So much to write about! And I know my last post missed out on a lot of detail already. This stupid keyboard with its keys that keep sticking is also not making this any easier but I’m just glad I get to let you guys back home know what we’ve been up to.
So we left the beautiful and cool Darjeeling on a very overloaded Enfield down a very steep and scary road. But I felt quite safe with William driving. After all, he’s been doing this for over 2 months now. All the way down I was clutching onto our bags. I know it was probably not needed but it made me feel better. We then headed to Siliguri to ship the bike back to Will’s friend in Bangalore. Well, after about 3 hours of driving up and down the main road we discovered the shipping company does not exist anymore. But we found another and soon we were traveling by taxi again. While waiting for William to organise some things I very comfortably sat and watched the rush hour traffic move past me. I could have sat there for hours just watching all the different modes of transport and the craziness of the traffic. The tiniest man would be pulling the biggest load on the seat of his bicycle.
That night we hopped on another train to Varanasi. It seems the first train we went on from Delhi was quite a smart one because each train I’ve been on since then has progressively become less…luxurious. But still quite nice. We could tell Varanasi was a tourist hot spot. Everything was a little more expensive and there were many foreigners around. We stayed on the top floor of a guest house near the Ganga River. It was a little pricey but we had a nice view of the city and rooftop access. We had no power for the first night and day. Let’s just say it was hot and leave it at that.
Our first day in Varanasi was spent driving around town from temple to temple in an auto-rickshaw. We went to a monkey temple with hundreds of monkeys running around the place trying to steal food from the people. Apie was very sad because he had to stay in a locker. There were no bags allowed. We also drove through the campus of the biggest university in Asia (according to our guest house manager). The buildings were very beautiful. It almost felt like I was back on my campus in Stellenbosh what with all the trees and old style buildings. Only a slightly more run-down version. But still very nice. We then tooted through downtown Varanasi to get to The Mother India Temple. The only “official” Ghandi temple in India, once again this was according to our guest house guy. It was quite an amazing place. just one medium-sized room with a big map of India on the ground carved out of marble. It was so interesting to see the difference and sudden incline from sea level to Mt Everest. One doesn’t realise how steep the Himalayas are, not to mention how high.
We also visited the Silk Route and watched as they dyed and wove the most beautiful silk cloths and sari’s. We soon realised that all these people, the taxi driver who picked us up at the train station, the guest house guy, the rickshaw driver, the silk man and later a curry and essential oils dude, are all connected and get commission from each other depending on how much we spend at each place. A very clever plan but in the end you feel very obliged to buy things at certain places. Well, we fell for it and both William and I bought some things at the silk factory after the man nearly showcased his whole stock to us. I’ve never seen such stunning cloths in my life. And the price wasn’t too horrendous. That evening we went for a very relaxing boat ride along the Ganga. This was much-needed after the heat, dust and craziness of the city and temples. From the river we could see the burning ceremony where 3 or 4 big fires are lit on the river banks. Families then come and burn their recently deceased relatives. Further down the river we stopped and watched a candle praying ceremony. Many people gather at the river bank and watch as priests do a beautiful “dance” with various candles, incense and flower petals. The mosquitoes on the other hand were EVERYWHERE. But luckily they were rather behaving like flies and not really biting.
The next day was not so eventful or fun, for the both of us. I had my first sick day. I thought I’d done pretty well till then. But, the day was spent in bed with poor William tending to my every need. Love you babe!! Luckily it was just a 24 hour bug and though I didn’t eat anything that whole day I felt much better the next morning. That evening we bid farewell to the beautiful riverside city of Varanasi and got on yet another train headed for Goa. It took 38 hours to reach Goa. It sounds horrible but it actually wasn’t that bad. We met the nicest Indian family on the train and soon became good friends. We played cards and they gave us delicious home-made meals.
And now because Kirsten is so incapacitated by the following event I will now continue the saga.
So we were a mere 10 minutes from our destination. We had had a good nights rest and were excited to exit the train, finally able to discover a nice patch of tropical beach in the lovely city/state of Goa. I was passing the time by taking a little catnap when a teary-eyed Kirsten rushed to me for consolation. I asked her what was wrong and sobbing she told me her camera was lost. Immediately I sat up, thinking I would have to begin an angry search for a petty thief. But then I heard the telling elements of the tale. Kirsten, ironically thinking that her camera would be more safe on her rope belt which ties her pants up, had dropped her camera in the train toilet in her haste for a much-needed pee.
Now, being that it’s a waterproof camera, most would suggest soiling your hand for a moment and simply retrieving the apparatus. This would be an undeniable possibility if we were on any other but the Indian train system. An Indian train toilet, consists of a metal platform with two textured foot pads (for grip) and a hole in the middle of a diameter of about 25 centimeters which then extends down a tube of the same diameter where all refuse splatters against the rails. It is thus that Kirsten’s camera met it’s demise and was unceremoniously abandoned among the second-hand curry, forlornly lost on the tracks.
So today, instead of a nice beer on the beach, instead of a cool swim in the ocean, we will be walking in the hot sun searching amongst the great heaps of rubbish and poo for Kirsten’s poor camera. But as I told Kirsten, a day under any circumstances with her is a good day in my book. I’d rather be walking through the scrags of society with her, than alone on a tropical beach 😀
I have high hopes that we’ll find it and be relaxing on the beach by this evening 🙂