Today we tried to relax, breakfast at our hotel with real coffee. We had some last minute shopping to do so we had to go into the depths of the old city by tuk-tuk, up a back stairway in an alley to get copper water containers for the table. That was a trip. We tried to connect with a women’s collective group that was recommended by Paolo Gianturco but it did not happen.
We ate a lunch of more exotic foods. (This was a textiles and food trip) we dropped Marion (our third textile person) off at the airport and back to the hotel. Tomorrow is our real travel day. Ahmedabad to Bombay, Bombay to Newark, Newark to S.F by late afternoon Monday.
The mouse was in our room all night. I saw him slip out under the door this morning. And we are off today to Ahmedabad to thankfully, a better hotel, for two nights before we start the trek home. We made a few stops along the way, at the Modhera Sun Temple, with fabulously Hindu pictorial stories carved all over. It was designed and built in 1029 AD. Onward, next stop Jalpa’s family temple them to the Adalaj Stepwell. This is a place built in 1499 by a Gujerat queen. It goes down 5 stories with a well at the bottom. The people used to come there for water. Story goes that she (the queen) threw herself in the well over the death of her husband.
Our bedraggled bunch landed at the quite elegant Novotel in the afternoon. It was great to have a a comfortable bed, hot shower, wash my hair and be out of the mud and dust.
We went to our farewell dinner, a lovely outdoor restaurant with a traditional Gujerati meal and lots of entertainment including a girl dancing on nails with pots on her head. Jalpa provided us with a great send off.
This morning was a ride in an open Safari type jeep into the countryside to see birds and what they call asses. They are a cross between a horse and a zebra, but brown and white.
There were beautiful flamingos, storks and spoonbills. It’s bird watchers paradise. There is
Lots of water from underground. The do locals make a living from the salt and from growing cumin and castor beans, also from herding cows and water buffalo.
Bonnie didn’t accompany us as she felt ill with a cold and took the wrong medication and it turned out she slept with a mouse in the spare blanket the staff gave her. She is better today.
We had an afternoon rest and then went to see some village craftspeople working in their homes. I wish I had brought pencils for the kids. That would have been a good thing. Next time. Bonnie Marion and Jalpa went on a late sunset camel cart ride. It was almost dark so I skipped it and took pictures instead. Tomorrow we leave here for Ahmedabad for a day, then Bombay and home.
After leaving our hotel in Bhuj at 8 am, we arrived at 2 at Dasada. Of interest along the highway: camel carts, nomad goat herders and lots of highly decorated trucks. We ended up at a resort that is a sanctuary for wild asses. No jokes please. The place here is calm and we all have small huts to stay in, a big outdoor dining area, a big seating area with lots of pillows. There is a tour group here to photograph birds and W.A.s. We are in an area of bird sanctuaries.
It’s a bit humid here compared to the dry area around Bhuj. It even rained a few drops. It reminds me more of Africa here than India.
The only horrible scenario was when I accidentally locked Bonnie in our room and went out to the dining area. Bonnie was a good sport and I felt really dumb. If you tried to think of things that could go wrong, that would be a new one for the books.
Tomorrow a safari into bird-land. No pics yet. I can’t get my blog to cooperate.
Quasab is a collective that sells for women in the Kutch area of Gujarat. They embroideries are different in each village group. Each one do unbelievably beautiful work. We visited their outlet today, learned all about their work be interested in and learned to do some embroidery from several village women who work at Quasab. Lunch at the hotel then off to the desert of Rann, almost to the Pakistan border. We had to go through a military checkpoint, show passports and pay 100 Rupees to go into the area. We stopped at a small village near the checkpoint looked at their wares and their B & B accomodations. The round mud houses are decorated with paint, the walls are plaster designs and amirrors.. I bought another quilt. Beautiful and a great bargain. My students will be interested. I plan to make a presentation of photos and examples to show my classes.
We made a quick trip to the Desert of Rann, a salt pan reaching all the way to the Pakistan border. It was stark and beautiful, the colors and shades, camels, horses and people playing like it was the beach.
after returning to the hotel we shipped our purchases home with a courier. The boxes should reach home in 10-15 days. Hopefully not long after we get back. There was a bit of a kerfuffle with the shipping, but it all got straightened out.
Tomorrow will be another travel day. Six hours to a bird sanctuary to see wild life. I hope this part of the trip will be a bit less scheduled and more relaxing.
Felting today. We checked out an opening of a show at Khmer, at a gallery in the country, an NGO, Non-Government Organization, in the area. It was a fancy affair with all the women in finest, artists speaking and networking, a grand opening of exhibitions of local Kutchi artwork. It was attended by the ” the Tax Collector” He had armed guards surrounding him. The whole party started late waiting for this person.
This area in Gujarat is called Kutch and it is where all the crafts come from. We ate lunch there.
We got a felting demo which took hours. We sat around today, waiting for a long time. Another collective called Shurjan was our next stop. We didn’t see anything but their store. They have handicrafts from all over and have a different type of embroidery on their things.
Health Report: My hearing has returned and today I thought I was going to have a Pine Mountain stomach experience but it cleared up. Everybody in the group is well.
On the way back to the hotel, there was a stop at the local market. Bonnie and I were so tired that we got our bus and went back to the hotel, leaving Marion and Jalpa to shop for jewelry.
Back at the room for a chilled glass of the contraband beverage and a bit of sewing. We are making plans for shipping our purchases back tomorrow. Chala for now. (Ciao in Italian)
p.s. The so called coffee here is strictly Nescafé. I am loving the chai in the afternoons tho.
Or Rupees, as the case may be. I am carrying around my iPhone to act as a quick conversion tool for me and Bonnie when shopping. I have my iPad for photos for easy access for the blog. Not as convenient as a camera but it takes pretty good photos.
We we arrived at Dr. Khatri’s family compound to see the block printing. The family has been doing this craft for many generations. Three gens live in the compound now. The master, Dr. Khatri, (an honorary degree given to him in Britain for keeping the craft going. ) gave us the rundown on his history of his business and the dyes. The blocks printing is all by hand, using a ll natural dyes and indigo as well. They gather the dyes and process them, print the fabric and wash and dry it there in long lengths that they lay out on the ground. His fabric was beautiful intricate printing. Beautiful.
After Dr.Khatris place, we went to another fabric printer in the same village to see what he had He was a nice man with lots of stuff.
Onward to the weaving and indigo demonstration In a touristy town called Bhujodi. These places were ones I went to on my last trip.The weather has been mild and really nice. The drives to these places has been as good as it could be what with all the traffic and horns honking at our big bus. It seats 12 and there are only four of us. We have lots of room.
I hope to get caught up with the blogs tonight. As you can guess I do not have much spare time. I only have internet in the lobby of the hotel. Bye for now.