Tuesday, June 19, 2012

India At Last

Man oh man, what a week (or two weeks, or actually closer to MONTH) we've had! A little history:

I was looking for an internship just because (I didn't need it for school, I just wanted to do it), and I love travelling, so I decided I wanted to do an international internship. Around March, Skylar and I were accepted to go to India with Help-International, and at the last minute I decided not to make it an internship (due to so much paperwork I just didn't feel like doing), but just to go as a volunteer.

In order to get ready for this adventure over the last few months, we needed to do the following:

-I needed to finish classes and apply for graduation (and all that goes with it)
-Skylar needed to make preparations and hire the right people so his company could continue without him there for two months
-We needed to do all the paperwork and legal stuff involved in living in another country for a couple months
-We needed to pack our apartment
-We needed to MOVE all our stuff to 4 different locations for various reasons
-Tons of other things that I'm forgetting right now because I've gotten a total of about 10 hours of sleep in the last 5 days

And now a run down of what we've encountered over the last week:

Wednesday (June 13): Took finals, completed research project, finished packing apartment, laundry, packed for India.

Thursday (June 14): Got to the airport by 6:30 and found out our long flight from DC to Dubai had been cancelled. Spent the next 3 hours at the desk with two United Airlines employees trying to find another flight/route for us to get to Hyderabad, but everything was booked or a week out. Finally found a long way to get there (SLC to Chicago to Jersey to Delhi, over night in Delhi then onto Hyderabad). We were told our flight to Delhi would get in at 8:30 pm on June 16 and our flight from Delhi to Hyd would leave the next morning at 6:30 am so we’d need to get a hotel.

Friday (June 15): Airport by 7:30 and successfully made it to Chicago. Got on the next plane in Chicago and as we pulled back from the terminal, the auxiliary motor broke. The air stopped working and we were stuck on a very hot, completely full plane on the tar mat for an hour, which meant our flight was delayed an hour. We finally got in the air and touched down in Newark, New Jersey literally 10 minutes before our flight from Newark to Delhi was supposed to leave. We got off the plane as fast as possible and BOLTED across the airport to our next gate. We got to the gate at exactly 8:30 (when the plane should have been taking off) only to find that that flight had been delayed an hour. SO WE MADE IT!!! We got on the plane to Delhi and though our seats were on opposite sides of the plane, a very nice guy agreed to switch seats with me under the pretense that I was deathly afraid of flying over the ocean (especially on a 14 hour flight) and needed to be by my husband.

Saturday (June 16): The flight was very long, but thankfully uneventful (other than the fact that my feet and legs swelled up HUGE and are still swollen as I write this 3 days later). We landed an hour late in New Delhi and were worried that the cab driver we hired to pick us up and take us to our hotel would be gone already. Our suspicions were right…or so we thought. We were told in Salt Lake that we wouldn’t need to get our checked bags, but rather the airport would automatically transfer them to the plane we’d be taking the next morning to Hyd, however I overheard another woman being told to get her bags. We followed suit and got ours. We headed through immigration and customs and made it out to the exit of the airport and couldn’t find our cab driver anywhere. We called the hotel and they told us he was waiting for us at gate 5. We looked again, but couldn’t find him so we opted to take a regular cab from the airport to our hotel instead. When we got there, however, the hotel was horribly upset that we had taken a regular cab because that meant we had left their driver at the airport. They were very unhappy with us the rest of the time we were there (a whopping 4 hours before we had to leave for the airport again). We tried explaining that we searched, but no one was there holding a sign with our name on it. We believe the hotel actually got us mixed up with another couple and that was the name their driver was holding because they thought we were someone else when we tried checking in. We finally got in and got to our room (which had some interesting quirks), and realized we didn’t have any way of waking up in 2 hours to get back to the airport. Reluctantly, we called the front desk and they agreed to a wake up call.

Mmmm juicy.

No beef in most of india. Not even at McDonald's in the airport in Delhi. But doesn't a chicken big mac sound appealing?

FINALLY on the plane to Hyderabad, India!

Sunday (June 17): We got up at 3:30 and had all of 5 minutes to get ready before the front desk was hounding us to get down to our cab (even though we reserved it to pick us up at 4:00). We got to the airport and tried walking in to get our new boarding passes (United Airlines had to pay the extra $1,200 for our new route since it was their fault our flight was changed. They issued us a receipt for a new boarding pass to get in Delhi), but the MILITARY guard at the door sent us down to another area to get the tickets. Once at the new desk, we were informed that the tickets purchased by United were actually for the flight the night before which was scheduled to take off before our plane from Newark even landed! We were given incorrect information from United about the flight AND about our bags! If we had left our checked bags and gone on to the hotel, they would have been lost because there was no way they could have been transferred to Hyderabad on the flight we were scheduled for that night (quite the blessing that we figure out we were supposed to pick them up). So where United dropped the ball repeatedly, Air India (the airline taking us from Delhi to Hyderabad) saved the day. They issued us new tickets for the very next flight, no questions asked! We got on the 6:30 am flight, and safely made it to Hyd where Brooke (our country director) was waiting for us.

FINALLY in Hyderabad - looking rough.

So there’s our past week’s journey in getting India. It was quite the adventure!

Since we got in on Sunday, we’ve: eaten AMAZING, DELICIOUS, INCREDIBLE food everyday; had a very long training meeting; become acquainted with our neighborhood; and met with a couple of partner non-profits we’ll be working with this summer.

Our neighborhood.

Don't worry, it's just deity coming through.

There are some pretty awesome projects we’re looking into working on including (these are all possibilities at this point – nothing is set in stone): building an elementary school in the slums, creating a water filter/sanitation system in the slums, teaching health classes, planting tree farms, planting square foot gardens, working with an organization who specializes in TB, malaria, HIV/AIDS, and leprosy doing data analysis and a video to show the process of leprosy treatment from start to finish, and so much more.
When we have more time, I’ll be posting more pictures of our adventures. Stay tuned!

1 comment:

  1. this is so legit and such an awesome opportunity you guys have, especially to be able to do it together! i'm glad you guys made it there safely and with all your luggage and look forward to reading more!