So, this is it.
Our last day in India. We leave in just a couple of hours for Sydney.
A twelve hour flight.
And I am ill!!
But, who cares. Now is not the time to mope and feel sorry for myself. There are some very important things that need to be said before we sign off from this country, and I can't think of a better time or place to say them than here and now!
Our last day here went by without much drama. We spent our final night on Chowpatty beach people watching. Every night literally hundreds of locals flock to the beach to just sit and socialise, and in the time we sat there, I took the oppurtunity to reflect on the trip so far, and our experiences here.
It has definitely been an adventure, you cannot argue with that. From the moment we stepped off the plane a month ago to yesterday, sitting on the beach, it's been rare that a day has gone by with no story to tell.
That seems to be the beauty of this place - this country. You never really know what to expect. You can read things and have an idea in your head of what something is like, but 99% of the time you get there and your vision is wrong: usually in reality whatever it is you are seeing or doing is infinitely more beautiful, interesting, and mind blowing than you could ever imagine.
The Taj is clearly going to be stunning, but no encylopedia articles or posters at school can quite prepare you for just how extravagant and detailed it is. The caves at Ellora were an amazing shock - expecting just a view caves in the mountains, what we were actually met with were the most intricate carvings and grand temples, all hand built, hundreds of years ago, with nothing to compare them to in modern times. All the forts we saw, although there were a lot, were grand and strong and being there forced you to imagine what they were like in their prime, when under attack from the enemy, or just living there day to day.
But all the sights, all the monuments aside, just being here, living the life and seeing how others are living theirs - that's what I have enjoyed the most. Yes, the poverty is here and at times is in your face. You can't walk down the street without being asked for food or money, and yes, I felt a bit guilty at times when not helping them, but there is little you can do.
And yes, at times the hawkers and touts pushed their luck, and eventually when they have followed you for 100m and not let up, you just want to scream and shout at them.
But without them, it would not have been half as fun - half as exciting. They create the atmospher. They mould the country into what it is, and make it a vibrant place, that attacks all your sense all the time.
Along with their shouts, beeping horns, and mooing cows, the smell of rotting vegetables that would sicken you at home, just make the place what it is. Te bright saris and the colorful spices on display, and the smell of cooking food everywhere you go, means you cannot escape the feeling that they are putting on a show all the time - trying to attract everyones and keep us all entertained.
And we were.
But it is not a show. It's the way it is, and I loved every second.
The most incredible thing about being here was the way we were treated by locals. More often than not the people were shockingly friendly, and once you got past the staring they would quite happily chat for you for a whole morning, enquiring about your life, your work, and what we though of India. ONly the other day we took a 68 year old local for a beer. He was slightly eccentric, and made us laugh alot, but we really enjoyed his company, and he was genuinely interested in what we had to say.
That, I think, is what I will take away from here - It costs nothing to be friendly and polite and interested in other people. You never know what you might learn. I have met some of the poorest people in the world, and the rich Westerners come in flashing their cas, and there seems to be little bitterness or even jealousy. They like that we are here, they like we are in their country, and fundamentally, I think they like us.
After the Taj, tigers, temples and touts, I will be sad to leave. Excited about the next chapter of our story, but still sad. I have had an amzing time here and experienced more than some do in a lifetime.
It has been incredible.
And Dan and I are still talking - bonus!!
So as we set off for NZ, I can only wonder what we might see and learn next.
Bring it on!