We made it to Darjeeling!
With box lunches and bags in hand, we left Varanasi by train heading to Kolkata where we were to catch a flight the following day. After a two hour delay, we finally got settled on board and the minute Eric put on his headphones and tuned out I was approached by a lady in her 60s who proceeded to tell me her family (Sikhs) have been having an hour long argument as to whether I was part Indian. They all shook their heads and said, "Your eyes and hair mean you could be a little Indian, but not him (pointing at Eric)." I proceeded to tell them of both our heritages and they told me of their one white relative who seemed to be the golden child of their family, a beautiful Russian woman who married her son. Eventually the neice and nephew of her family started eavesdropping and rushed over when they heard America. Come to find out, they have family in CA who own a restaurant down the street from us. Small world.
We arrived to Kolkata with just enough time to grab a good meal and head to the airport where we caught our SpiceJet flight to Bagadora. Flight landed safely and we arrange for a Jeep to take us on the long (and bumpy) 3 hour journey in to the foothills. All seemed well until the hired driver at the legitimate taxi counter tried to rip Eric off. Eric grabbed him by the shirt collar, pushed him against his Jeep and told him that he was going to "crush his f-ing skull" for trying to rip us off. After a bit of commotion amongst us and 15 other hired drivers, a new one was appointed and we continued on our way. (For those who have seen Eric in action, I will be happy to share the entire story next time we see you.)
Darjeeling, finally. No cows. No garbage on the streets. No salespeople hassling you. Just calm Tibetan, Nepalese Buddhists in a serene mountaintop setting. We love Darjeeling.
Visited Tenzing Norgay's museum, a zoo where we got up close to leopards and met a few westerners with whom we shared some excellent tea. So far views of Everst are shrouded in fog but we're hoping to snap a few pictures tomorrow around 5 am.