Currently, relaxing in our guesthouse in Agra, India (update: it’s now Wednesday June 15 and we are in Sawai Modaphur sitting outside a guesthouse using the wifi. Hoping to get up to date soon)! We made it! Let me tell you how we got here because this has to have been the craziest 24 hrs of travel we’ve ever had. It seriously rivals that 36hr bus ride to Vietnam… And that was insane! Let’s go back to our hotel in Abu Dhabi where we just woke up from a fairly good nights sleep…
We got up early as we had planned to check out this really cool mosque before we left town. We decided it would be best to leave our bags at the hotel and come back since we were taking the bus. We headed to the bus stop and waited quite a while until one finally showed up. It was the exact bus we needed, but… It was completely packed with people. I thought “there is no way I’m getting on this bus! I’ll die!” Ethan finally forced his way on and pulled me on as well. It was completely, 100% packed with sweaty stinky bodies and if you know me at all, you know how I feel about 1. Being in large crowds 2. Being confined in small and hot spaces. It was sheer torture. My personal hell. And of course, I forgot my personal fan back at the hotel! Doh! It was all I could do to not pass out or burst into tears.
After stopping at what seemed like every single stop in the city, the bus finally started to clear out. I was able to find a seat and calm down a bit. So we are riding along and the mosque finally comes into view. It’s huge and impossible to miss. We passed one stop that was relatively close, but still would have been a hike so we decided since we had stopped about every 100 yards so far that there would be another stop closer. Wrong!! The bus drove right on by the mosque and we watched it fade away as the bus entered the highway. The highway!! Crap! We frantically pushed the button to tell the driver to stop and he finally did at a pull off, along the the highway. We got out and were seemingly stranded several miles from the city and the mosque in the 100 degree heat.
We argued about what to do, but ultimately ended up flagging down a taxi. He drove us right up to the mosque and instructed us on how to get in and where to get another taxi back to the hotel. We were on a tight schedule and really didn’t have time for any more shenanigans with the bus. We headed into the mosque and I knew that I would have to wear long sleeves and a head scarf to get inside. They guided us through security and then to the are where you change. Well, I completely forgot that I had brought my zip hoodie and they made me a wear a full length, black get up (forgetting what it’s called at the moment) and I used my own scarf on my head.
I am perfectly OK with adhereing to whatever rules or customs needed, but this was something else. Had it been 40 degrees cooler, I think I actually would have enjoyed it. But it was 100 degrees, and I wanted to die. Luckily, the inside of the mosque was air conditioned and offered a huge relief from the heat. The inside was beautiful and houses three enormous crystal chandeliers that were seriously sparkly. We walked passed stacks of Qurans, boxes of tissues and hoards of little bottles of water for worship time. The attention to detail was impressive and even the entry and exit doors were works of art.
We took a few more pictures on our way out, then I happily returned my outfit. We grabbed a cab, which is interesting because it was a woman driving and apprently, if Ethan hadn’t been with me he would have had to ride with a male driver. We are constantly intrigued by and curious about this way of life. Once back at the hotel, we packed and were able to use the Internet to hail an Uber taxi. Ethan found a discount code and our ride ended up being free! Holla!
Our flight was about 3 hours and we dozed in and out of sleep and tried to prepare ourselves for what was bound to be an interesting time in India! This was only the beginning of our 24hr fiasco!