Monkeys, mountains, and Tibetan momo - after a long overnight bus ride the 3 Kodai-bound Oles (Erin, Susan, and John) arrived in paradise! We arrived in Kodai last week, and quickly fell in love with it here! After the suffocating heat of Chennai, the cool, breezy (and at night somewhat frigid) temperatures of Kodai are a welcome relief. We have had to dig out all the warm clothes that we brought, and also visit some local shops to stock up on 1980's-esque sweaters. The local love of colorful sweaters may have already rubbed off on us, but we are staunchly holding out against the pressure to wear camoflage earmuffs.
We have greatly enjoyed exploring the town over the last few days and also meeting the PHCC staff that we will be working with for the next 5 weeks. The past few days have been busy touring the area and looking for project ideas. We visited coffee plantations, shola forests, grasslands, and a 2000 year old farming village! The Palni Hills are absolutely beautiful - when you can see them. The monsoons are coming and we have had some serious rain while we've been here! Despite the rain though we are getting a feel for the unique beauty of the area and an appreciation for the incredible biodiversity of the region. During our hike yesterday we saw over 4 dozen different plant species (all pointed out by Praba, our PHCC botanist friend) in a few hours! It was really quite incredible. We've also had some sweet wildlife sightings while we've been here - more bonnet macaques than we can count, Indian bison, Nilgiri langur, rare birds, and a LOT of cows. Over the next few days we are going to be starting our research projects - more to come on those details! (when we figure them out...)
Other than learning about the Palni Hills ecosystem we've been exploring the town and enjoying Kodai's fine culinary specialties - honey, chocolate, and eucalyptus oil. Well, the last one you can't eat. But the other two you can! And we have...along with visits to our favorite pastry shop, Daily Bread. Is it bad that the owner knows us after only a week here? That combined with the copious amounts of chai/"coffee" that we are drinking will probably send us into diabetic shock any day now...
We are missing our other oles...come visit us soon!