After a short and crappy night’s sleep at the roach hotel, we got up early to get an earlier start. It is light by 5:00 AM, but it gets dark around 6:30 PM. Just like cruising, the sun dictates our day. No video today, but I have a lot of pictures to share. Every day there is so much to see.
I started us off this morning. Dave did all the driving the first two days. He says it is because he is enjoying it, but I know better. My driving scares him at home and I think he is trying to avoid a heart attack. The rickshaw is fun to drive and surprisingly easy, but I would think Dave would be utterly exhausted after 12 hours of it! After two hours of driving, I pulled off to let the engine cool and Dave took over again. Haha! He is too cramped in the back to take pictures, so I guess we have our assigned roles now. Speaking of driving, today I was noticing all the different modes of transportation…
The kids are off to school in the morning and the ‘buses’ are loaded. There are a lot of kids walking or riding bikes to school, so I’m thinking these kids’ parents must pay for this service! I think I’d tell my kid to walk.
I mean this is seriously precarious. These kids are used to it and think nothing of it, but I am nervous for them. As soon as the kids notice us, they are either frozen in shock or all smiles and waves. I keep thinking, ‘Nooooo! Hold on!’ But the kids are fun to see.
The adults ride the same way to work or wherever – sitting on the roof rack and, if that is full of cargo or people, on the roof. We see this so much it is almost starting to look normal.
I love seeing all the different modes of transportation. This is a flatbed pedal rickshaw, which is really convenient for carrying cargo or people. I mainly liked this picture for the closeness of the father and son. Looks like quality time to me.
Or maybe it can be used for cargo and people. It looks like this family works together and commutes together. No school uniform for this boy. The caste system is going on strong here.
Others walk to work barefoot carrying their tools and guiding their help. I was surprised to see cows working. Cows are treated very gently here, as made evident by the guy carrying the plow himself instead of strapping it onto a cow.
We made a cooling stop and were instantly surrounded. One man holding a baby came and stood right in front of me. He tried to talk to me but we couldn’t get past the language barrier. So I did the most natural thing: I started flirting with the baby. Next thing I know, he hands her to me and I have a baby on my lap for the rest of the stop. She was so calm and adorable. One of my favorite moments so far!
They even give their cows baths. Seriously, this never gets old.
This cart is being pulled by water buffalo. They look so big and intimidating, but seem to be very compliant and docile.
Trucking is a huge industry here. I thought we had a lot of trucks on the roads in the US. We have nothing on India. They are relatively slow moving, so we pass as many as pass us, but they fill them until they are very top heavy. Therefore, seeing this truck on its side did not surprise us.
We were not surprised to see a family on a motorbike, but we were surprised to see the kid doing the driving. He looked about 10 or 11 years old.
Enough on transportation for now. I took this picture because of the lady in her burqa. We were not surprised to see them, indeed we’ve seen several. But Dave and I marvel at them. To spend your life (public life anyway) undercover just seems so oppressive. Then there’s the heat and humidity. As soon as we stop, we get sweaty and sticky. Under the burqa seems unbearable. I mean, does it really have to be black, too? Can’t it be white at least? I made an uncouth statement about this treatment of women that I will refrain from sharing. We really cannot judge by US standards or behaviors. It is an entirely different life here!
We were determined not to have another day like yesterday. Dave stopped in a small village where I spotted a snack stand. I picked out a whole bag of cookies and chips, just in case we didn’t find hot food. Dave thought it was close enough to time to cool down the engine, so I went on a mission to find real food. I saw some guy stirring a huge pot and made a beeline for it. He lifted a lid and showed me a pot of glorious looking breads – buri? Then he showed me the pot he was stirring. “What is it?” I only got one word, but it was enough, “Vegetable.” Yes! I mimed holding a bowl and he sent me next door and barked something at another guy. The guy pulled out aluminum to go pans with paper lids. I held up two fingers. I took them back to the food guy and filled one with bread and one with some kind of soupy vegetable thing. Next, I glanced around looking for drinks. I couldn’t believe our luck when I spotted a cooler across the street. I bought two ‘sort of cold’ Sprites and returned to Dave with my precious treasures. What score! The vegetable stuff was delicious and our tummies were full and very happy! Two hundred rupies for everything, approximately US $2.85.
We keep passing these bundles that look like asparagus. They grow interspersed with the rice paddies. They are cut, bundled, and stood up to dry.
Then spread out and dried completely. I still don’t have a clue what they are but the smell at this stage is foul! It is strong and putrid. I can’t believe people handle this stuff everyday. When I see it coming, I hold my breath as long as I can. I asked someone what it is or what it’s for and he said it is for making oil. I asked if it was for petrol type oil and he said no that is from Saudi Arabia. But I didn’t learn what kind of oil.
Breakdown #1: flat tire. Dave said, “Something is wrong. I can’t keep it going straight.” We pulled over and this is what we saw. Boo! Luckily, we were given a spare.
So Dave removed the bolts and pushed up the rickshaw. He held it up while I removed the flat tire and put on the spare. He had to lift one more time for me to tighten down the bolts, then we were good to go. Now we need to figure out how to find a tire shop. Oh boy!
At the very next village we saw piles of old truck tires and stopped to ask. Yes, they can fix it. Awesome. Finding a tire repair shop was easy. A young man set to work right away but couldn’t get the tire off. He had to disassemble the rim. I don’t think those bolts had budged in years. They were rusted on pretty solid. Of course, that may happen quickly here, who knows?
He worked at it and worked at it, trying tool after tool. As time passed, an audience started arriving. This was about to become the most popular tire shop in town. It took about 45 minutes to get the inner tube out, patched, and everything put back together. What did he charge? 100 rupies, about US $1.40! You gotta be kidding!
I don’t know where these fibrous strings come from or what they are for, but they are always around the asparagus. They use the road to dry them out and the traffic just goes around. Amazing how this all just works.
Once dry, they bundle them up and haul them off. Rickshaws may not be fast, but they are really quite versatile in their uses.
We are in pineapple central here. Pineapples are for sale everywhere and trucks are loaded with them and hauled off. One person tossed and the guy in the truck caught them. He must have tough hands!
We’ve been making good time now. We made a cooling stop and another runner joined us. It is always nice to see others out and about. Either we are going the right way or we aren’t the only ones making bad decisions.
Spotted a stork out in the fields. Very cooling sighting, though not a very good picture. I’ve seen several different birds I would have liked to photograph, but we are either going 40-50 km/hour or going slow but over potholes. Either way, wildlife photography is impossible.
Here is another cow getting a bath. I took a short video this time, since the picture last time didn’t capture what was going on.
Before long, we were passed by some more runners. These were traveling in a group of three. All three rickshaws must be doing pretty well. We haven’t had any major problems and they are on track with us. We’ve heard stories of people losing their engine, flipping, blowing pistons, and all kinds of other problems. One flat tire and losing time getting lost? We’ll take it! Counting our blessings.
We are still passing agricultural fields. Then we saw this. I’m not sure what to make of it. From a distance it looked like a gypsy camp. Maybe they are a place for workers to rest? Surely these are not homes?!
We are nearing the town we are going to stay at. I research hotels on Google Maps now. I tried all different methods and this is the only reliable one. We know they are not going to be fancy, but we need to find a place before it gets dark. As we neared the town, we started seeing people being taxied about again. Just when we thought we’d seen the fullest auto, we see this. Yes, that Jeep has two people somehow hanging off the side and one person sitting on the hood! One more person on the side and I think it will tip over.
Somehow I am seeing the mosques but not the Buddhist temples and not sure what to look for in Hindu worship.
Back in a small city or town, I saw a lot of stands selling all different kinds of food items, household stuff, and clothing. I snapped this just as a guy was grabbing a chicken to be put in the bicycle basket.
We found the hotel and I waited out front while Dave went to see if we could check in. This cow was cracking me up. Traffic was flying by on both sides, but he just stood there. Not a care in the world.
Apparently Dave had a hard time convincing the hotel manager that we are married. They did not want to give us a room. He flat out told Dave NO! The problem? My passport does not specify that Dave is my husband. Dave explained that we don’t do that in the USA, but “look we have the same name.” He finally convinced them, but then we had to wait for them to take our passports to the police station and have them verified as real. No, they do not get foreigners through these parts. We heard other runners were turned away because they did not accept white people. What?! We later learned that they need special permits to accept foreigners.
The room was slightly better than last night’s, but there were ants all over the floor. Dave did his best to get rid of them. It is clear that they do not clean the floors in these rooms. They also do not clean the toilet seats. I don’t think they use them. Hopefully tomorrow we will get to a bigger city with nicer hotels. Meanwhile, out come the sleeping bags again. So glad we brought them! Mom Rowland, we promise to shake everything out before we come in your house after India!