This morning I woke up around 5am because of the music playing in the village. It plays every morning, loudly. It is for the festival of Pongal, in the village of Kottokari. It is supposed to be a 4 day long harvest festival, but this has been going on since we got here. We have some very enthusiastic and festive people who like to wake up very early. I was finally able to get back to sleep about 30 minutes later. We had breakfast at 8 of fresh yogurt, mixed fruit, and chai tea.
We left for the visitor center around 9:15. We met up with Shivaraj from the Healing Forest. We rode through Kottokari on our way there. It took us outside of Auroville so we got to see some of the village life. We were like a parade and people watched us and came out to either stare or say hi. At the healing forest they have built up the land, planted trees and native healing herbs. Shivaraj teaches locals about the traditional healing arts and how to cultivate the herbs. Many of us have a cold so he pointed out a leaf to brew in a tea. I just drank some as I’m writing this and it tastes pretty good J
Afterward we took a trail to Discipline Farm. Halfway there it started pouring down rain. At first we thought it was great and ran around in it, getting completely soaked. Upon arriving at Discipline we were cold and soggy. We ended up waiting for about 15 minutes until the rain calmed down. Then we went on a tour of the farm. They had cows for doing work, but also for milking. We saw 2 types of spinach, bananas, guava, beans, coconut, and some others. And then it started pouring again. The water level rose very quickly, because they have already had their rainy season here. The soil is saturated. Soon we were walking in small streams, which was a little tricky. We went back to the main building and they cut open a coconut for us that was delicious! It was crunchy, sweet and wonderful.
For lunch we went to Well Café for lunch. This was connected to a program that works with local women to provide training and give micro-loans for them to start their own business. They train the to create handicrafts, like baskets and bags, from old paper that is rolled into long thing rolls. It looks like a long straw. The food was delicious. I had hummus with egg, tomato, chickpeas, a cabbage carrot salad, beets, with pickled cauliflower and carrots. We also had a really good hot lemony tea.
The best part of the day was the youth center. This is an area in the cultural sector, designated specifically to Auroville’s youth. The whole place is like a kids dream come true. There are tree houses where people actually live, a giant see-saw, giant structures 50 feet tall to climb on, and pathways between the trees. The area is decorated with painted cars, random artwork, and metal structures. We were obviously impressed and had to play on everything. I think we are going back on Saturday for a pizza dinner.
The red bugs below are called Lovebugs and they were EVERYwhere at the Youth Center. They were all linked up making babies. It was a little obscene. That is how they got their name.
Afterwards we were exhausted and are now hanging out at the US Pavilion listening to music and trying to catch up on our email. Unfortunately when it rains here the power usually goes out, so our internet is down for the moment.