After yesterday’s relaxing time on the rice boat, birdwatching, playing games and reading, the day started abruptly at 4.30am. We were treated to a slight variation on the traditional breakfast – onion in the omelette! Disembarkation followed at 5.30am and we set off in the 35 seater “AC pushback” to Cochin airport. The journey, a mere 50 miles, took the best part of two hours due to diversions, traffic and a profusion of potholes, thanks to the heavy rains that have been falling in Kerala. At the airport, we said goodbye to our tour guide Pramod and met up with Mairi’s dad who had flown from Delhi to fetch her to begin their family holiday in India! Clearly, Mairi will feel completely integrated by the time she gets home. Three more weeks of curry!! Before Mairi left, Miss D was given a book of thank you messages from all the students.
Mindful of the crash at Dubai yesterday, we were expecting a delay and indeed there was, but only by 35 minutes. As the plane lifted off, we bid farewell to India and all the experiences of the last three weeks. We have seen and learned so much, some of it difficult to put into words. We hope that we have been able to make small difference to the Amala children’s lives. Spending time there has certainly made a difference to our own.
The flight soon passed by and after a textbook landing (!!) we proceeded to the departure gate for our flight to Manchester, only to discover that it was delayed by over an hour. We waited patiently for the time to arrive to board the hugely (literally) impressive Airbus 380 (aircraft enthusiasts please note) for the seven and three quarter hour flight.
We landed at Manchester at 20.40 to be informed that some passengers’ luggage had not been loaded at Dubai. It was with a degree of trepidation, therefore, that we passed through immigration and passport control. However, we were not amongst the unfortunate ones and having said goodbye to Syd, who was being collected at the airport, we emerged to see our coach waiting a few metres from the terminal. A few minutes from home, Ms Johnson thanked the students for all that they had achieved and reiterated our hopes of continuing our support for Amala and the children. A fundraising reunion has already been discussed for September 10th. Miss D, on behalf of the students, thanked Ms J and Brett for organising and taking charge of the trip and they were given a card signed by the group. Our arrival at school at midnight was accompanied by a rain shower – welcome back to Richmond! In the mêlée of bags, students and parents, thankyous and goodbyes were exchanged. Three weeks to be remembered, probably, forever.
Sandra, Fiona and Brett
P.S.Thank you to everyone who has read the blog and to those who have left comments. We have enjoyed reading them. Photos of our adventures will be added in due course. Finally, another big thank you to Jef who has been posting on our behalf.