Just one week after the Nagamangala, India team returned home after their mission, the Karaikal team began their adventure to India. Most of the team met in San Francisco, although we picked up members in Dubai and Chennai as we traveled around the world, or, in our particular case, over the world. Our plane left San Francisco and flew directly north coming within five degrees of the north pole before flying over Russia and Iran to land in Dubai.
Mission Director Tom Fox briefs the team on what we could expect for the trip and what safety precautions we needed to take. The medical folks discussed the steps we needed to take to stay healthy and capable of fulfilling our mission.
Getting to Karaikal isn't a simple process. The team flew over 15 hours from San Francisco landing in Dubai in the middle of the night. After a short layover, the team flew on to Chennai, India to clear customs and load our equipment onto a bus and truck for the six hour trip by road to Karaikal on the southeast coast of India. By the time we arrived at the Paris International Hotel in Karaikal, some members had been traveling more than 48 hours.
Getting anywhere with all the medical equipment is never an easy task. The team is allowed one checked bag so that the rest of the luggage is medical equipment. "What you need, you bring with you." Just the gear and baggage filled one truck.
A very warm welcome from the Rotary Club of Karaikal awaited our team.
India can be a shock to the system. The moment you leave the airport all five senses go into overload. The sights, the smells, the constant honking of horns, and the crush of people and animals reminds you that things truly are different here. There is stark poverty and yet there is great beauty in the splashes of color and the faces of the people. Seven hours on the bus gave us ample time to soak in the sights and sounds that are India.
The team arrives tired from almost two days of travel but eager to get started.
Once we arrived in Karakail it didn't take long to get to work with the business of Saving Smiles and Changing Lives. After a very brief rest, the team traveled to the hospital to begin putting together the plan for the intake clinic the following day.