Friday, December 31, 2010

Our India Adventure Begins!!!

As we enter terminal 5 at o'hare airport.... all the kiosks are empty.... except for one airline which has a looooooooooooong twisting line of people. As we near closer, the colors pop from saris hidden under winter jackets, beards are in full effect, and a unique smell starts to envelop us. We approach the line, hear an announcement... "The flight has been delayed for 4 hours." I turn to look at a little old woman who grins with big glasses and yellowing teeth as she says, "WELCOME TO INDIA!!!!"

and our adventure begins.

After finishing 2 years teaching english in the JET program in Sapporo, Japan... I decided to head off to India where I will study yoga and meditation for 3 months in Rishikesh with my friend Stephanie. After that, there is no set plan. I hope to travel, find a volunteer opportunity or two, hike the himalayans in Nepal, and see what other opportunities pop up.

Before even touching down, I have already started to fall in love with India. As we were in line for tickets, we started chatting with a family of 8 cute roly poly elderly Indians. Within a few minutes they invited us to attend the week-long wedding they were going to. I realllllllllllly wanted to jump on that opportunity, but we are meeting our yoga teachers from Japan in Rishikesh on New Years Eve. shucks!!!!!!!!!! (later, while waiting for the toilet on the plane, another mother invites me to her sister's daughter's wedding)

Indians, like Japanese, are very friendly. The difference is that Japanese are timid and shy to approach you at times. This is NOT the case with the Indians we have met so far. As we sat waiting for our flight, two Air India workers approached us, chatted us up, gave us tips for traveling in India, offered to help us find volunteer opportunities through their relatives in India, and even told us to go stay with their uncle. hahahha... One of them even found me on facebook... they sure work fast and are NOT shy!!!

One big difference between Japan and India is the food. We were given "tasty peanuts" and some orange juice after taking off.... and the spice hit me full throttle. I was hiccuping out of control!!! The choice for dinner was vegetarian or spicy chicken. I opted for vegetarian which was deeeelish but had a huge kick to it. After eating Japanese rice, sushi, sashimi, okonomiyaki, soba, etc for two years, my spice tolerance has decreased dramatically. I need to re-train my tongue!

The 14 hour flight from Chicago to Delhi flew by... especially since we had our own TVs with unlimited bollywood music videos and films. I can't wait to learn how to shake it like the bollywood stars!!!

We got our first bollywood lesson from the cab driver who blasted his music and shook his stuff as he weaved in and out of cars, tuk tuks, people, and even a cow or two.

Off to bed...... tomorrow we are off to Rishikesh!!!!!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Ikuya's first Halloween

He decided to go as the all-American Superman...

I decided to go as the all-Japanese Hello Kitty...

We then headed downtown Chicago for the Halsted Little Street of Horrors parade































Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wisconsin Dells

My family has been going to Wisconsin Dells and Devil's Lake every fall since I was born. It is the perfect combination of American cheesy touristy fun and the great outdoors.

Ikuya arrived in America for his very first time in October, so guess where we took him first!??!?!

We hiked, went to my favorite apple orchard Sky-Hi, went on wooden coasters, 5 story go-kart courses, got soaked at the water parks, had a skee-ball championship and more!

















































Friday, October 8, 2010

Nashville and St. Louis

Peace Corps reunions in Nashville and St. Louis
















After finishing the Vipassana course, I hopped on a plane down to Nashville to go see my Peace Corps Kenya buddies Kim and Maria.



















After a day playing around in Nashville, we headed out to the Ponderosa. How do I even describe the Ponderosa??? It's magical. A friend from Kenya and the "old man" bought a run down old barn in the middle of nowhere Tennessee, and are converting it into a farm house. I was lucky enough to go out there, help around the house, and have some good ole hillbilly fun. I even taught the old man how to do a headstand.




Here is just one example of how cool the old man is. He leaves the price tag on everything he buys from garage sales. I love him.





















Another weekend, we drove down to see other Peace Corps Kenya buddies, Sheila and Ann, in St. Louis.

















After heading out to see the arch, we had a bite of pizza, danced at karaoke, then ended the night with a Kenyan dancing pow wow back at Sheila's.

Sheila also took us to the City Museum in St. Louis which is one of my new all time favorite places!!!! It's a huge pile of recycled junk strung, twisted, and tied up a 10 story warehouse. You run wild through all the twists, turns, tunnels, cages, planes, buses, ferris wheels, and mole holes.























































Before driving back home, we had one last day on Sheila's family's farm... We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows over the bonfire, played on the tractors, then went on a hay ride at night! Good ole American fun!!!! ;-)



Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hawaii cruisin!


My Mom and I went on a cruise to Hawaii at the end of September for 2 weeks. With the economy down, cruising has become dirt cheap!

We flew to Honolulu, and then cruised around to Kauai, Kona, Hilo, and Maui. We then had an amazing 5 days of pure relaxation as we sailed to Mexico before heading back to Chicago. :-)