Ok...so we are finally in Calcutta. I will paste an excerpt from an email that I sent my fam about the snags on the way here.
"Ok so as I speak it is 5am your time on the 26th...and 11am here in Frankfurt...so why are we still in Germany you ask....let's take it back to a day ago...
So we arrived in Frankfurt at 7am yesterday morning. I was feeling great because I got to sleep on the plane and because I sat next to the nicest woman from Russia (totally random story of how she lives in Tennessee now)
Anyways...we were told what gate to go to and that our flight to Calcutta was at 1135am. So we go have breakfast at Mcdonalds (yes I know) and then go sit at our gate and wait...and wait...and wait. I will say that Julia got her ticket at the counter (no one said anything) and it said Calcutta when we got to the gate. Also, we saw a plane pull up around 10am and figured that it was late and that is what we were going to be going on. On top of everything else, there were a TON of Indians at the gate with us. SO...we go up to the gate around 12 when there are finally people at the counter and say is our flight about ready to board or what? I actually stayed seated while Julia did this but she said the lady looked at her like she was retarded and said that our flight left 30 min ago. Turns out it had changed gates with the only other flight to India that was going to Delhi in a few minutes (hence all the Indians at the gate). I will also note that there was no announcement made, and they informed us that even if we had checked the screen, it doesn't give gate numbers so how were we supposed to know? exactly :) So we were pretty much sol. We went to the help counter (another experience that deserves telling later) and the lady was very nice but here were our options...to fly direct to Calcutta on Monday (the next direct flight) or to fly to Delhi (or another Indian city) today and then we would have to book a ticket to Calcutta (because Lufthansa only pays for the next direct flight or the next leg of the journey) So...we had missed all the flights to India that day ( we weren't allowed to get on that Delhi flight because our bags wouldn't have time to be transferred and they can't fly without us (though that happens all the time). So we were left with staying in Frankfurt for the night (which there are other worse things that can happen by far). My flip flops in 30 degree weather was not optimal but other than that it was a-ok. We stayed at a very nice hotel last night. We went to bed at 3pm and woke up at 7am this morning. I am FRESH and ready to go. The men however, were apparently not as tired as we were and only slept around 7 hours. Amateurs I say. We had been up over 30 hours...
So we are at the airport again...with a confirmed seat to Delhi. Our flight leaves at 1235pm Frankfurt time (on Lufthansa 747-very excited...except for my middle seat) and gets in around 1am (sunday morning) in Delhi. We are flying on a shorter 2 hour flight from there to Calcutta at 635am and gets in around 9am. (it is 11 hours ahead so do the math--I've changed my phone to Germany time and my watch is on Atlanta time so its sometime on Saturday for you I think...10pm?)
So we are all safe and sound and have enjoyed our time in the airport here in Frankfurt....AND I got my passport stamped after all in Germany! I'm not easily frustrated and I really find that people's character begins to show in times of "stress/things not going right"...so you will all be happy to know that I'm with 3 other character-ful people. And really...none of this was not supposed to happen and we will get to Calcutta, even though the devil has tried to make it not so."
Day 4 on the trip:
We arrived in Delhi this morning 1am and then rested at the airport until around 630am when our flight to Calcutta was leaving. I slept for about 30 minutes in the terminal (my sleeping ability anywhere is so handy). We got into Calcutta around 830 this morning and we rode 7 deep in a 5 passenger car to the hotel. I was nauseous to say the least. The driving and roads are worse than Africa and Costa Rica. We made a plan at the hotel to meet around 1pm and venture on with our day. Julia and I talked for about an hour and then we both passed out for about 2 hours. We went and got a snack and then Vic (who works for IJM) came and picked us up and took the 4 of us back to his flat on the other side of town. We met his wife (Julia knew them already) and found out that she was preparing us a very mexican meal of tortillas, beans, salsa, rice, and cheese (I was pumped lol).
So Vic wanted to take us to a village nearby to see what a large majority of the 20 million in Calcutta live in. It was essentially a shanty town with bamboo houses. It was about a 2 mile walk from his place. I walked with him the whole way and just asked questions about IJM and how he got involved with them, as well as things about India that were interesting to me. He goes to this village about once a week to give out candy to the kids there and so they knew him and what he was coming for and all that. The kids were amazing, as they generally are. So innocent and sweet. Of course they attached onto us and just wanted to walk around and hold hands and take pictures. Ahh...it was so sweet, but it just hurt my heart. There was nothing to be done except to be there and experience it and to pray for them, so that's what I did. That's what is hardest I think, is that the city is just so broken...I can see it and feel it and its draining. It's exactly what I asked for though. It's been one day, and I've yet to wrap my head around everything that is swirling through it but that is where it's at now.
After that we went back to Vic's house and his wife had dinner almost ready (one thing that I loved was that they were like ok you can help with this or this...people that usually have you in their home are like no, I have everything under control, but I loved that they were letting us do things.) A couple from the IJM office (the husband is the director of the field office and his wife teaches bengali and also directs an organization here for former and current families of sex workers to do other work) also joined us for dinner. They had a really interesting story; he is Indian and grew up in America and she is American and grew up in India...I actually don't know how they met though.
So on the agenda for this week. Tomorrow and Tuesday we are going to 2 different aftercare homes ( I have heard that one of them is like flying Kingfisher and one of them is like flying Air India- though I have little knowledge as to the true meaning of that statement). We are doing activities with the girls and we will have a translator with us the whole time which is good. Wednesday and Thursday we are helping out with the police training that James and Vic will be heading up. Friday we have a "free" day in which we are going to ride around the red light district and to see more of the city and where these things are happening.
So that is just a recap of life so far here...I haven't really had a chance to process...that can be done on the journey back to the hotel tomorrow I suppose.