Hey fellow bloggers!
Over the last few days, the group endured a decent amount of moving around, some sickness, but most importantly loads of laughter & fun!
Let’s bring it back to Monday morning. We finished planting rice yesterday, so we began our journey to the buffer zone to plant trees. We ate breakfast, packed our bags, & prepared for the two-hour hike ahead of us. As we came closer to the campsite, we stopped at a small hut where Febroni showed us how red sugar is made. He taught us how to mix it in the bowl, pour it into circular bowls, & then let us all have a small portion of it to eat. We all felt kind of tired so it was a fantastic way to keep us fueled for the rest of the hike. Dharma explained that we had a solid four hours left of the hike, but it turns out four hours is equivalent to 10 minutes here.
We arrived at the campsite & were absolutely stoked by the beauty & serenity of the nature surrounding us. The campsite was right beside the river & had two huts for us to stay in. Not only did we have a hut rather than a tent, but also individual mosquito nets!!! For the next few hours we rested up before we’d head out to plant 130 trees at around 3:00. There was a large sign with the numbers of how many trees groups associated with our hosts had planted, & we noticed that the last ARCC group planted 322. Since everything is a competition, we (Neil) decided we had to plant at least 323. 3 o’clock rolled around & we journeyed to the first buffer zone, with lots of water & determination to get things done.
We encountered some roadblocks, like feeling slightly dehydrated, but overall the worst part was how bad all of us reeked. Drenched in sweat & dirt, we decided to just hold our breath around each other. With lots of hard work, we reached our goal, & returned to the campsite with the cooling river to clean us off our nastiness. It’s a good thing that stench repels mosquitoes!
The next morning we woke up to the soft sounds of the river flowing & the crickets chirping. We all felt well rested due to the fact that they were no squawking roosters, motorcycles going in & out, or the Call to Prayer at 4 in the morning. After breakfast, we went to the buffer zone to plant more trees, in hopes of beating the last ARCC group. Fortunately, Neil was still really determined to beat the last ARCC group, so his positivity really kept us going. We pushed through the first 100 plants so quickly, that Dharma made the executive decision that we’d plant 50 more.
We (besides Neil) all hoped that maybe it would rain later so maybe we could take a break from the hard work after lunch. Lucky us! We got our wish. Instead of planting trees we spent our afternoon/evening learning about the Leave No Trace principles, sipping hot chocolate, & bonding with each other. We eventually called it a night & fell asleep to the tapping of the soft rain.
Once again, we woke up to no roosters and made our way to breakfast. We planned to depart at 10 am, so we spent the last couple hours really savoring our time left at the campsite. When 10 finally struck, we packed up our things & said farewell to a really beautiful place. We arrived at the village hungry and regrouped for lunch & afterwards decided to spend some personal time before we practiced for our farewell performance tonight.
The children of the village planned a dance that represents their culture for us, so we were requested to return the favor. We made the decision to perform the “Cup Song”, a popular song that uses cups for instruments originating from the movie Pitch Perfect. We also decided that the “Cha Cha slide” really represented America and everyone already knew the moves so that was a bonus. We laughed as the boys struggled to master the cup song, but it didn’t take long for them to figure it out. We ate our dinner & when 8:00 pm struck we hurried to the gazebo to watch the kids of the village dance. We could tell they were excited to exhibit their skills, so that made it even better to watch. They performed a few dances, one including flower confetti they tossed in our direction. Finally, we stepped up to the plate to absolutely throw down to the Cup Song and Cha Cha Slide. Chelsea and Livia, our talented singers really stole the show during the cup song and made up for our small mistakes with the cups. We then executed the dance with pure talent & technique. I really think we beat the last ARCC group’s rendition of the Cupid Shuffle if I do say so myself.
Shortly after, Me’Me’s birthday was celebrated with a lovely cake made by one of the mothers in the village. Everyone gave her a big hug while music played & we shared the cake. Febroni brought out sodas & other treats as well! The feelings of love & joy really made for a great goodbye from Dharma’s lovely village.
Thanks for checking in bloggers!