I have fallen completely and utterly in love - and I know it sounds a bit strange; I know that India is a country that fights corruption and poverty in measures I as a European do not understand. It's hot and humid, colorful, noisy and smelly... but also beautiful and alive and vibrant and the people there are so wonderful and helpful, they will try to understand you as to what you try to say or buy or ask.
India fascinates me - and it scares me. It makes me laugh - and makes me sad. I don't just see everything through rosy glass but still - I have fallen in love with a place, a country and its traditions and culture, the people there and the vastness of the beautiful nature.
I have never been to India but have had a dream about it for decades and the deeper I have gotten into yoga, the practice and the philosophy that wish has become stronger and stronger and in early summer I booked a ticket and sent in my visa application - and waited!
It actually started out with my calling a friend of mine, saying: "Well, after our honeymoon I don't think I will ever need to travel again. It was such an adventure in Cuba!"..... and a week later I called her again and proclaimed that I booked a trip to India!
I looked online to find the perfect spot, preferably a resort where I could stay, they should at least offer yoga and meditation every day as that was why I wanted to go.
On www.bookyogaretreats.com I found Hinterland Village, just an hours drive from Cochi airport in Kerala. Also a plus that Unni Thricovil (the owner and founder) arranged the transfer to and from the airport and just added the amount it cost to my bill to be paid at the end of my stay.
A perfect spot indeed; when I mailed Unni he was so friendly and answered all my questions in a calm and positive way, making sure I felt completely safe and taken care of even before travelling. And I did feel safe and I didn't fret about anything at all!
Still, I did not really DARE to have any great expectations - I would travel around to world to stay in a culture unknown to me, AND going alone so I was a bit apprehensive!
All my dreams came true, though, and I felt taken care of and safe from when I sat foot on Indian soil. My driver picked me up and delivered me to 14 days of planned life, lovely food and caring service from all the people of Hinterland. I was not to concentrate on anything but my daily schedule;
6: wake up and herbal tea
individual massages, Ayurvedic treatments or just lounging in the hammock
massage, treatment, lounging or touristing
15.30: herbal tea and snack
18: herbal tea and snack
Meals, lovely colorful and vegetarian, tea, herbal water and snacks were all included, and water was double filtered and very safe to drink. If anything was needed the staff would go out of their way to accommodate your wishes. The staff didn't feel like staff, but more like they had opened their private home to you and I loved the feel of "All is good, Unni knows what to do!"
Every morning Unni would make a note for each and every one to make sure we knew the days programme and what we had in store. One day I didn't get one and I got all nervous!! I might not know what day or date it was, what time in the day - but everything will be just fine because we had the note from Unni to navigate by!
If I wanted to go out "in the real world" I asked to have a tuktuk or a taxi, and they were told exactly what I wanted and then instructed to drive me there and wait for me, follow me and my friends around and deliver us safely in Hinterland when we were finished! It made me feel safe and cared for, just like a big brother or a Dad fixing everything. This could be done on any given day you just notified the staff and you were excused from the plan of the day.
The real world was nice - but it was also really nice to return to the resort, relax by the pool or just chat to the others or maybe arrange for an impromptu yoga class or a individual talk with the Ayurvedic doctor or just napping in the hammock. So many choices.....
My own practice has certainly become deeper after my visit. I can concentrate on the details of my own poses and make them better. Also - being a teacher - I enjoyed all the classes and the ideas I had from them. I started planning my new classes after new year with a new form of yoga called "Good Morning Yoga" inspired by my practice with Yogi Swami.
I also cherish the people I met there - different nationalities and languages, French, Swiss, Indian, German, Canadian, from New Zealand, Danish, English, Polish, Israeli, American, Australian, Scottish and then some. I formed close friendships all over the world and am so thankful for all the teachings I have had.
I always felt as if I didn't have a circle - but it turns out I HAVE a circle it's just so big it's difficult to see! And that is truly a gift to be grateful for!
And what did all this cost you may ask? Well, after 14 days of food and activities, Ayurvedic consultations, detox, drinks, snacks, laundry and driving me around I paid 1100 euros. The most expensive was the flight and the vaccinations I needed before travelling!
So, yes I have truly been to India, I did go into Fort Cochi, I did see temples and a couple marrying, I ate curry for breakfast, drove in the most horrific traffic chaos in the world, bought spices for 5500 rupees and came home with more cloth that I know what to do with! But have I finished? No, I've only just begun! I want to travel there again, see more, meet people and learn more! I want more!
And yes, I'll be coming back to Hinterland Village and Unni and the lovely family there. If you ask me I would say it is also something about the entire philosophy around the resort; it is created for yoga and Ayurvedic medicine. It is created to preserve nature and a safe haven for people and animals, both domestic and wild, that can have a difficult life, strays and rescues. It is respectful and acknowledges the responsibility there is of environment and the nearby village. As an example there will be help to the locals to have water supply during the warmest of months; Hinterland itself will be closed but a water tank will be available for a couple of hours every day. You respect nature and take care of the people around you! I You share what you have and get what you need and that is the right way I believe to make the world a better place!
In this moment I am planning to be back in September and October this year - so maybe I'll see you??
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