Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Beauty of Ooty

This past weekend we took a trip up the mountains to the hill station of Ooty! With its rolling hills covered in tea plants and cool mountain breeze, Ooty offers a beautiful respite from the heat of Coimbatore.
Shaina, Chrissie, Kelly, and Amber enjoy the beauty of Ooty
Right from the start, we knew this trip would be an adventure when just 1 hour into the trip we blew a tire. No big deal, just a chance to get some cold drinks and snacks at a local shop before pressing on. Just as we started heading up the mountains on the switch-backs, another tire popped! While the driver headed back down the mountain to get another tire, we took advantage of the time to have a nice picnic lunch…until a curious monkey showed up. We learned a very important lesson that day: never feed a monkey, because they will always want to come back for more and may bring their friends! We spent the next hour on high alert for monkeys with piles of rocks lined up to keep them at bay!
Lydia tryingto read by the side of the road with a pile of rocks ready for battle against the monkeys
Our local trips serve a variety of purposes: one of the main things is to expose students to different opportunities to work abroad and to learn about what is being done in India. We had the opportunity to visit Freedom Firm which is a branch off of International Justice Mission (IJM) that aims to Rescue, Restore, and bring Justice for women who are trapped in the sex trade. We met some of the young women and saw their beautiful handicrafts-from earrings to necklaces to bracelets. Another day we learned about Sister’s International that works to grow confident young women that will be the leaders of tomorrow. We also visited Hebron- a world famous international school, a tea factory where we learned how tea is processed, and a traditional Toda village to see how they live.

Enjoying a fresh cup of chai at the tea factory
Another highlight was our camping trip to Avalanche which is located deep in the forest right on the edge of a lake. After an hour hike into camp, we were rewarded with a spectacular view and the peace and beauty of nature all around us. During the day we had the chance to repel (for some it was their first time-how cool to say your first time repelling was in India?!) go kayaking, and just rest and relax in hammocks. In the evening we enjoyed a campfire and a night hike to see the brilliant stars before snuggling under piles of blankets in our tents.
Hiking out of camp: spotted a tiger track in the dust!
Chrissie, Lydia, and Shaina get ready to repel down the side of a waterfall
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