Day 21 March 6, 2017

I was up at 5:00. This was the midpoint in our trip, I can’t believe how much we had seen and done so far!
We were given another opportunity by Sangam staff to climb the water tower to view the sunrise at 7:00 a.m. I wanted to be showered and completely packed before that. There were 4 of our group with a staff member at the base of the purple and gold tower ready to go up. I had really been apprehensive but kept trying to push down that fear. I remember when my friends and I did the zip lining at the Long Point Eco tours, I had no problem until the end when I had to repel backwards to get the the ground.
It was my turn. I began to climb the rungs, knowing I was safe, there was a cage around me, but after about 15 steps or so my heart began to beat fast and I thought I was having a panic attack! I gave in and came back down. I chickened out. I was a failure. In my mind only, for a short time, then I decided I can’t be good at everything I try. There will be a next time.
I sent my camera up and kept an SLR that was too heavy for another woman to carry so I took photos from the bottom with her zoom lens.

Task completed we entered the quiet dining hall and made coffee and chatted. It was peaceful and the birds were singing outside adding to the feeling of an oasis with the pool reflecting and the tropical plants outside. Lovely.

Soon, it was time to depart. Rickshaws entered the driveway and we began to load into them. We started to sing Say Why, the tap started again. I love that song but hated the good bye. As we all departed, Sangam staff gathered and was singing a farewell song that I couldn’t hear because I was blowing my nose….

Pune airport was small and manageable and we were through in no time. Waiting I purchased a chicken cheese pizza on a thick raised wheat or rice crust and a Minute Maid orange juice. It hit the spot. Boarding the plane off the Tarmac was an experience and we were at the back end of the plane and had our own set of stairs. It was nice to not have to wait and bump into people between seats 1 to 20. Our flight to Jaipur began and I blew up my travel pillow, put in earplugs, to drown out the poor child screaming, donned my eye bra (it looks like a bra!) and settled in for a nap.

Awaking as I heard announcements, I looked outside and could see the desert land below. It then made way to patchwork green which were farms growing food. It was beautiful from the air.
After an easy landing we entered the shuttle bus and I loved the beautiful modern airport. All glass, reflecting the sky outside, inside it was bright but cool with conditioned air. Waiting for our luggage, I heard “there’s Nancy!” She had just arrived from Delhi to meet and be with us for the Golden Triangle tour. Several people in our AOW tour have travelled with Nancy before and a warm reunion with hugs ensued.

Our tour bus, “Big Blue” was waiting for us and we were well taken care of, loaded and introduced to our tour man for the next few days, Sunil, and our driver and helper Tara as well.
We just started to drive on the main road away from the airport and Sunil began handing out packages. SILK SCARVES! The were made of block painting with several colours. Everyone enjoyed the scarf they were handed and put them around their necks immediately. THEN he came around with a lovely pink and gold polka dotted bag. In it was a colourful small purse that I’m sure my grand daughter will absolutely love! This tour company is top notch and I see why Nancy chooses them for her tours. We all felt so special!

There were huge changes from the last time I was in Jaipur. Modern buildings and roads everywhere on this road. Sunil asked us if we were OK to see a temple first before we checked in and we said yes. He took us to the temple of Ganesh and Lakshmi I think it was Birla temple, and it was beautiful! From inside, the sun was perfectly situated in the sky to be able to see the carvings that were on the outside of the temple, as a shadow on the inside. It was a framed area above the Temple entrance/exit, perhaps 6 x 8 feet, the thinner marble allowing this.

Heading out towards Trident hotel we saw a different type of rickshaw than in Pune. These rickshaws are called Tuc Tuc and are larger. Apparently they are also much more environmentally friendly, less pollution. There it was! Jai Mahal, a summer palace that was home to the royals that is no longer being used. Normally when Nancy has been here, there has been no water. Today the water with pelicans and ducks and other water fowl reflected the architecture of the building, how beautiful!!

The huge blue bus turned left and waited as the large black iron gates were retracted into the walls on either side of the entrance wall and we pulled up the driveway. Bougainvillea and other flowers adorned the entrance as the scent of a floral incense wafted through the air. A lovely welcome. We were blessed with yellow turmeric on the forehead as we were ushered into the lovely bar area and were asked to sit down and given a cool refreshing fruit drink.
Rooms were assigned and the bell boys delivered luggage. We settled in, washed off the sweat of travel, changed and went to the expansive dining room where a buffet consisting of any food a person could want (well, except for beef) was available for the taking.

Tomorrow was a city Tour and shopping! I went to bed going over my shopping list in my mind as I drifted off to sleep.


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