This morning I woke up and took in the view from my room. I could see the beach less than 100 yards away. After talking to Cori and the kids, I got dressed and ready to go meet the others for breakfast. I started having a minor panic attack because I couldn't find my passport. I was so freaked out! I even went down the front desk to see if they found it. I took everything out of my suite case and my backpack. I tore apart that room looking for it. Finally, I remembered it was under a stack of books right there on the desk. I've been keeping it in my back pocket with my wallet. Last night I noticed that it was starting to bend and conform to my pocket so I decided to try to flatten it out by putting it under a couple of books. I wish I would have remembered doing that before I ransacked everything trying to find it. :) What a scary 20 minutes that was! After breakfast we went out to the beach and checked out the water. The waves were very high and there were signs posted recommending against swimming. I wasn't planning on getting in the water anyway, but those waves would have been fun to ride - at least the first time. It looked pretty dangerous and it seemed like the undertow could have easily pulled you right out to see. The beach was not very shallow at all.
I spend most of the time walking along looking for sea shells. There were tons of really unique ones. It seems the remains of the tsunami can still be seen. There are piles of trash everywhere. The best part of the day was when we were looking for shells we were approached by a man and his kids. He was selling some beads as well. He was also selling a hand-carved slingshot. It was really well-made and actually shot a rock pretty far. He demonstrated it a few times for me. He was asking 300 rupies for it. That's the equivalent of about $6. I think buying that from him made his week. He let us take pictures of him and his kids. They were very cute and were not afraid to ham it up for the camera. As soon as I snapped the photo, they would run over and want to see their face in the camera display. The man's name was - no clue how to spell this - Daos (???) He pronounced it like "dowse". Anyway he was very nice and it was cool to be able to interact with him and his family. I also snapped a shot of his hut that was maybe 50 yards from the water.
I continue to be amazed at how people live. We are millionaires compared to these people and we don't even know it. We never have to wonder where our next meal will come from or if our hut might blow over one night. Running water, electricity, food - all things we never have to worry about and often blatantly waste.
After the beach, we decided to go into Pondicherry proper and do a bit of site seeing and get some lunch. I made it clear that I was very interested in coming back after lunch and sitting in a hammock and reading or napping or something - just to have some down time.
Much to my disappointment, that never happened. The restaurant we ate at in Pondicherry was in a really nice hotel right on the seawall boulevard near a boardwalk. Everyone else decided that we should stay there tonight instead of going back to the yucky hotel. Even though it was yucky, I was prepared to put up with it because of the relaxation it offered - quiet, outside of town ... did I mention the hammocks? :)
In the end, the orange-rust water coming out of the pipes in the shower, the dirty concrete floors and the one-man cot beds heavily outweighed the hammocks in the minds of my traveling companions.
So instead of going back and relaxing, we went back and packed up all of our stuff and brought it back to this hotel. It definitely is a nice hotel and has all the modern amenities (e.g. internet, clear water, sanitation), but I really had to work on having a good attitude about wasting all that time in the car going back and forth (about 20 minutes each way). So now we're back in the town with street vendors everywhere and car horns honking outside every 30 seconds or so.
If the past few days have taught me anything, its that I never have the right to complain or be ungrateful for anything. I keep wondering to myself, "God, why was I born in America? I could have been born here?" We have no control over what nationality we are or what country we're born into. I'm extremely thankful I was born in America. Only 3 more full days until I start the long journey back home - whoo! I can hardly wait. :)