I know that I haven't finished telling you about my weekend in Puerto Rico, and I promise I'll get back to it! But since getting back I have picked back up my guidebook to India and the planning for the grand adventure has resumed and I am filled with so much excitement that I just have to babble about it to SOMEONE! *laughs* My poor father is getting tired of hearing my stream of conscious rambling and I won't be back in Boston for another few days. So while I don't have the maps and photos to show you the exact wheres and whys I'll be visiting these various places, here you'll at least get to follow along with what I am thinking.
Ok...here is where we last left off... I was going to be in India June-October and I had the first two months of my trip more or less generally laid out. But then I changed my plans! Suddenly everything has shifted from summer to autumn. And now my carefully laid out plans are in upheaval. There are places that would be brilliant to visit in July or August that just aren't quite worth it to me to visit after the rains (Valley of Flowers) or when the roads may be closed due to high mountain nasty weather/military issues (Ladakh and Leh). A new friend really pushed and suggested visiting Kolkata and Darjeeling, which hadn't even been ON my list initially because they are pretty far from everything else I had planned on seeing. So since I am cutting a few older ideas I figured I'd add a whole new region to the list.
So, I opened the guidebook and I opened my computer and I said "let's start over."
I still haven't worked on the southern portion of my trip. But here are the places I hope to visit during the northern portion...
Dharamsala/ McLeod Ganj
Ok. I do know that I will have to arrange things to come back to Delhi after 10 days, and then after another 2 weeks. Why? Because I am getting my rabies vaccine there and that's the schedule to follow. I promised my doctor I wouldn't forget about this.
So I will keep my original schedule for initial exploration of Delhi/Agra/Jaipur. 10 days for the Golden Triangle. Then back to Delhi. Mid-late September I can make my way up to Amritsar and then on to Dharamsala. There is still that 10-day Introduction to Buddhism retreat I'd love to do. So I could definitely factor that in and afterward make my way back to Delhi for the third and final rabies vaccine shot and then take off somewhere new.
I read in the guidebook that for the time period I'll be around a really good time to visit West Bengal (Kolkata/Darjeeling) is in early October because there are a bunch of awesome festivals around that time that will be awesome to participate in and experience. So okay, I know when to schedule the trip out that direction. I can give myself a couple of weeks and take my time really exploring the area and then stop off at Varanasi on my way back to Delhi.
But things start getting complicated for visiting more of Rajasthan because of what's going on in November. Diwali is 13-17 of November and I was hoping to be in Mumbai for that,
but then immediately after is the Pushkar Camel Fair up in Rajasthan
(something I would love to see!) from 18-27 of November (don't have to stay the whole time, but really want to experience a couple of days at least), so I'd have to go South and then turn around and go back North again. Definitely doable. But I hate backtracking. It really offends my OCD nature. *laughs*
I'm trying to give myself enough structure that my need for structure is satisfied, without tying myself to any one route. I don't HAVE to go to the camel fair. It's just one of those things I saw pictures of once, read a little more about, and it got my imagination fired up. But I suspect it may require a lot of logistical planning and so I have to decide earlier rather than later if I am going to attempt going. Because I don't think it will be possible to find a place to stay at the last minute. Whatever I decide, I've got a list of the dates and various locations where I will be making sure I have lodging AND train tickets booked in advance. I learned my lessons in Ecuador. When traveling over holidays or festivals, don't forget the details or you may get stuck.
But I love this. I am so happy letting all these ideas ramble through my brain as I make sense of it all. Of searching schedules and dates and figuring out when the best times to visit certain places will be and rearranging things and just running wild with it all.