Getting closer to heaven

Darjeeling, India. We have finally arrived in the hill country where the Brits used to summer when Calcutta got too unbearable. (We reached that threshold the minute we arrived there.)

But getting to Darjeeling wasn’t easy. Yesterday we flew from Kolkata to the town of Bagdogra, which seems notable for its airport and not much else. We stayed in the best hotel in town overnight, and yet it was rather a steep comedown from the LaLit. Oh well. We have been spoiled!

Now, to get to Darjeeling. Sometimes a 10-hour train runs, or you can drive. We did hook up with an eager guide at the airport, who met us this morning as we started off on what turned out to be almost a six-hour car ride. The voting process is beginning, and the roads are full of electioneering vans. But then the shorter road to Darjeeling was closed off because a big meeting was being held somewhere on it – or at least that’s what they said. Soooo, we had to go the longer and much more uncomfortable route.

It did have some nice sights on the way.

About forty minutes out of Bagdogra, the AC could be turned off as we began climbing into the hills. We saw lots of tea plantations, though this tea would evidently not compare to the wonders of Darjeeling. The pickers were out in some of the fields, and we began to see pine trees as our driver plowed relentlessly through very twisty, very narrow roads. The air smelled fresh and we finally started to remember what cool felt like. We stopped at the town (?) of Mirik, which has a great lookout post over the sign they stole from New York. Sigh.

A change in plans….Now I must leave you for a well-earned rest. The Mayfair Hotel in Darjeeling is definitely a step up from last night, but it has lousy WiFi and I can’t load any more pictures without working all night – probably to no avail.

We are here for three nights, so unless something heals, it will be a while before I can post again. Then we’re back to that awful town of Bogdogra for one short night and on to Bhutan on the 16th. Pray that our next country is better connected….

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