‘Twas the Night Before Taj – May 23rd

‘Twas the night before Taj

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Good morning Tiger Den Resort! This beautiful property is where we woke up this morning at 5 AM and took our last stroll through the resort’s rose gardens.

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The first item on today’s agenda was our fourth and final trip to Ranthambore National Park for a safari ride. We ventured into zone five of the park in the large group jeep in hopes of seeing a tiger in the same place we had spotted one Wednesday afternoon. Unfortunately, we did not see one tiger during our last safari ride…but we did see three! About an hour into the safari ride these three tigers were laying all together about 200 yards away in the shade during early morning. It is important to note that this was Sarah’s first tiger spotting! These three majestic animals are 22 months old and have been surviving on their own for the past 20 months. Although the national park is securely guarded to protect the wildlife, it is assumed that their mother was poached. We had the opportunity to watch them lay in the shade for about 20 minutes…loving every minute of it! We were giddy the entire ride back to the resort.

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After getting back from the safari, packing our bags, and showering we hit the road (something we are getting quite familiar with!) headed for the Taj Mahal in Agra. Half way through our 7.5 hour drive we stopped at a roadside hotel for some authentic Indian cuisine.

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During our bus ride we had A LOT of time to gaze out the window. Unfortunately we did not get much sleep due to the constant rocking of the bus as it coasted over bumps in the road. While there were many interesting things to see, a few stood out. Primarily, we saw many men, women, and children working in the fields tending to their crops and animals. Keep in mind that we witnessed this during the hottest time of the afternoon, which was nearly 108 degrees. We also saw a location where bricks were being made in mass amounts. Multiple smoking chimneys evidenced this as they made the bricks.

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Another stop we made along the way to Agra was Desert City – Fatehpur Sikari. Akbar, a Mogal emperor, founded this city. Akbar ruled from 1571-1585. In addition to seeing this beautiful palace, another thing many of us noticed was how many young children were on the street begging and trying to sell goods for their families. This has really changed our conception of what defines childhood. In the United States, children are seen as innocent beings that should be protected at all costs. Here children are independent and expected to sell and do hard labor from an extremely young age.

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Finally, around 8 PM we arrived at Howard Plaza Hotel here in Agra. With room service, hot showers, and a beautiful chandelier hanging in the entrance, it is safe to say that we are enjoying our down time at the hotel. In fact, Ali and Sarah were greeted by a family of monkeys knocking on their window upon arrival. You don’t see that in Nebraska!

Tomorrow morning we are waking up at 5 AM for one of the many highlights of our trip – sunrise at the Taj Mahal. We can’t wait to share all of our pictures with you in tomorrow’s blog! Bye for now. We have to wake up bright and early to see the Taj Mahal.

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Xob (hugs, kisses, and backrubs) Ali and Alex

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