29 May 2011

We Knew When to Fold 'Em and When to Walk Away

Our vacation wasn't terrible. But we came home a day early. It wasn't what we expected and it wasn't relaxing. The good parts weren't making the lame and frustrating parts bearable enough and since Mike has Monday off from work we decided to come home while we could still salvage some of the long weekend.

Muffin had a blast. She was having so much fun that it was nearly impossible to get her to sleep at night. We saw monkeys right outside our cabin and at the camp restaurant. There were goats and cows along the road. A camp dog followed us around all day and hung out on our porch. There were bugs and dirt everywhere. It was paradise for our little adventure baby.

Packing up.

It didn't take Muffin long to go from hip city kid...

...to Lord of the Flies jungle baby.

Out for a walk.

The Tyda Jungle Bells camp was a bust so it's just as well we only stayed there one night. The trekking they advertised was walking up the hill along a road and they insisted we needed a guide. The guide never showed up so we wandered around on our own until the humidity and bugs drove us back to our cabin.

The language barrier with our driver only exacerbated some of the problems we had with him. A lot of the problem would probably be considered our fault for not wanting to stick to a planned itinerary, for wanting to be more spontaneous. That's the way travel is done here. But we insisted we had reservations at one hotel and even when we showed him the printout, he didn't believe us and drove us to another hotel, brought our reservation up to the front desk, then returned to the car to explain they have no rooms so we'll have to go to the other hotel. No kidding, that's why we didn't book there in the first place.

Muffin gets a lot of attention when we go out in public because she's so white. We're used to it here in H'bad. But out in a remote area that doesn't have a lot of Western visitors, we were mobbed whenever we left our room and it became exhausting. We were seen as the rude ones for being tired of having so many people stop us to take photos and try to hold the baby. It's one thing when it takes five minutes out of our day. But when there are several families taking that five minutes, the time adds up and we felt like we had lost a lot of our own family time, obliging other families and trying to be friendly.

Her adoring fans.
The Borra Caves were cool and we're glad the driver ignored our wishes and took us there early in the morning before too many people arrived. The botanical gardens in Araku were also quite pleasant, later in the day as the sun was going down and we were too tired to worry about being polite, declining all requests for photos with Muffin. And the scenery throughout the trip was gorgeous. It reminded us of the mountains in Burundi and Rwanda. But I think we were actually aching for some Burundians whose French was at least as decent as ours so we could get our basic ideas across rather than hoteliers who didn't speak any English at all.

But in the end, we were tired from Muffin's lack of naps. We weren't doing any of the trekking we had planned. We were spending too much time in the car between the few touristy things that we did want to see, plus the driving between hotels. (And to top it off, we were in a dry county! Not that we're huge drinkers, but we were having the kinds of days were a cold beer at sunset would have tasted very good.) On Saturday afternoon I asked Mike when do we decide to go to the airport and catch the next flight home because it wasn't fun anymore. He made some calls and we were home about thirty hours sooner than we'd planned. Muffin went down for a nap right away and then went down for her regular bedtime with no fuss.

The trip was a learning experience. We now know that Muffin is mostly agreeable (until bedtime) where ever she is and she handles all the attention like a champ. The hiking backpack worked out well. I'm not inclined to go on too many more trips, though, until she's off of bottles and formula. Washing the bottles in the given facilities was a pain. And somewhat begrudgingly we'll probably try a more "Western-friendly" location on our next trip, just to see what the difference is.

More photos on flickr.


Jill said...

Nothing to say at all except ... Yup!

Been there, done that. And I so get it!

The Conscience said...

Wow...I don't think I would handle the whole "let me hold your baby" thing very well. My youngest daughter is multi-ethnic, and I had to 'wave off' a few people when she was very young. No kidding, in the weirdest places (Wal Mart etc) people would walk up and touch my child...that is a great way to get laid out where I am from! Sorry the trip stunk, but great pix!

Deidre said...

I honestly can't imagine travelling around India with a baby. I had enough trouble getting myself around!


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