As a high schooler at the American Embassy School, the classrooms get closed for a week and all students get some “real learning” in the country in which we live. Back in October, the 25 trip choices were given to us. We had to make a list of our top 16 choices and then it was up to the “computer lottery” as to which trip we were assigned. The 25 trips varied from service trips, cultured focus or moderate, challenging or extreme in adventure. For someone who loves ceramics, they could go and do ceramics in a village in India for the week. There were horseback riding adventures as well as many river rafting choices. The one that I got assigned to from my choices was the “Kingdom of Kumaon.” My group consisted of 12 other boys (mostly juniors) and a husband/wife teaching team from the school. There were guides from a company that led us on our journey.
We left Saturday morning at 4:00 a.m. and returned at 5:00 a.m. the following Thursday morning. We traveled 7 hours on a train and 4 hours on a jeep to get to the destination in Kumaon Himalayas. I have never seen such mountain ranges, it went on for quite a distance. Due to the rain and foggy weather, I did not get to see them in all of their splendor but what I did see was impressive.
The first ruling dynasty of this area dates back to 500 BCE. It is now in the present day Uttarakhand state of India. We hiked through the Binsar National Park and passed through several different villages and got to see how the people really live life. Let me just say that life in these villages is VERY simple. Binsar was the capital of the Chand Raj kings who ruled in the 7th and 8th centuries. We saw a Shiva temple built during this time period.
Our days consisted of lots of trekking. We started around 8:00 every morning and then finished around 4:00 p.m. daily. It was a lot of up and down hills but not that strenuous. We slept nightly in tents but our gear was transported daily to our end spot so we only had to carry our daypack with us. It rained nightly and on one night the wind blew so hard that our rain protection over the tent blew off, getting us wet on that night. On one day we got caught up in a “gobstopper size” hail storm as we were trekking.
It was the first time our school had done this particular trip and overall, it did not contain a lot of excitement but it was neat to see this area of India. In total we did 60 kilometers in 4 days. I came home tired and ready to sleep in my own bed. Next year I hope to win the lottery on a river rafting trip. The best part — no schoolwork all week!