Back from the War, full of Love and Peace

Monday, June. 15, 1:20 AM
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

About a month ago, Amy and I cycled into the sunset without a plan. As I’d learn very well in the coming month, you can’t plan too far ahead with her. Within three days we changed the itinerary three times, and ended-up hopping on a plane to Sri Lanka, a mere hour’s flight from Chennai, to spend a month on a whirlwind tour. Ahhh, Sri Lanka. Tropical, unbelievably pleasant, war-torn, thoroughly gorgeous, with easily accessible mountains (so mild and cool!), turquoise beaches where relaxation is unavoidable and the surf is unbeatable. In short, it was a detour to Paradise. And on our third night there, just in time to witness history in the making, the War, which has been going-on for over 30-years, Ended. While I’m sure you all were watching it on television, we got to see the dancing in the streets, celebratory fireworks, and all-night Arak-fueled celebrations going on for weeks. Epic.

1st picture I took in Colombo.
1st picture I took in Colombo. The first of many... I promise!

In the hills of Ella, Sri Lanka.
In the hills of Ella, Sri Lanka.

(I DID keep a light journal, on PAPER!, leaving the laptop behind so we could travel light and enjoy an ultra-light bike tour… Much more, hopefully, about the Beautiful and Lovely Sri Lanka, will be written here in coming weeks.) I also DID manage to completely fill-up my 4GB camera memory card. Much photo-processing and sharing to be done!

I missed you this month. I felt terrible, leaving you hanging like that for five weeks! Lord knows I was dying to update the Blog so many times, but I really never had the facilities to do so. It was a long month of only sporadically using PCs to do rudimentary communications, feeling dirty, frustrated with windows Vista and crappy keyboards. Feels good to be back on my little Mac. So happy! Wild horses couldn’t drag me away from you again.

We actually booked a round-trip flight from Chennai to Sri Lanka and back again, so we could retrieve the other half of our belongings and book a cheaper connecting flight to somewhere via Southern India’s largest International air hub. We’ve spent the last few days back here in India, and tonight we were supposed to leave on a midnight red-eye to Bangkok, Thailand. But as usual, our onward course was again altered… we were rejected at the airport, not having the proper documents to suit Immigration. (I was certain we could get a Visa on arrival!) Fortunately, we can take care of this tomorrow and catch the next flight without any penalty from the airline. (Thanks, Thai Airways!)

A little more Sri Lanka goodness... this is Aragumbe, the surfers paradise.
A little more Sri Lanka goodness... this is Arugumbay, the surfers paradise, where we spent a week relaxing and drinking milkshakes in front of our beachfront hut.

and now …

THE PLAN

The Plan from here on out is a little crazy, but it may involve me taking a little detour to Black Rock City for a week in September to attend the Burning Man festival! Crazy as it sounds, it might just make sense in the greater scheme of things. (As you can see, we’re playing things by ear.)

If we get a two or three month visa for Thailand tomorrow, we could be spending a bulk of it farming, teaching organic agriculture to children, putting together solar systems or building rock climbing walls on Wwoof farms in Thailand’s northern hills… Monsoon and time permitting, we might hit-up a famously notorious Full Moon party in the south. If we only get a 30-day Visa, we could perhaps even venture off into neighboring Laos, and re-enter for another 30-days… And if that’s not possible (we’ll need to secure a visa for Laos in advance too) we might find ourselves in Bali sooner than later!

I think the most solid part of the whole scheme is that we’ll end-up in New Zealand come September.  I want to Bike it, and Wwoof it, and Camp it, and Sheep it. I want it so bad. But it’s winter down there now, so that’s why we’re hopping around like bunnies in SE Asia and beyond for a few months, until the coldest weather in NZ has passed. Amy plans to get some work down there… and I plan to be working, too… my quads up and down those beautiful rolling hills, my hands in the soil on any of the 800+ Wwoof farms, and my finger on the camera shutter button. Hopefully we’ll make it work out somehow that we can do much of it together, enjoying life in a new place. NZ offers 1-year Tourist Work Visas so foreigners can work legally, and Australia has the same. And let’s not forget Tasmania, right there in the triangle of my daydreams. I’m coming for you, too! (Update 6/20: Amy wants to go instead to Australia next… the un-planning continues.)

I saw Jamey today. Not online, or in a hot 40 degree Chennai mirage, but he actually came up from Sadhana Forest with his Sadhana girlfriend (can I say that?) to pay us a quick visit before our onward journey. It’s only been a month, but it seems like so much longer since we’ve seen each other… our lives have both really progressed. It was so nice. I love the guy, and it made me so very happy to see him enjoying life, positive, handsome with his new mohawk, working hard and having fun, taking on a lot of responsibility in the forest and loving it. He will ride out his Indian visa until October, and then he too will head somewhere and find Work, maybe NZ or Japan if it’s lined-up… It’s that time. Everybody’s doing it!!!

When Jamey looked at me incredulously this afternoon and said, “You’re really leaving India!?”, I didn’t really feel like I was. Despite wanting (really bad at times) to move-on, I also feel so at Home here now. It’s been five and a half months since I first arrived! I really can’t believe it. And then tonight, on the way to the airport in the rickshaw, it sunk-in. I would miss this place. How people, everyone, are SO NICE. For real. I’ve heard some crazy things too (like stories of all the recent murders in Auroville, decapitations and hackings with farm tools), but really, I’m so deeply impressed with it all. I’ve never experienced so much generosity, genuine pride in doing one’s work, or commitment to good karma first-hand before. The paramount value that family and brethren have in everybody’s lives ensures that people are loved and cared for, and therefore very rich… not in money but in the most vital aspects of life. I’m moved on a daily basis by this, and even as a traveler I never feel alone. (It’s hard to ever feel alone in India, LOL, with these numbers), but there is always somebody there to help. Like it’s their duty, they will help and not quit on you. Complete strangers will make time for you. It’s a dedication that I can barely fathom. And these Couchsurfers – and the Sri Lankans are no exception – have taught me the most. Open, willing, generous hosts, and me, a complete stranger, made to feel like a long-time friend, every time! Each and every one of them, Astounding. How can I leave this? After discussing these things with Amy and our rickshaw was pulling into the airport, I told her that I might come crawling back…

love that Chennai craziness!
Gotta love that Chennai craziness!

Things look good from here. I’m back. I’m coming. I’m going. I’M RIGHT HERE. I’m on my path. Life is still way too much fun, and the light on the horizon is looking more peachy every morning. Compared to what I originally set out to do in six months – (Nepal > India > Thailand > Laos > Cambodia > Vietnam… ha!) – I haven’t done much. I’ve barely scratched the surface of that itinerary, but now I can say with confidence that a Plan doesn’t matter much. It’s a direction. An idea. An outline in pencil. It’s not about a destination, or what’s to be found at the end of the road. It’s the Means to a Life. And when things don’t go according to Plan, then Life is taking over.

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