It may be after the fact now, but I recorded these moments along the way…
Dave finally changed his pants. He wore the same pants three days in a row! I know they are comfortable, but thank you for changing, Dave. Some of the teams wore themed costumes like Alice in Wonderland and mechanics and are wearing the same clothes every day without washing them until after they finish. Frankly, at that point they should just be burned. Dave was getting dangerously close to walking if he wasn’t going to change his clothes!
Last night we found a great hotel: The Fame Hotel in Berhampore. Compared to the roach and ant hotels, it was the Ritz Carlton. The room was so clean we didn’t use our sleeping bags. The restaurant was really good with Dave’s favorite naan so far. The air conditioning worked great and we got a good night’s sleep.
We were really worried, though, because Berhampore was by far the dirtiest city we experienced in India. People wore cloths over their mouths to keep from breathing in all the dirt in the air and we followed suit. The roadside shops covered their goods with cloths to keep the dirt out, so if we wanted to buy something we would have to ask to see what each place had. The plants were being suffocated by all the dirt on their leaves, I mean they are completely and thickly covered. India definitely has an air pollution problem, but no other area in India even came close to being this dirty. The hotel was just out side the main part of the city next to a river and it was just far enough to be clean and quiet. Score!
I briefly mentioned that we had our first accident in the last blog. Here’s what happened: While we were stopped in a traffic jam, the bicyclists and motorcyclists decided not to wait and squeezed through anywhere they came close to fitting. A bicyclist squeezed between us and a fence and curb on the side of the road. He ran over a pineapple top and his front wheel slid off, tossing him sideways. It could have thrown him into traffic had we been moving. Instead, he almost landed in Dave’s lap. He smacked into the frame around the windshield and he caught hold of the rickshaw to keep from falling. We probably saved his life by being there. We’ll take this accident as good luck for being there to ‘catch’ him. Karma points.
We cringe when we see these signs now. It means we are losing the ‘good’ road and getting a bad one, or that we are losing the bad one and getting a horrible one. These diversions (as they are called in India) are so weird, there is no warning to the other side that oncoming traffic is now going to share their lanes. When we are the first to merge over after a gap in traffic, I hold my breath until I see the traffic start to move over and make room for us. You could never get away with this in the states!
This is just a bad one. They get much, much worse. Our little girl is holding together well, though, even without four-wheel drive, which should be a necessity in India.
This market was so crowded, we couldn’t see what they had for sale. I saw people carrying away vegetables, so I assume this was a very popular fresh market. No canned or frozen vegetables here. These people really know how to eat! The food is so fresh and delicious. I want to bring a cook back to the boat with us, so we can continue eating Indian food long after we leave. But Dave won’t let me. Boo!
Traffic was very heavy and this guy saw me taking pictures and posed for me. Too much traffic kept going between us, then people stopped in front of him to look at me. By the time they moved a little, we were moving again and I nearly missed the shot entirely. He held the pose for so long. He must have really wanted his picture taken. I thought he was really cute, but I felt sorry for the poor chicken.
I should have taken a video. It was funny to watch the chickens bounce in the crate. Again, I felt bad for the chickens, but the synchronized bounce was comical and they took it so calmly.
I can’t imagine the leaves on top of a pineapple being very good eating, but this little calf was giving it a go. If it worked out, there was no shortage of food. By the way, the pineapple in Shillong is the best I have ever tasted. It is reputed to be the best in the world. It is extremely sweet and the flavor is slightly different than we are used to. Honestly, I have to concur. If only I could have made piña coladas with them!
Our gas tank holds 5 to 7 liters and we do not have a fuel gauge. Although it made all the Runners nervous at first, it really is no big deal. They gave us a 5 liter jerry can, so we can mix the two stroke oil into the gas before pouring it into the tank. So we drive until the rickshaw runs out of gas and hope it doesn’t die at an inconvenient time – which so far only happened once. We were passing a big truck and a bus was passing us. We were a rickshaw sandwich without the sauce. Dave just put it into neutral and coasted until the truck went by then made a beeline for the side of the road. Tragedy averted. Here we ran out of gas within view of a gas station.
This place was right next to the gas station. I liked their bamboo bridge, but it seemed so random. There is no creek or anything (at least not while we were there), just a small ditch.
Another runner showed up right behind us. Sometimes we go for long stretches without seeing any other runners, so it is nice to chat for a bit when we do. We see-sawed with this team nearly the whole way.
Luckily for these guys, the Auto Club showed up. No, we haven’t had to be towed yet. Knock on wood. We heard someone else had to load their rickshaw into a truck and have it hauled to a mechanic. They are stuck in Siliguri and are now 2-3 days behind the pack. We are less than a day behind, but making very slow progress.
I like his fashion statement: bold, but cool and versatile, functional but fashionable. Amazingly, most people wear no shoes or only cheap rubber flip fops and yet they walk for miles and miles.
This village has an interesting blend of building types. I think there is mud, concrete and brick, some with thatched roofs.
These guys were pulling long trains of plants behind them. I think maybe it is the ‘asparagus’ plants. I just kept thinking about all the critters beneath the water. When I waded through the mangroves in Thailand, I felt the critters bumping against my legs. It was rather freaky but nothing hurt me. I guess it is the same here.
These people squat down in the water until it touches their chin and pull up plants from beneath the surface. I tried to video them, but they saw me and stopped working to stare. At least we find each other equally interesting.
These people are bundling the plants to be carried out. It is like an assembly line, everyone with a particular job. Such hard work! At all levels the Indian people are very hard working and have a work ethic to be proud of. Dave agrees that this work ethic is brought with them when they leave India to work in the states. The more we see and learn here, the more impressed we are with India. Can we live here? Maybe in a carefully chosen location, but I would not call it paradise.