Blog from Grace. Photos from Jon & Anya

Finishing our week at SECMOL was bittersweet. The school itself was so interesting how it taught students from various villages not only school, but how to sustainably live off the land in an eco-friendly way.

The cultural exchange between the students our age was fascinating to experience. During conversation class, which was a 15 minute talk between a student and volunteer, about a random topic, we got to interact with the students first hand, helping with their English. My favorite topic was on dating and marriage. Learning the differences between cultures was unforgettable. I ended my time at SECMOL with a sunrise hike with two other American volunteers and Sergio. It was pretty exhausting being that it was 12,500ft, but worth it.

The last day, Carpe Diem students took the conversation classes to Leh for lunch. I unfortunately had to stay behind due to a stomach virus being passed around. The next day we left and headed back to our hotel in Leh where we prepared for our five day trek!

We all woke up and had breakfast together at Chow’s Guesthouse. A bus then picked us up to start off our adventure. The company running the trek was inspiring, it was created by a cheerful woman named Tinlis. She created the company because the trekking business was dominated by men and no one would hire her as a guide. It is always empowering to see women, especially in places such as India, persevere.

The first day of the trek was definitely not what I hoped for, or expected, at all. Within the first hour I had to go to the bathroom and quickly realized I was catching the stomach bug that was going around. I had to go behind a rock every 20 minutes with the group waiting for me. The best part was that I was wiping with rocks! Finally after the 5th time, my frail body couldn’t finish the second half of the trek. Luckily, as soon as I gave up, there was a nearby village that allowed me to use their bathroom, where I gloriously found wipes in my bag. I got to lay down and drink mint tea with Anya and a little baby with rosy cheeks and a hat on. I was again fortunate enough to have a car bring me to the village the group was trekking to for the night. At the village, I drank endless amounts of mint tea and rice soup. I also got a warm cozy bed, so I really can’t complain. Other than that memorable day and the stomach virus going around to everyone in the group except Matt and Jon, the trek was unreal! The mountains are nowhere near comparable to my pictures. It looked like we were hiking on another planet. (Side note: everyone is on the mend now and no more stomach complaints!)

Although our group fluctuated in size each day due to the sickness, we all pushed ourselves and accomplished many heights. Each night we stayed in a different village where the tough ladies never stopped cooking and caring for us.

The last day we took a long bus ride back into Leh, weaving between the gigantic mountains. Today we are waiting to board our flight out of Ladakh to Delhi, then on to Kolkata to start our volunteer work at the Mother Teresa House.

2016-11-01-photo-00000071

2016-11-01-photo-00000072

2016-11-01-photo-00000073

2016-11-01-photo-00000074

2016-11-01-photo-00000076

2016-11-01-photo-00000077

2016-11-01-photo-00000078

2016-11-01-photo-00000079

2016-11-01-photo-00000080

2016-11-01-photo-00000081