We've arrived in the India we imagined. Big city, non-crowded, great architecture, less poverty, and shopping malls.
Thank you to whatever God you have all been praying to on our behalfs. Miche and I are profound with gratitude.
The getting here, though, wasn't without its side-effects. Paint a picture if you will...
We effortlessly get on the first bus this morning, leaving Agra, immediately meet some real chummy gringos (as Mike would say), and have a nice, tolerabe ride. We enjoy the sites of our travel-between city called Fata-fata-fata-something-or-another, and have a nice Indian lunch on a rooftop restaurant.
Then we tried to catch the second bus from the Fata-fata-something bus baazar, (where 'bus baazar' actually means 'stand on the side of a busy road and try to catch the first bus that comes along'). Gulp. So, four gringos with eight packs are standing there, on the side of the road, hoping that what we are doing is correct. Consider, as well, that at anytime, we are trusting fate to put us on the right bus at the right time going to the right destination, as nobody actually speaks enough English to tell us, nor are there signs or civilization to tell us where to go. For about 20 minutes of panic, we stood there, hoping we were in the right place, letting bus after bus pass us for reason of being too full.
Finally, when we were ready to get in a cab and admit defeat, a bus came plowing down the highway. My words to Mike were, 'Here comes a bus! At a million miles per hour...'. The bus in mention halted to a stop in front of us and gladly picked us up with barely room to spare.
From that moment on, though, the day got better and better. The bus ride was actually truly enjoyable. All 5 hours of it. The drivers are MANIACS, driving on any side of the road they wish (again, why bother with lanes, right?), and have no problem trying to get us there as quickly as possible (which we actually appreciated). Greg and I had the luxury of sitting in the front 'cab' of the bus where the drivers sat, and had a good time.
The highlight of the day: Arriving in Jaipur and seeing sensibilty and civility, and rocking up to the nicest hotel any of us have possibly stayed in. The floors are clean, the service impeccable, and the food amazing (or so I hear - I haven't tried it yet, as you will read below). There is even a pool and a small lawn for soccer, an in-house library, and (yay!) hot water. We feel very, very lucky.
The low point of the day (read with caution): The bathroom break during our bus ride. A squat box, as usual, minus the hole in the ground. Just a tile floor and two bricks for your feet. Needless to say, three hours later, I still do not have an appetite.