Hello! I'm Renee Garland. I've been traveling to Asia for the last 13 years in order to escape snowy Maine winters, hoping to live sunny adventures. My company began 11 years ago with $250 worth of chopsticks. I started selling them at craft fairs and festivals all over coastal Maine. Unfortunately, many people didn't know much about chopsticks! (or Asia for that matter.) Nonetheless, I trudged through the festival scene for several years expanding my inventory to clothing, accessories, gifts, and art. The mission has always been the same; to work with individuals, women's coops, and small home-based businesses to help support and encourage small enterprises. I opened my first store in Portland, in 2006 called "Waterlily." It's filled with Waterlily brand handmade gifts produced both from my travels abroad, and by local artists. I still go on buying adventures, 'cause that's what it's all about. . .

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Kullu/Nagaar, India

I was sad to leave McLeoud Ganj, the home of so many Tibetans in exile, and so many great memories for me. (Great momos, great mountains, butter tea, and lots of prayer flags) But we felt like we were on a tight schedule, and in order to have time for Nepal, Thailand, and all that. . .
Jake was a big fan of the famous Russian artist and writer, Nicholas Roerick, and had discovered that there was a museum dedicated to him, and his family in Nagaar, India, seemingly not too far from McLeaoud Ganj. We waited at 9pm at the bus stop outside of Dharamsala, and boarded the local bus.
I think that we didn't know what we were in for. (Us and the 8 year old monk that was clinging to us as well, on his way to Manali.)
It fastly became the most difficult bus ride of my life! The driver was on a suicide mission going so fast. And of course in the Himalayas the roads are hardly in good shape, and non-stop winding around this bend, and that bend. . .
We should have realized what the side of the bus had already been sprayed with. . .

So, Jake being the gentleman, let me lie down in the back after I felt so sick. So, the young monk, and I shared the very back of the bus's bench seat. Jake sat up, and continued to get sicker, and sicker with every lurch. He moved to another seat while I was asleep, I didn't realize that he was hacking up dinner, along with all of the other passengers.
The kid, and I managed to skirt it, but after Jake was so sick, I woke, and gave him the blankets, and seat-bed.
So, I sat there upright, tending to the boy, and the sick boyfriend. Thought it would never end.

We arrived in Nagaar around 4-5am.
Nothing is open at that time of morning,we were lucky to find a taxi driver to wake up. He took us to various hotels, and none would wake for us.
Finally, we arrived at our last option at the top of the road, Aliance Guest House.
We rang, and no sooner did a tall Frenchman in only his underwear, and red henna hair, appear at the door.
WHEW!! Saved.
Aliance Guest House turned out to be far worth the difficult journey.
Gilbert has lived in Nagaar for 25 years. He raised a family there, and runs this guesthouse with superb skill.
The food was the best we'd had in India. And the service made us feel like royalty.
The heater, the strongest.
And come to find out, we were in the closest g.h. to the museum. Which was the real purpose of our visit.
We were able to afford a long sleep in- and rushed over to the Roerick Museum in the afternoon.
I quickly understood what Jake had seen in his art, and purchased several prints, as we took in the sights of his old home, and reliks he'd collected on various expeditions all over Asia.
We stayed in Nagaar for about a week. It was just too nice.
But sadly after the museum, and several fabuluios nature hikes, we felt the urge to move on to our planned trip into Nepal. Back on the bus. . .

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