My next morning started in a rush. The group was instructed to meet for breakfast at 6:30, but when I woke up I saw the clock read 6:37. In fear of missing out on what would probably be our only food for a while, I got ready as fast as possible and raced down for breakfast. Luckily I wasn’t the only one who was late either, which made me feel much better.
After our delicious palace breakfast, we made our way to a nearby National Park to take a tour. Everyone got into pairs and jumped onto a bicycle rickshaw to be driven around the park. My amazing rickshaw driver pointed out all of the animals he could see as we were riding around. The main animal we saw was lots and lots of different types of birds, but we also managed to see deer and even monkeys at some points. In the middle of the park we stopped at a small temple and got out of our rickshaws. Here I climbed a lookout tower and also went into the temple to be blessed. After this, we rode out of the park to go back to our hotel. It was an extremely beautiful experience, and made even better by our rickshaw driver who was able to give us detailed information about all of the animals.
After packing up at the palace, we were then back on the bus on our way to a village named Samode. On the way we stopped at a small location for lunch, which also had a store connected to it. While waiting for food, I ventured into this store to explore what they were selling. I found both pants and a dress that I wanted, and managed to haggle down the price about ⅓ of the way.
Once back on the bus, after what felt like forever, we finally arrived in Samode. The first thing we all did was go into the dining room to wait as our trip leaders checked us in to the hotel/castle, but as soon as we got there a monsoon began! It was not new for monsoons to occur on the trip since it was the summer in India, but typically they happened while we were inside a hotel or bus, so it did not affect us. Since the rain was so strong, we could not get our bags. Instead, we all stayed inside and had group bonding time while playing a game called “The Name Game” and eating cookies and french fries that were provided for us as a small snack.
Eventually the rain stopped, and we got our room assignments. I went exploring around the castle and taking pictures with one of my roommates Julianna until it was time for dinner. After dinner, all 14 of us went to one room to play Truth or Dare and Never Have I Ever for even more group bonding time. Even our group leaders stopped by and played with us, which was super fun! After this was finished, I went to my friend JP’s room to hang out. We talked about everything ranging from gender and sexuality to Mexican government and geography. It was a very nice ending to another extremely eventful day.