olhos! Ainda me lembro de ontem, quando pela primeira vez o vi desde a janela da nossa "suite", me questionar sobre a sua autenticidade ou se era apenas uma miragem entre a poluicao e o ruido de Agra! Agora que estou tao perto que lhe posso tocar comeco a aperceber-me de todos os pequenos e minuciosos detalhes que conferem a elegancia ao edificio apesar da sua grandiosa escala. Aproveitei para fazer um esquisso visto ser nestes momentos nos quais conseguir percepcionar os mais pequenos detalhes e ler o edificio de 1001 maneiras... e posso explicar-vos porque... porque mesmo para o olho treinado de um arquitecto quando nos deparamos com um edificio ou paisagem nao conseguimos, num primeiro momento, focalizar os pequenos detalhes que acabam por formar o todo. Primeiro fazemos uma leitura geral do "objecto" e apenas depois partimos para uma analise particular. Por isso este e' um exercicio do qual extraio enorme prazer porque permite-me ver por detras das cortinas e interpretar o edificio nas suas varias escalas apercebendo-me quer dos delicados e coloridos floreados decorativos cravados no marmore branco quer no posicionamento dos 4 minaretes que enquadram o tumulo e lhe conferem uma verticalidade pontual e redistribuem o peso. No entanto fiquei bastante desiludido com o templo no seu interior, muito escuro e praticamente despojado de decoracao, essencialmente visto ter sido confrontado a momentos com o seu involucro. Com o passar do tempo comecei a aperceber-me que se calhar a intencao era mesmo essa... como a celebracao da vida, de um passado e de um amor no seu exterior e a tristeza pesarosa e sombria da morte no seu interior, como uma concha muito bonita que por vezes encontramos a beira-mar para apenas segundos depois se revelar vazia e desprovida de vida...

March 13, 2009


I'm sitting in an internet cafe right now in Thiruchirapalli, a city near Madurai in the South, we've been a little bit out of touch lately, choosing to spend time laying on the beach in Goa, or going from one little town to another without stopping for Internet, but here are a few bits from my journals of the last few days...

March 8, 2009 -- On the coast of India...

I'm sitting next to Sergio right now at a table outside, shaded by coconut trees with the beginning of the sunset peeking through the branches, drinking the coconut water from a fresh coconut, and listening to the waves crashing on the beach nearby. We're staying at a family run resort and the owners are super friendly and welcoming here at Tarkarli Beach. I am so calm and at peace right now, after a day spend sleeping in, then walking miles down a deserted beach, stopping for fish curry and coming back to spend the afternoon writing, that it seems impossible that just two days ago we were winding our way through the chaos of Mumbai. The two places are worlds apart, even though only 400km away in reality. We spent two days in Mumbai, and although I felt like we only scratched the surface of the city, I was pleasantly surprised by it, much prettier than Delhi and much prettier than I imagined it to be. My first impression of the city was that it was crowded, modern, and contained the entire specturm of wealth-slums gave way to skyscrapers, which gave way back into slums, and then back into high rise luxury apartments. In traffic, we were approached by beggars at every stop, yet air conditioned luxury SUV's whizzed past us in our non-AC taxi. The two days there went by so quickly, just walking around and taking everything in. I want to go back for a longer visit, because, as I said, I feel like we only tasted a tiny drop of Mumbai life, only seeing the major touist monuments and eating a small sample of the food, and basically only gettting a glance at life in the city. Mumbai, I will be back!

March 9, 2009

Scootering around in Goa...

I'm currently laying in a cottage on the beach in Goa, an ex-Portuguese colony, listening to an American blues song that is blasting over a set of loudspeakers outside our beach cottage because the Indian-owned resort is having a Russian dance party tonight. Weird.

As soon as we arrived to Goa, we rented a scooter, since we were told it was the easiest way to get around....I can't begin to describe the chaos that is driving in India, so the best way I can think of to illustrate the experience is to give you my stream of thoughts for about 1 minute on the scooter...Now, I'm going to censor it a little, but generally when an expletive is used, it's because a car/motorcycle/autorickshaw/huge bus has passed us, but only just barely, we have passed a car/bus/motorcycle/autorickshaw, but only just barely, or some other really close call has happened. Also, I generally try to avoid using the Lord's name in vain, but something about riding on that scooter in heavy traffic had me invoking His name more than an evangelical preacher in his Sunday morning sermon, so I've replaced all those with the word Jelly.

so, 30 seconds inside Crystal's head while riding on a scooter in Goa and....go!!:

"ah, this is nice, the wind in our hair, the sun on our shoulders, actually, I think I would really like to buy a scooter when we get back to the States, I bet it gets great gas mile--oh sweet mother of all that is good and holy, there is a BUS coming straight towards us, why is there a huge bus in our lane, oh jelly, we're not going to--ok, unclench the hands, eeeeeee, f***, s***, that was really close, eeeeeeeeee, ok, sergio slow down, s l o w d o w--speedupspeedupspeedup!!!! there's a huge truck coming up really fast behind us, eeeeeeeee, sweet jelly, ok, this is ok, sergio is a good driver--cow, cow, COW there is a cow in the road and it's just staring at us, practically daring us to hit it...s***, ok, now there's something in my eye, ow ow, a mosquito flew directly into my eye, of all the places it could have flown, but how can i close my eyes?? then I won't be able to see where we are going and won't be able to warn Sergio of imminent danger, eeeeeeee, owowowow, SPEED BUMP!, EEEEEEEEEE"

and it goes on like that for the entire duration of the drive, however long that may be.

The rest of Goa was great, beautiful beaches, pretty Porutugese colonial houses, Portuguese Catholic churches, and fresh fruit:)

Eventually, we had to leave Goa, and I can completely see why some people arrive and end up just staying there. Everything is so easy and so nice, really idyllic. Reluctantly though, we packed up our bags, put our swimsuits, sunscreen, and my skimpy sundresses into the bottom of our backpacks and have taken back out the long skirts, long scarves, and pants, and prepared our "we might have on backpacks, but we're not your average gullible tourist looks". We also gave up the keys to our independent scooter, and have gotten used to hopping on random trains, negotiating with autorickshaw drivers, and taking 5 hour bus rides for 200 km on bumpy roads with no A/C.

So, we're back to "real" India, but the South is really pretty, and I feel its spirituality greatly. In the North, religion and spirituality were in everything, but more like a whisper or a gentle influence that you couldn't really pinpoint, but felt it's presence. In the South, religion shouts its influence from the rooftops, sometimes literally, with many ceilings and roofs carved with various religious figures, almost everyone wearing Hindu symbols on their foreheads, and Hindu temples on almost every corner.

Ok, off to find dinner, but we'll post more soon, and try to get some pictures on here!

Ate ja...

March 3, 2009

Taking it slow...

We are in Diu right now, an ex-Portuguese colony and taking things nice and slow, blending right into the rhythm of this little city. We've rented a scooter, and have been riding it (Scotty) all over the island for the last few days, without a real destination, just taking everything in. The last two days, we've come back to our guesthouse at night (owned by an Indo-Portuguese family, really nice and cosy) and said to each other, what exactly did we DO today?? And I believe the right answer is: recover from the last two weeks. The beaches here are nice, the seafood is fresh, the sun is hot, and the people are friendly. The most intellectually stimulating part of my day today occurred in the restaurant where we stopped for lunch, in the bathroom, where I was forced to devote way too much time to trying to figure out which part of the floor was actually the toilet, and which way exactly to face. If figuring out the bathroom constituted the most challenging part of my day, I have no complaints....you learn something new in India everyday, I tell you:)

The Portuguese influence really still lingers here, if you listen closely enough, you can catch snippets of conversations in Portuguese, and bits of Portuguese society and customs pop up between the cows, curry dishes, and autorickshaws. The blending of the Indian and Portuguese has created an interesting culture, and we have been thoroughly enjoying exploring the city: the old, crumbling fort, three Catholic churches, and the winding streets. I was surprisingly comforted upon walking into a Catholic church here, this is what most draws me to Catholicism, I can be in the middle of the confusion of India or the confusion of anywhere, yet walk into a Catholic church and have that feeling of coming home.

We leave Diu tomorrow to keep travelling towards Mumbai, where I'm sure our pace will pick right back up again.

So, off to go pass a few more leisurely hours before bedtime...we finally posted a first batch of pictures, go check them out!


Boa noite!!

March 2, 2009

Mathura, Vrindavan e Agra

Sexta 20.02.09

Hoje acordamos um pouco mais cedo do que o costume para vermos o nascer do sol no rio Yamuna nos ghats de Mathura. Negociamos um passeio de barco durante 30m com um "capitao" muito engracado que nao parava de referir-se ao rio como a "mae" de todos aqueles que habitam as suas margens desde os devotos que se banham naquelas aguas sagradas ate aos macacos, flamingos, pelicanos... Estes sao os figurantes que dinamizam o cenario fantasmagorico e decadente daquela que no passado deve ter sido uma cidade importante com algumas historias escondidas por entre todas aquelas ruinas. Se a tudo isto juntarmos o facto de que uma bruma pairava no ar filtrando lentamente um nascer do sol que pintava a paisagem em tons alaranjados num silencio apenas interrompido pelo bater constante dos remos na agua e pelos esporadicos gritos de um macaco ou do piar de uma ave, Mathura revela-se como uma pintura saida do romantismo do seculo XIX. Mas e ai que reside exactamente o seu maior encanto, na facilidade com que nos transporta no tempo e deixa a nossa imaginacao divagar por entre idealizacoes de como a cidade seria no seu passado glorioso...

De volta ao hotel tentamos negociar um taxi que nos levasse ate Vindravan e depois Fatehpur Sikri mas em vao. Estes indianos preferem perder dinheiro e uma boa oportunidade de fazer negocio com mais lucro do que normal do que nao extorquir escandalosamente um turista!!!

Enfim... la regateamos mais um preco para que um auto-rickshaw nos levasse ate Vindravan com paragens em alguns templos pelo caminho, a maior parte deles devotos a Krishna e que apos observar mais atentamente as figuras mecanizadas pintadas em azul no Templo de Pagal Baba e pensar na sua historia, passado e presente me levou a conclusao de que este episodio do Hinduismo e os devotos de Krishna me arrepiam a espinha! Do conjunto de templos que visitamos aqueles que mais se destacaram foram os templos de Govinda e Rangaji onde os locais nao paravam de nos alertar para o facto de que os macacos nos iam roubar os oculos de sol. Estes templos estao mais bem conservados do que os de Mathura mas a sua volta existe o mesmo tipo de decadencia e passado fantasmagorico ou antes assombrado.

February 28, 2009

What's a Canvan, you ask?


We've been having great experiences and not so great experiences in the last week, but a couple stick out in my mind.....

We were in Agra on Feb. 21 and 22, and those two days emerged as a patch of light in our travels. The time in Agra began luckily, with an autorickshaw driver picking us up outside the train station, and unlike any other auto driver we have met so far gave us a fair price without trying to rip us off. Pradeep is his name, and he turned out to one of the warmest, most open hearted people we have ever met:) He drove us around for these two days, pointing out places we would like to see, warning us of scams that might happen, and finally, inviting us to dinner with his family the night before we left. And his family was just an extension of him, open, inviting, generous, and his daughter and daughter in law gave me Hina on my hands and dressed me up Indian style:) Of course, while in Agra, we saw beautiful things, the sunset on the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Fatepur Sikre (a ghost town that used to be the capital of India, but was abandoned for lack of water), but those moments of human generosity stick out the most. After constantly having to watch out for people trying to scam us somehow, it was a refreshing couple of days to be treated so warmly and happily, and our time in Agra passed pleasantly.

Had a wonderfully Indian day on Feb. 24. A long 24 hours, and as we've come to expect here, full of ups and downs...

The day started after our first night train, which had surprisingly comfortable berths. I don't know if it was the rocking of the train or exhaustion from travelling, but I slept like a baby and the 8 hour train ride from Jhansi to Khandwa went by in the blink of an eye. So, we arrived to Khandwa, a city about 100 km from the town we actually wanted to see. We tried to get a taxi at the train station to get us to where we wanted to go, a pretty mountain town called Mandu, but were not given a cheap, fair price by anyone, so we decided to brave taking a bus. After the usual haggling over price, we finally settled on a fair amount and set off, thus starting a long day filled with travelling, heat, bargaining for a good price, and me and my stomach fighting off the effects of the day before deciding that it was ok to drink that glass of fresh orange juice that most likely included a healthy amount of tap water (not recommended, no matter how "Western" the restaurant seems!!). The bus ride was not too bad, about 2 hours, going through little Indian towns with some really pretty landscapes. We arrived to the town that the bus agreed to take us to, Omkareshwar, a weird little pilgramage town on the banks of a river, with a huge chaotic, dirt parking lot being used as a bus station. There were so many Indians there making pilgramages to this little town, but we were definitely the only foreigners at that place. We then had to look for another ride to get to Mandu, and after asking tons of people and getting directed to five different corners of the parking lot, we found a vehicle to take us, and I use the word vehicle because I'm not sure what to call it exactly. If a minivan and an aluminum can had a baby, this is what the baby would look like, so it shall now be referred to as the canvan....and with it began the bumpiest ride of my life up to the top of the mountain. Seriously, the bumpiest ride ever, due to bad roads and the canvan's apparent dislike and refusal to use any sort of suspension system.

So, on the bumpiest ride possible, in the canvan, with loud music playing with the driver and his friend talking loudly in the the front seat, and as those of you who know me will not be shocked to hear..I got something in my eye. And a big something that caused burning and tears and just wouldn't get out.

So, there I was, with all of my senses on overload because of the myriad smells that were wafting in when we passed by frying food, bus exhaust pipes, public restrooms, cows, and the loud Hindi music playing with the driver and his friend talking over it, the heat, the wind blowing in through the open windows (no AC), and every muscle in my body tensed trying to keep everything in that's supposed to be in (ie: myself in the vehicle, last night's dinner in my stomach) and get everything out of me that's supposed to be out (ie: the dirt in my eye, the exhaust from passing traffic from my lungs), holding on for dear life as we pass over the worst roads ever. At this point, I begin silently cursing Sergio for bringing me here, as it was his plan (couldn't he have just taken me to see the Taj Mahal like everybody else??) , and just when I started thinking that on the next big bump, I may give myself a little boost to actually propel myself out of the vehicle and out of this ride because I just couldn't take it anymore!!...something happened. We arrived to our destination, my eye cleared up, I took a fresh breath of mountain air and looked around. And realized, that once again, as is the case with most things that Sergio insists on us seeing, it was all worth it.

First, we went to see a tomb of an old ruler, pretty and peaceful. We then went to the Royal Enclave, a huge area of ruins that was said to be used for a ruler and his harem (of 15,000 women!) , and it was beautiful! Such intricate architecture, such beautiful decorations, and all of it still exising now, thousands of years later. Then, we went farther up the mountain to a place called Rupmati's Pavilion that provided one of the most spectacularly breathtaking views of the valley below that I've ever seen. The sun was setting , the colors were vibrant and the land went on for miles. It was beautiful. Then we got back into our canvan and started the long journey back down as the sun set behind the mountains. As I looked out the dirty window at one of the most beautiful sunsets I've ever seen, becoming airborne with every big bump in the road, with the blasting Hindi music in the background, and the sweet smell of pollution filling my lungs once again, I realized that ride, that moment was the perfect metaphor for India. Chaotic, dirty, full of bumpy roads and scary turns, but if you're able to look through all of it , or perhaps look despite all of it, you find awe-inspiring, unique spiritual beauty.

Unfortunately, just as we were taking a breath of relief that the day was over, India threw us another curve ball--our vehicle broke down. Our dear canvan started leaking oil and just stopped working, perhaps in protest of the bumpy roads we had subjected him to all day long. We sat for about 30 minutes waiting for someone to come along and help us. Then a little pickup truck stopped and they decided to try to tie the two vehicles together with a little string of rope and pull us the 60km that were left to get back to town, on really bumpy roads. It didn't work, but as we were stopped for the 30th time, trying to tie the two vehicles back together, a bus passed that just happened to be going where we wanted to go!! We happily said goodbye to our driver and the canvan, and boarded the bus and promptly fell asleep, only to wake up about two hours later to the driver telling us that this was the last stop and now it's time to get out and catch the bus that would take us where we wanted to go. Turns out, they weren't at all going to the place they said, and we actually ended up another 30km in the opposite direction. Basically, they took our money, and drove us around until the end of their route. So, we got ANOTHER bus that promised us to be going where we wanted to go, and after three hours of windy roads with a driver who seemed to think he was part of the Formula One, we finally, finally arrived at our destination, ready to catch another train. A long day, but fabulously Indian in its course:)

Currently, we are in Daman, an old Portguese colony and it's a really pretty little town. We're off to catch a train in 2 hours, and have started our calmer portion of the trip, the next few days will be spent near the beach, in a more laid back part of India. As a friend we met along the way told us the other day, we've been travelling in "hard" India until now, so we're welcoming the change of pace!

I put up a few pics from London, still have to sort out the thousands of other ones we've taken...

Sending love from India...

February 23, 2009


QUARTA 18.02.06

Acordamos por volta das 8h00 e tomamos um banho e preparamos para mais um dia desta odisseia. Tomamos o pequeno almoco no restaurante na cobertura alheio a azafama que se passa la em baixo no Main Bazzar (para que possam imaginar melhor como e que estes bazzars se parecem imagem uma rua que parece um campo de batatas, com lama e poeira ao mesmo tempo, vacas e caes vadios, fezes e lixo espalhados por tudo quanto e canto e no R/C de cada edificio arruinado lojas que vendem de tudo! Ok agora juntem-lhe centenas de pessoas e rickshaws e motorizadas... ja ficam com uma ideia hehe). Por volta das 10h partimos em direccao a chadni chowk onde estao os principais bazzars de Delhi e consequentemente as maiores zonas de caos e densidade populacional. Logo ao sair do hotel um palerma (nao tem outro nome) segiu-nos o caminho todo ate a um cruzamento e perguntou-nos se queriamos um auto-rickshaw (triciclo motorizado) e para onde onde. Depois de negociarmos acordamos 20 rupias para chandni chowk. Entramos num auto e fomos na direccao errada! eu pensei... deixa andar mais um bocado pode ser que conhecam melhores caminhos e dar a volta para fugir ao transito... entretanto a crystal apercebeu-se que eu tava a dizer que iamos na direccao errada e ficou logo desconfiada e zangada embora o conductor nos tenha dito que aquele era o melhor caminho... passado 200m parou para mijar... foi a gota de agua e saimos e fomos a procura de outro auto-rickshaw. Caminhos durante 10m e acabamos por ir num cycle-rickshaw ate ao nosso destino. Logo no inicio dos bazzars existe uma mesquita islamica "Fatehpuri Masdij" onde nos sentamos durante uns minutos para recuperar psicologicamente do impacto causado pelo caos, cheiros, cores... e relaxar junto a uma fonte onde alguns miudos estudavam. Acabamos por ter uma breve conversa e descobrimos que existe uma escola adjacente a mesquita. Despedimo-nos deste jovens estudantes e deste oasis de paz que incrivelmente se veio situar no meio de toda a confusao inerente aos bazzars onde acabamos por comprar um saree e um dupatta (lenco) para a crystal e um Kurta pajama para mim numa lojita escondida numa ruelas labirinticas por detras da rua principal. Pelo caminho experimentamos os jalebis mais famosos de Delhi numa esquinazita com um bazzar de "ourives" (basicamente e massa de fartura frita e mergulhada num xarope acucarado que resultou ser doce e enjoativo demais ate para um guloso como eu).

Continuamos a caminhada por Chandni Chowk que no extremo Este e rematada pelo Forte Vermelho ou "Lal Qila". Imponente e grandioso e' sem duvida alguma um importante testimonio do imperio Mughal em Delhi construido em pedra arenito vermelha que se extende por 2km que enclausuram uns agradaveis jardins entre templos e ruinas habitados por esquilos, falcoes, coloridas borboletas, papagaios... e novamente esta sensacao de contraste entre o presente e o passado... o pandemonio de uma socieade/economia em crescimento destravado explanado nas ruas e o silencio dos fantasmas do passado apenas ainda mais acentuado pelo cantar dos passaros que habitam esta fortaleza.
Saimos do forte de volta para o caos das ruas de Delhi e caminhamos ate a Jama Masdij, a principal mesquita muculmana em Delhi e a maior em toda a India foi erguida pelo mesmo imperador mughal que construiu o Lal Qila em 1658 no cimo de uma colina. Possui dois grandiosos minaretes com 40m de altura, a um dos quais subimos para apreciar as preveligiadas vistas em 360 graus de toda a cidade. Ainda brinquei um bocado com miudos que acabaram por tirar uma foto com a Crystal. Ah! Obrigaram a Crystal a vestir uma tunica que a cobria dos ombros ate aos pes por ser mulher, facto ao qual ela nao anuiu facilmente, mas la a convenci e podemos testumunhar esta bela mesquita e a intrinseca devocao dos muculmanos.
Saimos da mesquita por voltas das 16:00 e esfomeados apos a jornada desde o hotel ate Chandni Chowk e o Lal Qila mais a escalada ao topo do minarete fomos almocar ao Karim's. Famoso pela excelente cozinha mughal comemos um optimo "burra" (churrasco mughal) de cabra.
Apos o almoco, ja tardio, fomos visitar o tumulo/memorial do Ghandi onde o seus restos foram cremados por uma chama que nunca mais se extinguiu e la continuara assinalando a vida e os feitos de um grande Homem. O sol aproximava-se do horizonte e uma leve brisa cruzava o patio onde esta o tumulo. Com o crepusculo fomos invadidos por uma paz interior que interpretamos como um ola do proprio Ghandi ou um bem-vindo a India... desfrutem desta bela odisseia que acaba de comecar... e assim foi perdidos no tempo e espaco despertamos daquele sentimento hipnotico com o silvar de um assobio... era o porteiro do parque a avisar os ultimos visitantes de que o parque ja estava a fechar... e la fomos nos de volta para o hotel com o espirito recarregado para os proximos dias.
QUINTA 19.02.09
Mais um pequeno almoco e la caminhamos ate um pequeno posto de turismo onde tivemos que regatear o preco de um auto-rickshaw... nada facil para nao variar e a Crystal ja comeca a ficar farta destas pessoas que so pensem em extorquir dinheiro aos turistas. Mas la consegui arranjar um bom preco para vermos o Qtub Minar, o Lotus Temple e o Gurdwara Bangla Sahib.
Este "arco do triunfo" afgao data do sec. XII e o mais bem preservado edificio pertencente ao complexo do Qtub Minar onde imponente ruinas comungam entre belos jardins e arvores seculares habitados por formigas gigantes, esquilos, falcoes, corvos e papagaios. Apenas nos resta imaginar como e que este profusamente detalhado minarete com 73 metros de altura se enquadraria naqueles tempos com os edificios adjacentes mas sem qualquer margem para duvidas sempre foi e sempre sera um marco no horizonte de Delhi.
O Bahai Worship House, mais conhecido como "Templo de Lotus", e um templo construido no final da decada de 80 com o intuito de comungar todas as diferentes religioes presentes na India. Qualquer pessoa de qualquer religiao e bem-vinda a este local sagrado para rezar e meditar em paz. Tenho que reconhecer que e', arquitectonicamente, uma das igrejas modernas minhas favoritas. A sua forma unica e o jogo de plataformas com as laminas de agua agarram o edificio ao chao tal e qual como seria de esperar de um caule de uma flor e das suas raizes. No interior, os tectos e as aberturas para entrada de luz estao bem concebidas mas fiquei algo desiludido neste aspecto em particular. Pelo menos quando comparada com obras de outros arquitectos como Tadao Ando ou o Siza que trabalham a luz como um elemento divino de clarividencia que se torna na alma e coracao dos seus edificios. Apos reflectir penso que sera numa tentativa de ser neutro visto nao ser um templo de uma religiao mas um templo da religiao e por isso estar tambem despojado de qualquer figura ou simbolo no seu interior. Ainda assim ficou com a sensacao de uma concha muito bonita mas vazia. No entanto nao deixa de ser uma das minhas igrejas preferidas no que diz respeito a sua concepcao formal e como tal despedimo-nos satisfeitos e fomos almocar.
Depois do almoco e para finalizar Delhi fomos visitar um templo Sikh, o Gurdwara Bangla Sahib. A primeira impressao foi intensa... muito intensa, especialmente para a Crystal. Pareceu que por momentos estavamos num mundo a parte que nao a India apesar de sabermos que existem muitos islamicos, budistas, hindus, etc. neste pais. Contudo o ambiente criado pelas caras a nossa volta, os altos canticos que ecoavam nas arcadas brancas que enclausuram um grande lago e a mesquita com as suas cupulas douradas originaram esta sensacao de estar numa outra dimensao. Como e costume tivemos que tirar o nosso calcado e desta vez tivemos ainda que cobrir as nossas cabecas com um lenco. Para nao mencionar o facto de que eramos os unicos turistas... nem e bem turistas... era mais por sermos os unicos que nao se enquadravam naquele contexto, onde as tais caras rezavam fervorosamente. Concluindo tudo isto contribui para intensificar a experiencia e agudizar os sentidos. A Crystal sentiu que nao estavamos a ser respeitosos ao divagar com uma maquina fotografica na mao e tornar aquele local notoriamente tao sagrado para aquelas caras numa atracao turista e entao eu apressei-me numa breve visita ao interior da mesquita e abandonamos o templo ainda a pensar naquilo que tinhamos acabado de ver e sentir. Partimos para o hotel para recolher as nossas mochilas e metemo-nos num comboio em direccao a Mathura onde pernoitamos. Foi aqui que a vimos a tal "carrinha megafone" da qual a Crystal vos fala num destes posts aqui no blog.
Bem temos que nos meter em mais um comboio...

Regras de Transito


Vou aproveitar estes 10 minutos de net que tenho ate ter de ir apanhar um comboio para resumidamente vos explicar como funcionam as regras de transito na India.

1. Conduz quase sempre pela esquerda
2. Usa a buzina para avisar os outros sobre onde estas e para fazer ultrapassagens
3. Nao batas em ninguem

ok ja esta! espero que tenham gostado hehehe

Stranger Things Have Happened

Quick post today, we're at the train station waiting to get on our first night train. Should be interesting, since so far, we've met the nicest, most good hearted people on the trains. If the area outside the train station takes away my faith in the inherent goodness in people (and it generally does) then the trains themselves were put there to restore my faith in these people because we have only met curious and extremely helpful people on them so far. Good thing, because the confusion with trains continues. We waited for 3 hours for a train last night:S

So, since a million things have happened since we last posted, and we definitely cannot describe them all, we will leave you with a bit of a riddle. We saw the strangest thing in the street the other day, and have yet to be able to wrap our minds around what the hell it was. So, you be the judge:

First, imagine you're riding in a car/on a bike/in an autorickshaw down the street, it's nighttime and you've just arrived to a small town, thinking it will be a sleepy little town, so you've settled down into your seat. Then you approach a big scene: picture a large mini van, then, glue huge megaphone speaker things all over it, say...10.....then glue white christmas lights all over the van as well, and put the brightest white lightbulbs in them that you can find. Also, paint the van with colors like bright pink and bright green, just for fun. In the van, put really loud Hindi music playing and blast it from the speakers. In front of the van, make a 20 piece marching band wearing white and red uniforms walk with their instruments, (don't forget the trombone and bass drum!!) not playing, just generally adding to the strangeness. In front of them, put about 12 kids, each with a lamp on their head, lit up. what kind of lamp, you ask?? take any large lamp from your living room end table and remove the lampshade, it should work. Oh, and place really bright white lightbulbs in those lamps too. In front of THEM, put a group of about 30 people, singing and dancing along to the music and yelling and in the middle of them, place two middle aged men in suits, and have them be dancing and singing too. Oh, and for power, put a man behind the van on a bicycle and attach him to a generator in some configuration of wires and make him peddle the bicycle anytime you need power, which is of course, effectively, all the time.

Did I just walk into some sort of Indian homage to Dr. Suess??

February 20, 2009

Monkey Problem!

Yesterday, I woke up to a goat braying...(baaing?...) outside our hotel window. Today, I saw a cow almost get run over by an incoming train, then walked up the stairs to my room, only to find a monkey at the top of the stairs, staring at me. As we were walking into a temple today, all the locals started pointing at our sunglasses and yelling, MONKEY PROBLEM!! MONKEY
PROBLEM!! apparently, the monkeys would have stolen them off our heads, because there were tons of monkeys hanging out at that temple. Last night, we stayed at a very budget hotel, and spent a good 30 minutes trying to figure out if that white movement we saw in the corner when we first turned on the light was a mouse or a lizard. I never thought I would say the
words, "oh, thank goodness, it's just a giant lizard that is here to eat all the bugs". I feel closer to nature than ever, although we've been in the city the entire time we have been here. Just another contradiction to add to the list that India presents.
Every time I solidify a feeling, thought, or observation something happens to completely turn it around.
So, we spent two days in Delhi, walking around, bargaining, and seeing the sights. I can't say I loved the city, but it does have some beautiful places. We visited breathtakingly peaceful parks, tombs, and temples that seem to be haven of calm in the otherwise completely chaotic rhythm of the city. Being a foreigner, and sticking out like crazy, seemed to plant a huge, "come rip us off" sticker on our foreheads, but inside these parks and monuments, I really got the feeling of why so many people consider India to be such a sacred, spiritual place. Among other things we went to see the Ghandi memorial, a beautiful park with lots of green trees, with Ghandi's remains in the middle, the Red Fort, the Jama Masjid, and a couple of street bazaars that almost literally made my head spin with all the people, sights, colors, smells, and sounds. And the experience of those markets was intensified one hundred fold by almost every pair of eyes following us, every step of the way that we are in the line of vision. We're slowly buying Indian clothes and waiting for our tans to kick in, which will hopefully give us a rest from the scrutiny that follows us everywhere, but generally our backpacks give us away immediately. I know it's all curiousity and without bad intent, but it can also be intense! Delhi was also filled with people trying to
get us to pay more money for something, buy something, or trick us into spending more money or buying something. It was exhausting after awhile, always trying to keep your guard up for who is sincere and who is just trying to make a few extra rupees.
We then had our first experience on an Indian train, which can only be described as-and I know that I have been using this word often, but-CHAOS. Thousands of people, no conductors around to help, people outside the train station running scams, overbooked trains, late trains. We've ridden two trains so far, and for each one, we just hopped on a car, and sat wherever
we could find a place...with some nice help from people along the way.
So, I've been oscillating between thoughts since the first day, It's like, just when I get disgusted by something so much that I want to just go home, something amazing, wonderful and unique happens, and the other way around. I'm pushed quickly from one extreme to another. It's in getting annoyed and a bit angry with aggressive people at the entrance to the Jama Masjid, a Muslim mosque, for making me put on a floor length smock before entering (what?? you're making me cover up from head to toe?? I'm no bleeding heart feminist, but still) and getting annoyed with the entire completely man-centered Indian society, then a group of really sweet kids comes up and asked to take a picture with me...just because I am a pretty girl in their eyes, effectively restoring my faith in the innocence of children and settling the rabid feminist in me. It's in walking on the traffic filled streets with honks, stares, and so much pollution that I begin to feel I can't quite get a clean breath, and then entering into Ghandi's memorial and instantly feeling peace. It's in sitting in a cafe, drinking a chai, and thinking all is good, but then walking out into the street and getting conned by a guy who said he can make change for a 100 rupee bill, but then gave us only 90 useful rupees (we got the other 10 back eventually) and above all, it's in feeling the poverty intensely and wanting to help everyone, but then bargaining for 20 rupees less on the rickshaw ride because you're tired of paying 5 times more for everything just because you're obviously foreign and tired of the seemingly endless scams, and overly aggressive beggars. The beggars themselves are a contradiction: You can't fault them for being
petulant, sneaky, overly persistent, aggressive, and rude because life turned them into that, having to beg for your next meal outside a restaurant where people are throwing food away does that to a person, but then you also don't want to give in to everyone, to feel the heavy weight of helping them all.
Today, we are in Agra, a beautiful city, which has restored my faith in India, and things are good. We just returned from seeing the sun setting from the banks of the river across from the Taj Mahal....so beautiful.
So, we've been sightseeing, trying to see everything worth seeing, but of course, it's impossible to see it all, and I already feel like we're running out of time, and India shoves everything, every feeling at us at once, so for now, my motto is, one day at a time:)
More soon!! With love....
Pictures later....

Prologo e chegada a India

SABADO 14.02.09
Pois bem, tal como a crystal ja explicou em ingles, apos uma noite sem dormir a ultimar detalhes e a encolher a nossa vida e uma farmacia (obrigado mae) numa mochila para carrega-la as costas durante os proximos 5 meses despedimo-nos dos meus pais e irmas e partimos em direccao a Valenca com o Daniel e a Kathina onde divagamos pelo forte e petiscamos uns bolinhos de bacalhau e umas cervejinhas numa esplanada duma pequena praca inundada por um sol que nao se via ha ja dois meses! Nao podiamos aspirar a um melhor comeco apos dois meses de chuva e frio!

A meio da tarde partimos em direccao a Santiago de Compostela onde no dia seguinte de manha apanhamos o voo para Londres. Chegamos a Santiago ja por volta das 18h espanholas mesmo a tempo de ver o por do sol iluminar todo o "Obradoiro" - fachada principal - e o Hotel dos Reis Catolicos e explorar o "casco viejo". A noite jantamos tapas na "Calle de Franco" e emborcamos duas garrafas de vinho tinto. Comeu-se bem embora o preco final fosse um bocado "puxadote". Dormimos em casa da minha irma Ines onde fomos muito bem recebidos pela Rita.

DOMINGO 15.02.09

Na manha de Domingo partimos em direccao ao aeroporto e despedimo-nos do Daniel e da Kathina...que juntamente com a Crystal nao conteve as lagrimas... vamos ter saudades daqueles dois!

Aterramos em Londres - Stansted - e apanhamos um autocarro para o centro. Muita construcao a sul de Londres devido ao J.O. de 2012 e ainda alguns resquicios de neve acumulados nas bermas de algumas estradas.

Frio, chuva e vento! Nao podia fazer mais jus a imagem pre-concebida idealizada na nossa cabeca quando nos vem a cabeca a cidade de Londres. No entanto deixou-me imediatamente com uma primeira impressao muito positiva e a prometer ainda mais, Londres tem tudo... parece-me que a cidade conseguiu juntar passado, presente e futuro atraves de um processo de osmose, sabendo absorver as quantidades e proporcoes ideais para harmoniosamente conciliar a interaccao entre os tres. Devido a intemperie e ao peso das mochilas decidimos saltar para dentro de um autocarro turistico valido por 48h mais um passeio de barco no rio Tamisa. Ao anoitecer encontramo-nos com o Gavin, uma das amizades travadas em Valencia, e a irma, Naomi num tipico pub no districto de Angel enquanto esperavamos que o Sye, amigo de longa data das ferias em Cullera, saisse do trabalho e se juntasse a nos. Incrivel como aquele bairro borbulhava intensamente apesar de ser domingo a noite. Todos os pubs estavam cheios para o tipico "Sunday's Roast" ao qual nao ficamos alheios. Concluimos a noite numa sala de cinema aproveitando o facto do filme "Slumdog Millionaire" ja ter estreado no Reino Unido. E...que filme!!!Dormimos confortavelmente em casa do Sye preparando o itinerario para o dia seguinte.

SEGUNDA 16.02.09
Na manha de Segunda o Sye deu-nos uma boleia ate a estacao de comboio uma vez que tinhamos que ir a Wembley para levantar os nossos passes de comboio para a India. Durante a viagem os suburbios verdes com casas de telhados escuros e inclinados apenas foram interrompidos pelo majestoso arco do estadio de Wembley. Apos levantar os passes apanhamos o metro para Westminster e o seu Big Ben. A Crystal ficou desapontada com Buckimgham mas disfrutou dos jardins reais, Trafalgar Square e Picaddily. Almocamos num restaurante japones - Wagamama - onde pude experimentar um optimo "Ramen". Depois de almocar fizemos o passeio de barco ate a Ponte de Londres. Voltamos para casa do Sye a meio da tarde onde reencontrei o irmao, Omar, e mae que acabou por nos dar uma boleia ate ao aeroporto. O check-in e o embarque decorreu sem quaisquer tipo de problemas apenas constatando que eramos dois dos poucos ocidentais no voo. O aviao revelou-se confortavel e foi o mais espacoso em que ja estive uma vez que para surpresa minha nao batia, nem de perto, com os joelhos no banco da frente. Para alem do mais tinhamos um visor LCD com filmes, musica, documentarios... A comida e o servico nao foram maus mas tambem ja tive muito melhor. De qualquer maneira fica registado um adeus a Londres. Foi um prazer conhece-la e ai voltaremos de certeza.

TERCA 17.02.09
Ja a sobrevoar o deserto do Teerao na fronteira com o Paquistao travamos amizade com o passageiro do lado, Sid. Indiano nos seus 29 anos que ja viveu nos USA e agora vive em Londres com varios negocios entre Londres e Delhi! Ofereceu-nos uma boleia com o carro que o ia buscar ao aeroporto e logo ali, ainda antes de aterramos, os nossos planos e os nossos mais de 6 meses de planeamento sofreram as primeiras "metamorfoses". Era mesmo isto de que estavamos a espera da India, so nao estavamos a espera era que acontecesse antes de la chegarmos! O Sid ficou no escritorio depois de me ajudar a trocar alguns euros por rupias e pediu ao conductor para nos deixar ficar no "Lotus Temple" uma vez que o Sid tinha dito que ficava muito perto do escritorio... so que pelo caminho como o condutctor nao tinha muita certeza de para onde ia acabou por nos deixar no "Lhodi Garden" e no seu complexo de templos em ruinas. Mais uma ligeira metamorfose que se revelou perfeita! Cansados da viagem e com as mochilas as costas, depois de cruzar o trafico caotico e infernal na zona sul de Delhi pudemos relaxar sentados ao sol com uma brisa suave apreciando o fantastico cenario em ruinas habitado por uma multitude de aves incluindo corvos, falcoes e papagaios, assim como esquilos e arvores centenarias. Foi aqui que comecamos a apercebermo-nos dos grandes contrastes sociais da India...e do contraste brutal entre os espacos caoticos e os espacos zen, a pobreza e a riqueza, a bondade e a maldade! Esta ideia foi ainda mais reforcada quando travamos mais uma amizade, com o Lokesh, que se aproximou educamente de nos e que durante a nossa conversa, sentados na relva e enquanto eu esquissava a paisagem, se revelou uma pessoa extremamente culta a acabar um Phd em historia e que trabalhava em colaboracao com a campanha turistica governamental "Incredible India!". Apos despedirmo-nos do Lokesh exploramos o resto do complexo e partimos em direccao ao "Tumulo de Safdarjang" onde disfrutamos do por do sol e tempo para mais um desenho. Ao anoitecer partimos para o caos do Main Bazzar em Paharganj e escolher o nosso quarto de hotel que tinha um agradavel restaurante na coberturam onde comi o melhor caril da minha vida!. Cansados, montamos a nossa rede mosquiteira e adormecemos profundamente abracados um ao outro. E preciso aproveitar enquanto ainda nao esta muito quente... lololol por agora a temperatura e amena (25C - 14C) e a humidade nao ultrapassa os 45%. Embora o ceu esteja sempre azul ha sempre uma nevoa no ar...mais particularmente smog...fumo...va la bastante poluicao apenas dissipadas entre jardins e tumulos....

Amanha ha mais...
Beijos e abracos

February 17, 2009

The Sweet Taste of India

First of all, happy birthday to Kathina!! :D We wish we were celebrating with you!

Now, a quick summary of the last few days:

After a sleepless night spent, as usual, frantically packing and tying up loose ends, we began our trip with Daniel and Kathina to Santiago de Compostela for the weekend. Good bye's in Braga were not too bad, mostly because they were a cheerful, see you in May to the family:) Portugal even gave us a good bye present--beautiful clear blue skies, warm temperatures, and the sun! The four of us stopped in Valenca, a cute like town within the walls of an old fort on the Spanish/Portuguese border and it was a perfect afternoon! We explored a bit, eventually ending up at a little cafe on the street in the sun drinking superbock, eating bolinhos de bacalhau and, as always, having great conversation. We spent the rest of the day in Santiago de Compostela, catching the last rays of the sun as they hit the facade of the cathedral. We finished off the night with tapas and wine, a great day spent in Spain.

I boarded the plane to London the next day with mixed and conflicting emotions. Excitement for the adventure we were beginning, apprehension at the unknown, and sadness for leaving Portugal, and saying good bye to Kathina and Daniel. Not that we will not see each other in the future, or that Sergio and I won't return to Portugal, but it was not just saying good bye to friends and family temporarily, it was saying goodbye to a whole chapter in our lives, a happy one, so to quote Friends "It's the end of an era!!"

It was especially hard to say bye, to Kathina and Daniel...some people come into our lives and fall into step beside us so quietly, so easily, so happily that when we stop and take a minute to look back, we're startled to realize just how great of a presence they have created and how much you will miss their presence when they're not around. That's what our friendship meant to me during a time of huge readjustment in my life--like slipping on a comfy pair of slippers after spending the day walking around in high heels:)

So, we spent the next two days in London, being complete tourists riding around on the tour bus, but it was a great way to see everything, and my previous conceptions of London being a cold and dreary city that I don't want to get to know were completely erased, as I found London to be full of character and a beautiful city. I could spend weeks more there, wandering the streets, enjoying the huge tourist attractions as much as the tiny pub down the street serving Sunday night roasts :)

Which brings me to now....India...intial reaction: WOW. The extreme diversity and intensity of emotions that India has caused only in the first 10 hours of being here are so new and different that I am still processing everything, but I can say that never has a simple place caused such reactions and presented such contradictions to me in such a short period of time. I do believe that the great Aerosmith's "Sweet taste of India" should be more appropriately named "Sweet, sour, bitter, delicious, amazing taste of India because that is what India IS. An epitomy of the concept of contradiction. It's as if here, God/Allah/whoever, decided to present both sides of every story and said, you figure it out. I've never felt so conspicuous yet so insignificant, so much compassion for those in poverty yet so much disgust, such openness to meeting others, yet such suspicion, and so exhilherated yet so nervous.

We arrived safely to Delhi this morning, after a decent flight. On the plane we began to talk to an Indian guy in the seat next to us, Sid, from Delhi/London/New York, and after a bit of chatting, he graciously offered to give us a ride from the airport to Delhi. We of course accepted, and it was the best way to take in all the new sights, sounds, and smells, because everything together was rather overwhelming. We spent the rest of day wandering around the city, laying in the grass in a beautiful park, trying to avoid getting run over by autorickshaws/buses/cars as the only rule of the road in India seems to be one: avoid hitting anyone; everything else, stoplights, crosswalks....optional.

Now,we're simply trying to process all the information, and getting ready for a new day of contradictions for tomorrow!

Ok, back to the chaos of the streets....love to everyone and mais uma vez parabens a Kathina!!:)

Check out pics from the weekend in Santiago!!

With love...

February 11, 2009

Here we go...

Hello, Olá, Kamusta, Namasté!

We've been planning our trip for so long, it's impossible that we're leaving within the next few days. This time next week, we'll be fighting our way through India! And this time 3 months from now, we'll be preparing for the "Wedding of the Century" in Mactang, Philippines:)

It seems like just yesterday that I was standing on my mom’s island, Mactang, in the Philippines, looking out into the ocean, getting swept away in daydreams of my wedding that would someday take place here. It also seems like just yesterday that Sergio and I were sitting in a café on a Friday night, an empty bottle of wine between us, drawing a map of the world, and pointing out everywhere we would like to visit.

These were the first drafts of a couple of dreams, and now, the face of my groom has been filled in, wedding planners have been hired, backpacks been bought and plane tickets booked, and although the guest list of the wedding has increased greatly, and the destination list for our trip has been narrowed down significantly, the excitement and anticipation of both events has only increased infinitively. And now, six months, two full credit cards, one almost empty bank account, fifteen vaccinations, twenty anti-malaria pills, eight visas, one beautiful dress, and a whole lot of wedding planning later, we’re about to leave for the trip and the wedding!

Our trip planning has already hit some obstacles, but I’m hoping it goes along the same lines as “bad dress rehearsal, good opening night” sort of thing. Our biggest clue as to the confusion that India is going to present to us came from trying to obtain our tourist visas from the Embassy here in Portugal. We mailed our passports to the Embassy in Lisbon, only to have to mail three different money orders, all with separate amounts after we kept being told the wrong amount by different people, and a process that was promised to take only one week actually took three.

But this is a part of the travelling and in my experience, some of the best things happen when you’ve deviated off course, looking for your way back.

As for the wedding, I’ve never been the type to have my wedding planned out to the detail, collecting cut outs from magazines for years, so this whole wedding planning across the ocean thing hasn’t presented too much of a problem, especially with the help of my liaison between countries, my mom, but I do admit I will be a bit apprehensive when we first see the set up, if it has anything to do with what I have pictured in my head! But in reality, I’m so excited to go back to the Philippines, and to share our day with family and friends. (although, not as many as we would like!!)

A quick, general Itinerary:

Feb. 15-16: London
Feb. 17 to 15 March : India
Mar. 16-25 : Bhutan
Mar. 25-31: Nepal
April 01-07: India
Apr 08-18 : Myanmar
April 18 to 18 May: Philippines
May 19---THE BIG DAY!!
May 20 to 20 June: Philippines
Jun 20-30: Thailand
July 01-09: Laos
July 10-16: Cambodia
July 17-19: Singapore
July 20-23: Malaysia
July 24 to 15 August: Portugal
August 16... USA

Pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/crystalandsergio/

Keep in touch!! Lots of love.

Parecia ainda ontem que estava na ilha da minha mae, Mactang, nas Filipinas, a olhar para o mar, perdida em pensamentos sobre o meu casamento que um dia, quem sabe, aconteceria por ali.Tambem parecia ainda ontem quando o Sergio e eu estavamos sentados num café numa Sexta feira á noite, com uma garrafa de vinho vazia entre nos e a desenhar um mapa do mundo, a pensar em todos os sitios que gostariamos de visitar.

Era o nosso primeiro rascunho de um par de sonhos e agora, a cara do noivo tomou forma, os "wedding planners" estao contratados, as mochillas foram compradas e, os bilhetes de avião foram marcados! E, apesar de a lista de convidados ser muito maior do que inicialmente, e da lista de destinos ser muito mais pequena, o entusiasmo e a anticipacao destes dois acontecimentos e' enorme! E agora, depois de seis meses, dois cartões de crédito, uma conta bancaria quase vazia, quinze vaccinações, vinte comprimidos contra a malaria, oito vistos, um vestido de noiva maravilhoso, e muito mas muito planeamento de casamento, estamos prontos para partir!

O planeamento da viagem não foi nada facil, mas em inglês temos uma ditado: “mau ensaio, grande noite de estreia” e espero que isto se aplique 'as viagens também! Um bom exemplo sobre o desenrolar dos acontecimentos pelo Sudoeste Asiatico foi o processo de obtencao dos nossos vistos para a India atraves da Embaixada da India em Lisboa. Enviamos os nossos passaportes para a Embaixada com um vale postal relativo ao montante indicado, mas depois entre cancelamentos de vales postais e reenvios de novos vales postais acabamos por ter que mandar tres vales postais, cada um com um montante diferente do outro. Ou seja, um processo que deveria ter demorado uma semana, na realidade demorou tres semanas! Mas este é o aspecto inerente ao "viajar" de que eu mais gosto. As melhores coisas acontecem quando estas perdido, a procura do caminho certo.

Quanto ao casamento, eu nunca fui do tipo de pessoa para planear o meu casamento ate ao mais infimo detalhe nem guardar artigos de revista durante anos pelo que todo este planeamento alem mar nao se revelou tao problematico quanto seria de esperar, em grande parte devido ao meu contacto entre os dois paises, a minha mae, mas tenho que admitir que estarei algo apreensiva quando vislumbrar o "cenario" pela primeira vez e constatar se efectivamente condiz com aquilo que idealizei na minha cabeca! Mas a verdade 'e que estou mesmo excitada com o facto de voltar as Filipinas e partilhar "o nosso dia" com familia e amigos. (Embora nao tantos quanto desejavamos!!)

O Itenerario:

Feb. 15-16: London
Feb. 17 to 15 March : India
Mar. 16-25 : Bhutan
Mar. 25-31: Nepal
April 01-07: India
Apr 08-18 : Myanmar
April 18 to 18 May: Philippines
May 19---THE BIG DAY!!
May 20 to 20 June: Philippines
Jun 20-30: Thailand
July 01-09: Laos
July 10-16: Cambodia
July 17-19: Singapore
July 20-23: Malaysia
July 24 to 15 August: Portugal
August 16... USA

Fotos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/crystalandsergio/
Aguardamos noticias vossas!! Beijos e abraços....