01 December 2011

Northeast India Trip - Garo Hills

Charleston Daily Photo will be on field trip status for a little longer as I share some of the photos from my trip to India. My brother Jim lives there still and was our escort and travel guide. What a relief! He drove the insane road system in his rugged Mahindra jeep and coordinated hotels and meals which made it so much easier than it could have been. The north east is not exactly on the regular tourist route.

My daughter and I flew to Delhi (14 hour flight), and then on to Gawahati. Jim, Val and my three adorable nephews met us and rushed us directly to the Garo Hills to the Wangala Hundred Drum Festival.

We left the plains heading into the lush hills and I was delighted to learn I had landed in India during orange season. The best oranges in the world grow here. I was determined to eat one every day and I did, except for breaks to enjoy local pineapples, kiwi, bananas and coconuts. Jim had friends who had coordinated guest rooms for us over a baby care nursery and there was an immersion heater in a large bucket of water waiting for well needed warm baths.

The next morning we explored the local market, drove, parked the jeep and joined a mass of people walking to the drum festival. Tribes in colorful costumes competed with each other in drumming and dance ending up with all of them on the field together making an awesome thunderous noise. I walked the field with my camera and soon discovered that each group had it's own container of rice wine and were eager to fill the communal gourd in exchange for a look at their picture in the back of my camera.I got slightly tipsy and had my fix of colorful costumes with willing models all in one fell swoop.

I traveled with two great assets - a beautiful daughter and cute nephews. Everywhere we went people wanted to be in pictures with them. Here was my daughter's photo fan club in Tura.

The next day we went on a walk looking for Gibbon monkeys. We didn't find any although we tried to with our best Gibbon noises. We did however encounter another form of wildlife - leeches! One sucker made it all the way up my pants to the skin above my knee and made me want to get back to my room for a full body check. The Garo village was clean and charming. They typically build lookout cottages high in the trees and made mini structures on stilts to protect their grain in the same way.

Slept like a baby last night. Woke up once disoriented and couldn't figure out where I was. I grinned in my bed with the awareness that I was back in the land of porcelain flush toilets. I hope everyone has been well and had a good Thanksgiving while I was away. Thanks for all the kind messages! I've been out of touch - no computer, no newspapers and only Hindi television. It was a real escape. I'll follow up with the rest of the trip in sections  but right now I need to walk down and sniff my ocean.

More photos from this section can be found in this album: Garo Hills.