Friday, Mar. 13, 9:49 PM
Bhaktivedanta Eco-Village, Karnataka, India
What is it about Friday nights that it finally creeps up on me and bites me – I haven’t written a blog in… a week! And so it goes. This week I’ve actually been quite stingy with my computer time, as I’m on a farm with only enough current for our solar-powered lights… so no charging. I’ve got about 2 hours left on my laptop and hopefully a few more in my camera and iPod. So I won’t waste time.
Of course there are millions of things I’d like to write about the last week (and our hilarious 2 night couchsurf with our rich Brahmin friend in nearby Manipal/Udupi), but tonight as I lay in bed, trying to catch some Zs before another stupendous day on the farm tomorrow – I just had to get up to write about today. It was a Magical day. First, a bit of background: We’re in the hills a couple hours inland from the coast, on another Wwoof farm that is also a Hare Krishna temple, orphanage, village school, wildlife preservation and nature conservatory, Ayurvedic nursery, alternative energy, cow-protection, yoga camp. In short, it’s bliss.
I’ve never spent much time with Hare Krishnas, but from what I an tell from this bunch they’re a good bunch. They practice and pray constantly, which is why they built this amazing, beautiful and huge temple, which isn’t just a place of worship but where life happens, from school, eating, celebration, hanging out. In the last week I’ve tended the garden (weeding), worked on the irrigation system and fixing/building dams, hiked through the jungle to swim in waterfalls, and participated in a holiday celebration honoring their lord and also coinciding with the Hindu holiday Holi as well as the full moon. That day (Wednesday the 11th) was actually a blast: We took a break from our gardening to hear a talk about the holiday they were celebrating (and decorating the temple for 24 hours before and throughout the day for the evening’s celebration) by a man Tattba who is a founder of the village and just returned from a year (5 months of which was spent in jail – he was framed) in Cambodia; we attended the ceremony which had a LOT of chanting (like 4 hours), I was invited to meet the deity and when Amy and fellow girl-wwoofer Inga came back to the chant donning beautiful Saris, bindis and jewelry, they found me without shirt pouring substances over 2 golden statues from a conch shell. Many people from nearby villages showed-up for the feast and 3 hours of ‘drama’ performances by all the school children. Wild day… even though we went to bed after midnight we were charged-up with energy. It’s quite a vibrant community, and it gets better every day. In case you’re wondering or concerned about my running off and joining the Hare Krishnas, it’s not like that, but I did enjoy being invited to participate on that very important day, as it’s helped me to better understand the people we’re working with, killing that initial dynamic of us and them, not to mention that now I recognize just about everybody who’s living, working, and being schooled here.
Today was our day off – we work 6 days for 5 hours, which we typically do from 7-10am, break all afternoon (during the hot part, just like when biking), then work again 3-5pm. Meals are good and plenty at 10am and 5pm every day, except today, which totally broke the mold. (Yes! I just finally shoo’d the gecko out of my room!) Today we were to meet at 8am to hike down to a waterfall, but ended up having a snack before we took off, and also packing some lunch to go (which is no easy feat in a land without tupperware – banana leaves filled with rice wrapped in newspaper, wrapped in thread, and we took turns carrying a metal serving bowl with a handle for the 2-hour down, 3 hours-up hike! :) So we left at 9:45. It was so fun… 10 of us (5 Wwoofers and 5 of the younger ‘staff’) took off into the jungle, down down down , until we got to the top of the 250 foot fall to look down and better appreciate the rest of the hike down to to the bottom, swinging on vines and jumping off 25 and 30 foot ledges into the bottomless emerald pool at the bottom. Tat Ba’s son brought an inflatable dolphin for the benefit of his wife and the other young girl who aren’t such good swimmers, and we all helped out in ferrying them (pushing the hilarious dolphin) to the falls on the far side of the pool. We picnicked down there for hours, boulder jumped, launched ourselves from the cliffs. It was perfect. We found a huge snake skeleton skin, and Jamey spotted a fight between a big crab and a live snake (the 3-foot snake was completely wrapped around the crab, but they ended up in a draw, receding to opposite sides of the puddle we found them.) Upon returning home at 6pm (8 hours later, which seemed like 1/2 that since it flew by so fast) we ate and I had the pleasure of watching a small drama unfold with a perfect and unbelievably happy ending…
This farm doesn’t do animals, except for a few cows for milking, two pretty white bulls who do some of the heavy plowing (and who have the most amazing horns which look like the pope’s hat), and two of the cutest doe-eyed calves which I get to see and pet every time I walk to my room on the far end of the village. They are SO idyllic and just melt my freaking heart every time. Anyway, there are two more animals (save for the wild cock and the 3 ducks): a goat and a white speckled deer, both of which some of the village kids found and adopted, as they were tiny and without mothers. These two (the doe and goat) share a pen as well as a tight kinship, as you will see. When we got back from the hike we found the goat tied up next to the kitchen (not his usual spot, in the back in his shared pen), crying loudly. Krishna Maii explained that his best friend (the doe) had been out grazing and never came back. (She does this sometimes, but always returns, if not for 2 days. The goat’s not allowed to go out grazing, and he’d eat everything in sight so they bring the food to him.) So she takes the goat out into the field behind the temple by the rope, and the goat’s having a total tizzy. Soon we see the deer jump out from somewhere nearby, and Krishna Maii and the goat keep calling her, until the deer bounds over to them and they all run back around the temple to their pen where they settle down happily (and quietly) for the rest of the night. I’ve never seen anything like it. Then Krishna Maii gave the goat some branches to eat and brought a white flower form off the tree to feed the doe. Happy ending!
Just after this episode we watched the most fantastic sunset from the temple roof – three distinct sunsets were happening, as today was fantastically cloudy (a rarity for us so-far in India but apparently common in these hills): on one side an endless lightning storm was illuminating huge nimbus clouds which all looked like something (I especially enjoyed the strobing lion head), in the middle just pink, orange, and purple gorgeousness above and around the sun, and on the right above the mountains apocalyptic rain clouds had the same beautiful colors, only in silver lining around the swirly grey and blackness. Soon it was dark and Amy and I walk back to our rooms and the stars are just popping out a clearing in the sky, twinkling with all their might. Then I chased the gecko around my room, gave up on him, and fell asleep in the candlelight next to Amy as we reminisced on the day… till I got up to go to my own room (as we do here in respect of our gracious host’s rules) and type this before bed.
Tomorrow, more dam construction and who knows what else! Yes… exactly 8 hours until ‘work’… I’m getting better at this new schedule! And the best part is I’m actually excited for work, as it’s completely awesome when you’re enjoying it. Hare Krishna!