Tag Archives: Solo Female Travel

5 Things to Know Before Taking a Galapagos Islands Vacation

As I set off for the Galapagos Islands I had no idea what to expect. I knew I was heading to a place I had dreamed of going all my life, and I knew I could speak Spanish well enough that I would be able to find my way around, but I had not done any official research whatsoever. While there, I talked with many people and picked up tips and tricks which made the most of my week on the amazing islands, but this article will share a list of 5 things you should know before you take a Galapagos Islands vacation.

Giant tortoise Galapagos Islands

1. There are hefty taxes to get on to the island. Before you check in at the airport you must scan your luggage, and pay a $20 tax for visiting the islands. Don’t lose this ticket stub because you need to show it when you leave the islands! Upon arrival to the islands you must pay $100 to enter if you’re not from South America, $50 if you’re from South America, and $8 if you’re from Ecuador. Blue Footed Boobies

2. If you want to see the 3 main islands and make the most of a trip that is 7 days or less, look in to flying into an airport on one island and flying out on another island. You could fly in to Santa Cruz, spend a few days, then take a boat to Isabela, spend another few days, then come back to Santa Cruz and pass on to San Cristobal to spend your last few days. Boats do not go from Isabela to San Cristobal or vice versa, you must pass through Santa Cruz.Marine iguanas Galapagos Islands

3. If you’re flying out of Santa Cruz, you have two (or three) options for how to get to the airport. Option 1- take a taxi to the bus station ($1) and catch a bus at either 6:30, 7, 7:30 or 8AM. Apparently once the buses fill up they leave, so these times are approximate. I arrived at 7:45 and there were no more buses. I had to pay the full $18 to be taken to the canal in the taxi, which is Option 2. If you have an early flight, you could also try and talk to one of the dive shops (Option 3) beforehand to hitch a ride with them when they take off at 7am to head to the same canal which you must cross to get to the airport. They will charge you a little something, but it will be less than the $18 taxi fee. My flight was at 12:45 and I ended up leaving at 7:35 from Puerto Ayora to get to the airport and wait for a few hours. It’s not so bad. There are gift shops, places to eat, and places to sit, both inside and outside. Make sure you have something to do to pass the time. Galapagos Islands

4. If you do one paid tour on the Galapagos, make it the Los Tuneles tour on Isabela Island! With this snorkeling trip you will see as much marine life as you do while scuba diving, and you will also walk across amazing lava bridges and encounter hundreds of blue footed boobies, as well as spot dozens of penguins and sea lions. It is amazing to swim up close and personal with sea turtles, white tip reef sharks and rays, as well as massive schools of fish and even sea horses! In low season the tour costs around $75, and in high season it’s around $90, but it is totally worth every penny. Isabela island is by far the most natural and beautiful of the islands. On Isabela you can also see flamingos, and visit a giant tortoise hatching center, as well as snorkel for free at Concha Perla.

Los Tuneles Galapagos Islands

5. It’s actually kind of chilly! Despite being right around the equator, I found the Galapagos to be quite chilly. However, take this information with a grain of salt. I was there in September when the island was being affected by El Niño and I had several cloudy days. Bring long, lightweight pants as a safety precaution. I used mine every night. Also, having a room with hot water was much appreciated because after spending some time swimming in the ocean I felt chilled to the bone, and it was nice to come back to the room and warm up with the hot water. Galapagos IslandsThese are just a few useful things I learned while traveling the Galapagos Islands. Have you ever been, or would you like to go? What are some things that you would share with other tourists who are about to take a Galapagos Islands vacation?

sunset on Galapagos Islands

A Month in Ecuador

Ecuador. According to the tourism board, it’s all you need. I came into the country from Colombia, which lies to Ecuador’s north, and left via the coastal boarder crossing to Peru in the south. During my month in Ecuador I made my way through all sorts of incredible places, from cloud forests to crater lakes to capital cities to the coast, and even hopped over to the magical Galápagos Islands. It all proved to show me that the tourism board was right… You can’t help but love life while traveling in Ecuador.

Ecuador

 Coming in, I crossed the boarder from Ipiales, Colombia to Tulcan, Ecuador. My first stop was a uniquely manicured cemetery of all places! I spent an hour walking around and admiring the hedges trimmed to look like ancient Gods before I caught a bus to Otavalo, a city famous for its indigenous market.

Ecuador

 I spent one luxurious night in Otavalo at the Rincon de la Viajera and seriously considered spending another night for the bed alone. The next day I explored around Otavalo. My first stop was the market, which was a site to behold, from the distinct clothing of the indigenous people, to the beautifully woven tapestries to the knitted handbags and colorful trinkets. My one purchase was a colorful “cinta” which the women use to wrap their hair in a “trenza”. After the market I hiked over to the Peguche waterfall, where I had a bit of nature time before I caught an early evening bus to make my way 3.5 hours to the capital city of Quito.

Ecuador

 I rarely say a city is a highlight of a trip for me, but I really enjoyed Quito’s old town, and the people I met while in the city. I spent two days exploring around, visiting the churches and the art galleries and even accidentally bumping in to the President of Ecuador.

Ecuador

 From Quito I took a quick trip up to the cloud forest of Mindo. This was lovely and lush, with many waterfalls and birds, which are two of my favorite aspects of nature. While I was there, the “Tarabita” tour of the waterfalls was closed for maintenance, but I managed to meet a local who took me on the same trails, chasing after waterfalls and spotting birds along the way. He taught me that boys in tourist towns are not to be completely trusted, but I was still able to enjoy a fantastic afternoon in the nature with him before hightailing it back to Quito, to then continue on to Quilotoa.

Ecuador

 Quilotoa was spectacular. People visit to hike down to the crater lake or to walk around the magnificent crater rim, both of which are absolutely breathtaking, literally and figuratively. The town was cold and deserted, and full of indigenous people fully decked out with skirts, sweaters, ponchos, top hats and layered necklaces in the case of the women. It was a dry, almost desert-like landscape, and two nights was plenty for me, but the fact that we stayed at a place called Hosteria Alpaca, which had delicious community style breakfasts and dinners, 5 star beds, and personal wood stoves in each room made it a pleasant experience.

Quilotoa Ecuador

 From Quilotoa I continued on to Baños, a place known for extreme adventures and waterfalls. I had a rainy few days there, but a cloudy day is no match for a sunny disposition, and I enjoyed my visit nonetheless. Biking from waterfall to waterfall, soaking in thermal baths so hot they were literally cooking me alive, swinging into the great unknown at Casa del Arbol, and standing next to the powerful hurricane-like waterfall of El Pailon del Diablo, were all things I will never forget about my time there.

El Pailon del Diablo

 After Baños I took a night bus and made my way to the Ecuadorian coastal town of Puerto Lopez. It was the time of year to see humpback whales migrating, and although I didn’t take an official boat tour, I did see them spouting up water when I was running along the shoreline. My favorite part about Puerto Lopez was meeting a wonderful German travel buddy, visiting the Los Frailes entrance of the National Park, and drinking delicious coffee at a cafe called Etnias. My least favorite part of the coastal town was the constant leering men.

Puerto Lopez Ecuador

 From Puerto Lopez I made my way down the coast to spend one night in a calm town called Olón, which had a beach that stretched out for miles. It was a beautiful place for my morning run and yoga practice. While there I caught a parade of all the locals kids dressed in their gym uniforms and it was absolutely precious to watch them march throughout the town chanting their class anthems.

School Pride in Olon

 Montañitas was my next stop, and it was just five minutes up the road from Olón. This was the loudest town I have ever visited in my entire life. It is known for being a party town, and it lived up to the reputation. The music would start around noon and blast until 5am or beyond. I am lucky I can sleep through just about anything, but I could literally feel the bass vibrating in my chest. I was told that if you stay “across the bridge” it’s a calmer atmosphere, and that might be true, but where I stayed (Hostel Moai) was in direct line of the clubs. Although it was a really nice place, it was anything but quiet.

Montanitas Ecuador

 After Montañitas I continued down the coast to Guayaquil and spent a day there getting to know the iguana park, the malecón (boardwalk) and hiking up the colorful Cerro Santa Ana. Guayaquil is home to the airport that brought me to my next stop: the Galápagos Islands.

Cerro Santa Ana

 The Galápagos Islands were the true highlight of my time in Ecuador. The sheer quantity of exotic animals was amazing and the fact that they were so curious and playful was a true delight. I never expected to have penguins and seals literally look me in the eyes while snorkeling, or to have schools of hammerheads and golden rays swim by while scuba diving. Every day on the islands was special and full of surprises.

Blue Footed Boobies

 After a week on the Galápagos I flew back to Guayaquil, and spent a day at the home of my Couchsurfing host in the nearby town of Naranjal, eating delicious home cooked bolon soup and playing with kittens before continuing on to Cuenca.
The city of Cuenca is full of things to do, places to see and people to meet, however when I got there I was tired, and learned that a package I had been waiting for had finally arrived in Guayaquil. I decided to head back and get it personally, but first I spent one day touring around the city admiring the graffiti, the galleries, the ruins, the churches, the architecture, the markets and the hat making shop.

Cuenca Hats

 Back in Guayaquil I was happy to reunite with my German friend from Puerto Lopez and to be back in the house of my Couchsurfing host. It felt a bit like “home” after being on the go for nearly a month straight.
Overall my month in Ecuador was pretty incredible. The country has a bit of everything: jungles, cloud forests, volcanoes, mountain ranges, historical cities, ruins, beaches and the incredible Galápagos Islands. I saw more wildlife here than in Colombia, and also saw more people dressed in beautiful traditional indigenous clothing.

Quechua kids

 As a traveler, Ecuador is more expensive than Colombia when it comes to food and lodging, although to a normal vacationer $2.50 for a meal or $15 for a room is typically considered extremely cheap. However the transportation in Ecuador is incredibly inexpensive due to the fact that they have the third-largest oil reserves in South America. Overall, it is extremely easy and affordable to spend a month in Ecuador.
One thing I loved about the country is that the people speak more slowly, so having conversations is typically quite easy, but one thing I detested was that the men were constantly coming on to me, trying to take my hand or charm me with lies. After I came back from the Galápagos I had been planning to spend another week or so exploring the southern areas of Ecuador, but when it came down to it, I was really ready to move on, so I did. One month in Ecuador was just right.
From Guayaquil we caught a bus to Huayaquillas to cross the boarder into Peru, saying, “Hasta luego!” to Ecuador.

Boarder Crossing to Peru

Getting Started with Diving in Taganga Colombia

Travel. In short, it’s all about exploring new worlds and developing yourself along the way. When I left Medellin and set off for Northern Colombia, I had no idea that I was going to put this statement into overdrive, and that I would soon be overcoming my fears of claustrophobia and the deep ocean waters, and exploring a whole new magical world under the sea. One week later I would be a certified PADI open water diver.

Scuba Diving in Tayrona National Park with Octopus Dive Center

 “Holly, the only regret I have is that I didn’t do it sooner.” These words of a trusted friend ran through my mind as I flipped through the pages of my Lonely Planet guide to South America. I had come upon Taganga, Colombia, and was learning that this formerly small coastal fishing town had become one of the best and most inexpensive places to learn how to scuba dive. I figured now was my chance. I might as well go for it.

Scuba Diving in Tayrona National Park with Octopus Dive Center

 Upon arrival in Taganga, I was shocked. The dry and dusty town looked absolutely run down and mostly deserted. I immediately wanted to abort my plan, and head back to Santa Marta and the Dreamer Hostel, where I had just left my friendly new travel acquaintances. But, as always, I stuck it out. I didn’t let my doubts get the best of me. I had a kind Couch Surfing host lined up for 4 days in this town, and the least I could do was meet him and take a walk around Taganga.

Taganga Colombia

 It turned out that my host also had a hostel, Casa Tara, and with that he had dozens of connections all around town. Shortly after I set down my massive backpack, we set off to explore Taganga. That’s when I heard the first explosion, a loud crack in the sky that made me duck down for cover. I looked around with panic in my eyes, and my face clearly asked the question that was running through my mind: What’s going on??
“Let me explain,” said my host. As we walked down the dirt roads towards the Main Street we heard half a dozen more “fireworks” being released into the sky. Apparently I had come on a holiday weekend. It was Friday, and Monday was the day of Saint Carmen, the important saint who helps and protects the people and fisherman of Taganga. It was going to be a weekend of celebration.

Taganga Colombia

 After popping in to a handful of dive centers which lined the streets of Taganga I decided to go with Octopus Dive Center. My Couch Surfing host had formed a relationship with them years before, and when I really couldn’t tell a difference between one place or another I decided a first hand recommendation was my best option. Plus, the woman at the front desk had the name Ada, which is the name of my home town, and she made me feel at ease from the moment I entered the office. I ended up getting started that same day, watching 4 hours of PADI preparation videos to familiarize myself with everything I needed to know about scuba diving before I took to the water.
The next morning I woke up, did a bit of yoga and meditation, and set off for Octopus. At 8am, the office was bustling with clients. I met my dive instructor, Chopper, and he set me up with a wetsuit and shoes, and we hopped into the boat, where he started explaining to me about my oxygen tank and how to set it up.  Around 8:30 we hit the sea. There were approximately 20 people in the boat, a mix of experienced divers, beginners, and instructors, and we all braced ourselves against the splash of the waves as we set off for the waters of Tayrona National Park.

Octopus Dive Center

 Once we arrived, everyone started splashing into the water. Chopper went over the list of activities we would need to perform that day: I would practice putting the regulator breathing device in and out of my mouth, I would practice sharing the “octopus arm” extra breathing regulator, I would fill my mask with water and clear it, and I would take off my mask completely and breath for an entire minute without it, and he would also simulate what it was like to not have air by closing the valve of my oxygen tank.
As soon as I put my face mask on I felt nervous and claustrophobic, and by the time I hit the water I was considering backing out, but before I knew it, I had strapped myself into the equipment and Chopper was in the water with me, signaling for me to deflate my BCD (buoyancy control device) and to let myself sink below the water. It wasn’t so bad at first. I was breathing under water. But then we immediately started going into the exercises. I panicked and kicked up to the surface, starting to hyperventilate. Chopper emerged right after me.

Scuba Diving with Octopus Dive Center

“What happened?” he asked, with a kind of coach-like jostling.
“I panicked!” I said, as I started to tremble. I was seriously thinking to myself, Screw this, I will just snorkel for the rest of my life. Chopper could tell I was really scared, so he swam me to the shallow area, and let me calm down, then we tried again. This time I didn’t have a problem. Taking my mouthpiece in and out, using the coordinating hand signals, even clearing my mask of water were all ok tasks, but when it came time to take off my mask and breath for an entire minute under water without it I freaked out. Chopper quickly plugged my nose for me, and then I regained my sensibility that I could indeed breath through my regulator, and that I wasn’t doomed just because I didn’t have my mask on.
My next task was to shut off the air and experience what it felt like to be out of air. I again became unreasonably scared. Until that day, I had no idea I was capable of crying under water, but apparently I am. Chopper swam me around, showed me some fish, and after a few minutes I was ready to do it…and it wasn’t even that bad. All these tasks are vital to experience if you’re going to be a diver, I just needed to warm myself up to them.

Scuba Diving in Tayrona National Park with Octopus Dive Center

  By the end of our first diving session, I was so grateful to be done and out of the water. Everyone was taken to a nearby beach for a snack break, and it was there I met a girl from Costa Rica who spoke highly of diving at a place which had always called my attention: Isla del Caño. This made me realize that there was so much I could continue to explore if I became certified as an open water diver. The rest of the day I did my swimming tests, and when we got back to mainland around 1pm, I started to study the exam material.
I spent the late afternoon doing yoga on the Taganga beach, where I met a wonderful local woman who invited me to do a sort of acroyoga using cloths and hanging from the sky. This had always intrigued yet intimidated me, but I figured why not accept her invitation and give it a try. In a matter of minutes I was climbing the sheets like a pro. This helped remind me that you will never learn a new skill if you don’t give it a try. By sunset, I was feeling really good. I was happy for overcoming two sets of fears in the same day, and I was excited to approach scuba diving again the next morning, determined to overcome my fears. I watched the sun sink in the sky as the boats came in for the evening to unload and sell their catch of the day. The massive fish were impressive, and I was excited to see them alive and in their natural environment the coming day.

Taganga Colombia

 Day two was more fun right from the start. We went deeper, practiced using our own breaths to float in place, and we practiced sharing air as well as navigating with a compass. I was very lucky that I started at a time where I happened to have my instructor all to myself. Chopper was encouraging and attentive, and literally held my hand as I overcame my fears of being deep underwater. I was in awe as we swam over yellow sea worms, through schools of fish, and between coral mounds, admiring the world under the sea.

Scuba Diving in Tayrona National Park with Octopus Dive Center

After our scuba sessions that day, I decided to take the exam. That way the next day I could dive at peace, and enjoy the festival for Saint Carmen with the rest of the Octopus crew. I ended up scoring 100%, and left the office with pats on the back from all the instructors.
Day three of diving was full of excitement and exploration. I went on a “fun dive” with a large family group, as Chopper had two new beginner students. We found lobsters, eels, an octopus and hundreds of colorful fish ranging from the size of my pinky finger to the length of my torso. My second dive I completed with Chopper, and at 18m deep he proudly scribbled, “Congratulations! Open Diver Certified!” on his underwater clipboard, and shook my hand.

PADI Open Water Dive with Octopus Dive Center

 As we retuned to the diver center, it was time to celebrate. Anyone and everyone with access to a boat was taking them up two towns, to party and dance and float about in the sea. They invited me along for the ride, and off we went, laughing and splashing and smiling as the sun sparkled on the waves in the sea. It was a celebration unlike any I have ever experienced. There were hundreds of boats on the water, and soon people took out buckets and started throwing water onto the passengers of the other boats. From time to time all the boats would come to a stop, and people would jump out and swim, or climb and roll down a sand dune, or hop from one boat to another. They were some of the wildest hours of my life, and I was without a doubt the only foreigner in the midst of all the madness.
As the boat ride came to an end, the party took to the streets. Taganga is typically a party town at night, but this night was beyond all the rest. Everyone was out drinking and dancing in the streets. It was really special to be with people who had lived their whole life in Taganga, and to go from person to person meeting them and hearing a bit of their life story in between rounds of dancing.

Taganga Colombia As my time in Taganga came to a close, I was amazed as I reflected on everything I had experienced in my long weekend there. I had devoted my energy to developing myself, and in the process I had overcome tremendous fears, earned myself a PADI Open Water Diver certification, and I had gotten to know the people of the town on a personal level. The small fishing town which had originally felt so foreign now felt a bit more like home. As I set off on my next adventure, exploring Tayrona National Park, I knew that Taganga would always have a special place in my heart, and that every time I embark on a dive in the future, I will always remember my time with Chopper, and be grateful to my wonderful Couch Surfing host for introducing me to the Octopus Dive Center.

Taganga Colombia

 

*Scuba pictures courtesy of Octopus Dive Center. All others taken by me.

Don’t Let Your Doubts Get in Your Way

The most memorable week of my life started out with a day full of doubt. I was returning from the beautiful lakeside mountain town of Pokhara, Nepal to the country’s dusty capital city of Kathmandu. As our bus wound through the lush mountain roads back to “civilization” I wondered to myself, Do I really want to head back to city life? After all, wasn’t this what caused me to run away from India only a few short days before? I let myself forget my worries and get lost in the scenery as we passed village after colorful village.

Once we arrived to Kathmandu, I had yet another moment of doubt. My friend who I had traveled with was heading back to her cushy, safe, $25 a night American-approved guesthouse, but I had opted to stay with a local Couch Surfing host, and he wasn’t at the bus station yet. We were 40 minutes early, and the phone number he gave me didn’t work, so I had no choice but to wait and hope that our plans held strong. As my friend pulled away in her taxi, I continued to fend off on-coming taxi drivers. “No, thank you, I have a friend coming.” After half an hour of waiting on the curb, trying to read my book, but secretly wondering if this host would indeed come through, he showed up, with an entourage of 4 colorful friends.

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It was Holi in India, a religious “festival of color” and the streets were packed, but nearly every store was shut up tight. We were lucky that one store was open, and we proceeded to drop off my massive bag with this local shopkeeper friend before heading out to walk the streets. Armed with plastic bags of color, we skipped around, singing, “Happy Holi!” as we marked other people celebrating the holiday. There was music and festivity all around, and a generally good vibe in the air. However, while we were dancing in large crowds, the boys would encircle me for protection against unwanted gropes from passing men, and when we walked the streets they fended off water throwers on my behalf. I was happy to be with them, experiencing Holi like a true local, but safely.

As the night wrapped up, we retrieved my big backpack, and headed back to their home. To most Americans, the neighborhood would feel like a ghetto slum, with houses stacked upon houses, and hundreds of electricity lines dangling haphazardly about, but to anyone on this side of the world it’s just a normal neighborhood. As I ducked down to follow them through their gate, and hiked up the stairs, they told me I would have my own room and bathroom. It was obvious that I was taking someone’s sleeping place, as they tidied up the tangle of covers on the bed, but I wasn’t going to argue. They showed me the shower, jimmy-rigged to keep the water off with a wire wrapped around the handle, and told me the bathroom light didn’t work. I realized I was about to have a very cold shower…in the dark… Again, I had moment of doubt, thinking to myself, Are you sure you don’t want to spring for a hostel?

I decided to stay on this path, and proceeded to set up a flashlight in the bathroom and washed the colored powder off my body, jumping in and out of the water, telling myself, “It’s not cold! It’s refreshing!” Upon conpletion, I bundled up in my warmest clothes and came out of “my room” to find my host vacuuming the floor and cleaning the house. He told me I could watch tv, but the other boys were upstairs starting to cook dinner. I’m on a mission to improve my cooking skills, and I’m always looking to learn something new in the kitchen, so I ascended the pitch black stairway towards the rooftop and kitchen area, and that is when everything really came together to let me know I was exactly where I needed to be.

All these boys come from the same rural village, a few hours outside of Kathmandu. They have grown up together their whole lives and have basically formed a “village away from the village” with this apartment. Everyone is welcome, everyone helps one another, and everyone contributes, taking their turn cooking dinner or cleaning the house. That first night I was merely a spectator, but in the nights to follow I would help to cut and clean the vegetables, and even become familiar with their local vegetable vendor, learning how to say various vegetable names in Nepali.

As I sat in the kitchen, observing the preparation of rice (bhat), lentils, (dal) and vegetables, the boys started to engage me in conversation. All understood English, but some were less confident than others in their conversational abilities, so they would look to one another for help with their responses. Two boys really took me under their wing and started teaching me some useful phrases like “shuva bihani” (good morning), “shuva din” (have a good day), and “shuva ratri” (good night). My use of these simple phrases, and my willingness to learn Nepali, would prove to help make me quite popular with the locals in the weeks to follow.

That night, I remember feeling such a happiness in my heart as I stood in the kitchen, watching these young men work together, and listening to them sing various songs, like John Legend’s “All of Me” and some old romantic Nepali classics. I was so grateful that I hadn’t let my fear of the unknown scare me out of this amazing, authentic experience of living like a local in Nepal. From day one, I knew my bond with these boys (ages 22-25) was something special, but I had no idea how fond we would all grow of one another in the coming week. By the time I left, they gushed, “You are the best Couch Surfer we have ever had! Your presence adds something special to the group!” My cheeks flushed, but my heart melted.

In Nepal they say that the “guest is God”, and these boys lived up to this saying, treating me like a queen. My stay extended for more than a week, and was full of incredible experiences: a trip to their rural mountain village, a local wedding, time spent working in the fields, a motorcycle road trip to Chitwan National Park, and regular wonderful days commuting to and from the city for work.

I will forever remember my week spent with these boys, and I will hold the memories we created together near and dear to my heart for years to come. Another win with Couch Surfing, and another experience that taught me not to let moments of doubt get in the way of a good time.

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The Sounds of India

From the moment you wake up, even before you open your eyes, you can hear India all around you.

From the bed where I rest my head, I hear voices from the hallway, loud and foreign. Doors shutting forcefully, and causing the rest of the doors to shake in their frames. People washing themselves. The splash of the water, the sounds of people clearing every orifice to start their daily routines.

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On the street, the crowd has only just begun to form. India isn’t a country of early risers, but India is a country of more than 16 billion, so even the “early rising” crowd can account for thousands.

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There is a clamor all around. A bustle that comes with the street. People are walking, and shuffling around one another. Some push carts, full of food- vegetables dripping water, popcorn bursting over a fire, and many unidentified fried objects. Others pull carts, loaded with rock or brick or wood.

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Every hundred steps or so, you see a dog. Surprisingly, I haven’t heard one sound from a dog, but their eyes tell a story and you know they have seen unimaginable things.

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As you come to an intersection, you wonder how there hasn’t been a collision. No one stops until their rickshaw is almost touching the car or cart or motorbike that has crossed in front of them. The intersection is a place where a crash seems inevitable, yet somehow everyone manages to continue on, unscathed.

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The horns are so prevalent that before you know it, they become your background noise. The calls of people however, jump to the foreground, as they approach you, inviting you to try this, buy that, or simply give a handout of some sort- chocolate, milk, money…

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The temples have a sound all their own. The Sikh temple has live music, blaring rhythmically, enchantingly from the speakers surrounding and inside the building. The Hindu temple is cool, calm, and quiet, with the sounds of the people echoing off the marble floors, walls and ceilings.

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As afternoon turns to evening, the bustle dies down again, as India is not a late-night place either. Again, there are still thousands, but in comparison to the hundreds of thousands, this seems tame. As you walk through the market, you are accosted by hundreds of smells all at once, but this is another tale completely…

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There is no official end to the day, but once the streets are dark, there is definitely a “quiet” that comes about. Horns are fewer, as the traffic mostly turns to pedestrians. You return back to the room where you reside, and if you are in the Raj Villa of Paharganj, New Delhi, the sound that will accompany you to your dreams is the sound of the hotel elevator playing Kenny G every time someone steps in to use it…

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This is India.