It's one of those experiences you can't describe in words but have to experience it yourself to get the complete ....well experience!!
I thought in SA the people can't drive but boy was I wrong! In the beginning I thought "ok this is fun", then it went to "ok that was a bit dangerous", to finally thinking"Am I gona make it out alive?" I was tired after my flight but it didn't take long for me to be wide awake and prayed every second that we weren't gona crash. I love always knowing where I am and I make landmarks in case I have to find my way back, but I lost track soon after we left the airport.
India is soo busy with things to see and cars, trucks, buses, scooters, bicycles, pedestrians and bull drawn carts all driving as they please! I don't think they have any road rules! They all use their horns an encourage people to use their horns! it actually says on the trucks and buses ..please horn! Look closely at the video! And horn they do, non stop! To overtake they play chicken with the on coming traffic!!
We finally stopped for food, but as I didn't have any rupees I just sat at a table that was pointed out to me and I gestured I'm ok! All of a sudden I couldn't see my driver! My mind started racing...I left my bags in the car! What if he drive off!? I did have my handbag with me but all my other stuff...gone?! Suddenly I couldn't even remember what he looked like?! I thought ok I'm in a strange country, alone, no one speaks english no Indian money, no working phone...what am I going to do? I tried to ask the waiter "where is my driver?", he smiled, nodded (side to side) and said " ok "!!??? I walked outside to check if the car is still there....it was! I waited a bit longer and thought ok don't panic, just relax I'm sure he is around somewhere! After about 25 min(which felt like hours) he appeared. Asked me in his broken English if I've eaten, I said no I have no rupees! He than gestured it's ok he will pay! I thought 'aw that's nice'! So I just got some take away
After the horrific 6 hr journey, we arrived in Rishikesh! Narrow streets, lots of people both travellers and locals, cows, monkeys and lots of rubbish! I 'checked in' at the AYM, their English was very good so I had a sigh of relief. They took me to a local shop where I could exchange money and bought an Indian SIM card. The taxi driver hung around, after a while they told me he is waiting for his money for the lunch he bought me. I had a slice of pizza and a small bottle of water that was 150 rupees, I gave him 200 rupees expecting change. He said thank you and left!! That bugger...! I very quickly learned my lesson. I was taken to my room in the ashram which I shared with two other females. Monica from Brazil and Emily from USA. We shared moments, experiences, ups and down over the next 4 weeks.
We started our teacher trainer course with a beautiful opening ceremony that lasted about 2 hrs. Then we had our first yoga class, Ashtanga vinyasa. Wow I have never done Ashtanga vinyasa before and it's, after my first class, not my favourite style. Our schedule for the next 4 weeks was basically 5am wake up, 5:30-6:30 meditation, 6:30-7:30 yoga philosophy 7:30-8:00 tea break, 8:00-9:30 Hatha yoga,9:30-10:30 breakfast, 10:30-12:00 mantra /yoga principles,12:00-15:30 lunch/free time, 15:30-16:30 pranayama, 17:00-18:30 asthanga vinyasa then dinner and free time.
We did some interesting shatkarma's which are types of cleansing's. The one involved sitting in a squatting posture while you are drinking salty/lemon luke warm water, do a couple of yoga postures until you basically start pooing clear water. You have to drink about 2-3 litres. You are not aloud to eat anything for a while and should take a few spoons full of ghee (clarified butter) Yuck! Not one of my favourites, as after the cleanse we made the mistake to go to a local cafe for some herbal tea and I got food poisoning!! I was sick for about 3 days, then I got a head cold and was sick for another 4 days. I wasn't the only one that got ill after the cleanse, so I decided I will rather just stay "dirty" from now on. But seriously it is suppose to be really good for your digestive system. Cleansing and purifying.
We were free on Sundays so explored the local markets and shops. We were also lucky to be there while they celebrate their holi festival. Didn't realise this when I booked the course, so it was a special bonus! It was so much fun, you buy bags of power paint from the shops and throw each other with it. After a while water also gets used, so you look like a soaking wet parrot. Then we rinsed ourselves in the Ganga river. This river is sacred for the locals, but they wash themselves, their clothes and their dishes in it?! Don't know how sacred it is anymore after all that dirt! The month flew past and before we knew it we were qualified yoga teachers!! It was a unforgettable experience. I met some wonderful people and have some incredible memories to take with me.
Me and Emily got a taxi ride back together to the airport when the course finished. We had to catch our taxi on the opposite side of the walk bridge at 3 am! I'm so glad we did it together, as the drive back at night was just an nerve wrecking as the drive there. And we got a flat tire so had to stop on the side of the road in the dark for our driver to change tires. He was a bit arrogant and wanted a tip from us?! We said we don't have any rupees left, which was almost the truth! I had some rupees but wanted to buy food at the airport. And we already paid $80 for the taxi. When he dropped us off we gathered all the change we have, which came to about 35 rupees. But he basically threw it back at us, took our luggage out, probably cursed us and then drove off. After checking in we went straight to the food court and I really felt like some McDonald's and I don't even like macky d's. I only had 75 rupees and a meal was 85 rupees but I HAD TO HAVE THE MEAL. So what did I do? I looked around saw two guys that look like business men, went over there and asked if they have any spare change because I'm just 10 rupees short of buying some food. The one guy without any hesitation reached for his wallet and gave me 10 rupees, voila! And it was the best McDonald's I ever had!
Next stop Thailand.