Randomly we discover a possibility to join a tour into the Sundarbans, an area near Kolkata with the world biggest mangrove forest and home of the famous royal bengal tiger. Cause the tour is taking three days we can stop looking for another accomodation in Kolkata. The next nights we are going to stay in an eco village, sleeping in bamboo and clay cottages inside the Sundarbans and we will go on Safari in the daytime. About 9 people are picked up at the tour office in Kolkata 8 AM in the morning. We are a nice group consiting of people from other parts of India and other countrys like USA and New Zealand. To reach the eco village we drive out of Kolkata, change into a boat, take a motorrikscha and a boat again. The trip itself is quite interesting. We try our first fresh coconut and we are quite surprised about the taste. Its not like we would expect it to be, sweet and intensive, but its not like that and right now we are not sure if we really like it. Maybe unfortunately we are more used to that artificial stuff so far 🙂
We arive in the village in the early afternoon. After having lunch, where the village people offer curry and fresh fish, everybody goes on a walk around the eco village. Every friday the locals all around are spending the afternoon on a place nearby where the traditional cock fight is happening. It’s difficult for me to understand cause it looks quite violent and more like cruelty to animals, but it seems to be important for them. At least the cok that has lost will be eaten by the owner of the winning cok.
In the evening “the boatsmen” is carrying us deep into the mangrove forest. As we put our hands into the water while rowing the plancton is glowing like lots of stars and an indian musician couple that was joining the boatride is singing spontaneously. A very special moment. The sky full of stars above us, even shooting stars.
The safari tour itself through the forest of the bengal tiger starts early on the next morning. The air is little colder, other ships hide within the fog and create a mysthic atmosphere. But it doesn’t take long until the sun comes up and the air is getting clear. Tensly we look on the water and into the mangroves riverside. It’s interesting how you feel if you know that a tiger may be anywhere out there. A feeling something between excitement and fear which increases after we were told that these tigers are maneaters….! But the tigers are hiding that day. There are crocodiles, deers, lots of birds and even a white bellied sea eagle. We spend the whole day sitting on the pike of the boat, the soft wind floating around our head, the colours changing as the sun rises and falls.
Cause we like the eco village with its nice people the inviting cottages, the hammock terrace and the tasty food a lot we decide to stay longer and volunteer a few days. So the next day we start to paint one of the boats and take part on the daily life of the locals living here. Three other indian volunteers stay here too two of them making beautyful artwork and one writing an article about the village. They become lovely inspirating friends and we meet two of them later in Kolkata again.
Sometimes Seven helps in the kitchen. He slaughters his first chicken and prepares it for dinner. He is really proud of eating own slaughtered meat.
Unfortunately while working on the boat our saw is getting lost. Maybe somebody took it or even stole it. But you need to be aware that these kind of tools, because they are quite valuable for them. So we should have taken care better as they need to work with very simple stuff. Maybe now its useful for one of the people there. That makes us feel little better about the loss, alltough, of course, it was very helpful for us too.
One day the village people ask Seven to help carrying a boat engine into one of the boats. It’s a four cylinder diesel engine and really huge. All the tools needed are a long plank, two thick bamboo sticks and some rope. Seven and eleven other men are pushing and pulling this huge piece of steel into the engine room. Unbelievable that it works out and nobody is hurt.
Spending time in the eco village makes us feel closer to nature. And we experience that it really is like that, water snakes, a big land snake, lizards, birds and one night with a rat in our cottage. Of course, this was not the roommate I was looking for and the night became a little anxiously especially for me. After 9 days volunteering we need to leave. The village people want us to come back and again its hard to say goodbye. Before we leave we take a photo under the tiger striped board we made for the main entry. It’s now welcoming all the people coming to the eco village.