The road trip to Pondicherry…Life for locals in India…

We stopped to see the Shore Temple located on the Bay of Bengal in Mahabalipuram.

The two-hour road trip from Mahabalipuram was enjoyable, with villages cropping up one after another. I explained to Raj that in the US, we might not encounter towns as frequently as is the case in India on such a two-hour road trip in many parts of the country.

The drive between villages may be as little as every five or ten minutes on the road. After all, with 1.3 billion people, it’s not surprising these villages are so close to one another.

A welcome sign to Pondicherry, also known as Puducherry, where a French colony exists today.

India has a population density of 171.9 people per square mile. In comparison, the United States population density is 13.5 people per square mile. This fact is undoubtedly evident everywhere we’ve traveled in the country thus far and most likely will be the case as we continue over the next three weeks.

Women were harvesting peanuts, which are popular for snacking in India and preparing specific dishes.

Here we are whining about some inconveniences in a few hotels along the way, but when we put it into perspective, who are we to complain about hotels failing to meet our standards when so many live so modestly in this country without complaint?

However, it’s all relative to our own lives, and regardless of how much compassion we may feel for others, our standards seem to prevail. Last night, in this moderate corporate-type hotel in Pondicherry, I was bitten by dust mites, leaving me with about 20 annoying itchy spots on my left side, the side I sleep. Much to our surprise, there wasn’t even a mattress pad on the bed.
Harvested fields of sea salt.

This was the first time this happened to me in India, and it hadn’t happened since we stayed at a hotel in Minnesota in 2017 while visiting family and, again, at the holiday home in South Africa in 2018. (Louise and Danie immediately replaced the mattress entirely, which provided me with complete relief).

The town of Mahabalipuram is lined with shops with supplies for locals and also an endless array of tourist trinkets.

I should mention that all used mattresses have dust mites, and most people aren’t affected by their presence. However, a particular faction is allergic to bites that become red and inflamed, precisely my issue.

Everywhere we travel in India, we see Indian tourists. The Indian people take great pride in their country, and those who can afford to travel do so with enthusiasm.

The food at this hotel is mediocre at best, although the staff is always kind and eager to please. The hotel is located in the center of town, leaving us with little opportunity to get out and walk on our own amid the traffic and congestion on the roads. 

Oddly, for the first time, today we had to pay for a bucket of ice, 100 rupees plus tax, not a lot, but the first time we’d ever paid for a bucket of ice, anywhere in the world.
Many of our guides earn commissions if we buy stuff, and thus they “push” us to go to the tourist shopping areas. We’ve attempted to explain we don’t have a home and won’t carry trinkets in our already overweight luggage.

Alas, we’ll be on the move again tomorrow morning with a 5½ road trip ahead of us. We’re looking forward to a two-night stay in the next village at yet another Ideal Resort, which we thoroughly enjoyed in Mahabalipuram. 

In the heat of the day, we admire these hard-working people attempting to earn a few rupees each day. 

Raj is a good driver, speaks good English, and is very helpful. We’re grateful to have him along during this lengthy portion of our journey. The SUV is spotlessly clean, has WiFi (as mentioned), good air-con, and is comfortable. Raj always has fresh water bottles, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and tissues available for our use.

Even young people work to help provide for the family. Surprisingly, even in many poor areas, the locals have cell phones. We suspect this young person is looking at his phone in this photo.

Today, we are touring Pondicherry and will have photos and stories to share in tomorrow’s post. Many temples don’t allow interior photos, especially those that are still in use. We respect this restriction and don’t attempt to “sneak” a photo as we’ve observed some tourists doing.

Raj, our driver, explained that very few pre-teens and teens get into trouble in the villages. High moral expectations are taught in every home as part of Hindu philosophy.
In any case, we are enjoying ourselves. We’ve been away from hot climates for so long. It’s taking a little time to adapt to the heat and humidity. Plus, to be respectful, we’re wearing long pants and full coverage shirts based on our limited wardrobes. It’s often too warm now that we’re in the southern part of India.

Thank you for continuing to stop by! We appreciate every one of YOU!

Photo from one year ago today, March 11, 2019:

The baby mongooses are not quite sure about the raw scrambled eggs Tom places in the bowl. For more photos, please click here.

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