5.19.16 Blog Day 9: RIWATCH to Assam, India

The day started off with breakfast.There were many treats, the most enjoyable of which I found to be fried bread. We prepared for our journey and started saying our goodbyes. We gave USF hats to the students who were volunteering at RIWATCH over their summer break. Headgear was also given to the kind fellows who fed us each day. After all the humans had received their goodbyes I also said goodbye to Babu, the stubby tailed dog whom I befriended and named. I also gave a belly rub to a pup whom I had met that day when the professors were not watching.

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On our way out we stopped at the RIWATCH museum that is currently under construction and we were told that the museum would contain artifacts from an Arunachal Pradesh archaeological dig site. The section of the museum that would be devoted to animal trapping sounded particularly interesting to me.

After that we enjoyed a 7 hour car ride to Assam which was not all that eventful, except for at one point we saw an adorable monkey on the side of the road. So of course, we had to stop traffic and take pictures. We may have gotten honked at…a lot.

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The car ride was broken up by a ferry ride across the river. It was very sunny, so I dangled my legs over the edge in the hopes that they might get splashed and cool me down. The driver of our car asked me to move back (twice), I think he thought I would fall in.

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Rila, one of the students from RIWATCH left us along the way to go back home. I thought it was sweet how much she and Magdala bonded, that they even exchanged bracelets. Rila even cried when she hugged us goodbye. We also stopped for a yummy lunch and I tried a Lassi, which is a delicious yogurt drink. Afterwards my tummy hurt, but I’m not sure it was the Lassi’s fault, as my tum had been slightly funky for a few days prior to that.

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By the end I was dying to get out of the car. We passed by some type of political rally due to the recent election. Finally we arrived at FabIndia where we shopped our hearts out. I think the store would be happy to have us back again. We got back to Dibrugarh University and settled down for the night, resting our weary eyes after our lengthy travels and energizing for the next day.

Reflections by Leah Abramoff:

This was a day full of goodbyes. Goodbye to the staff and people residing at RIWATCH, goodbye to new friends made, and goodbye to the continual hands-on learning of the rural communities within Arunachal Pradesh. At this point in the trip it felt like our journey was mostly over and the mood of the group was starting to shift as we approached the last leg of our program. Once again we found ourselves traveling on dirt roads and taking a ferry unlike any we could have ever imagined riding within the USA. The modes of transportation really underlined the differences within the infrastructure in the rural areas of India versus more urban areas and led the group to asking questions in regards to how the people living within the state receive supplies when nature strikes (e.g. heavy storms, flooding, etc.). Generally, the response was “wait it out” and “hope for the best.”

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