Published: March 14th 2007March 14th 2007
Since I last left you I have traveled over 500 kilometers, hiked maybe 6 miles, biked 8 kilometers...and drowned in exhaustive heat. Welcome to India.
For a girl who once was able to read Gone with the Wind in a single sitting through the Carolina mountains when I was 10, 15 minutes into an overnight 12 hour busride...I felt so queezy I didn't think I would make it. Coming up with the mantra "stomach of steel" and repeating it perhaps 15,000 times over the next 12 hours...I moved to the front of the bus where I watch as our bus driver seemed to derive unusual pleasure at hitting every possible pothole (not hard to find)...and revving the engine as we would idle waiting for passengers to embark and disemark. Around 5:30 AM we finally arrived...and were greeted by the usual medly of husslers and rickshaw drivers swearing the next public bus wasn't for hours. Meandering our way through the terminal (read:Union Square would seem vacant during rush hour) we found that the next bus left in 15 minutes...and off we were to Hampi. Hampi-a lovely quaint town derived entirely for tourists where you will find magnificent stone structures accopanaied with ancient Muslim-Hindu temples. This place is somewhat indescribable. Lots of monkeys abound on the ruins...and they seem to take great pleasure in following you and eating bananas.
After catching a couple of hours of sleep on stable ground, we were off to hike around Hampi. The temples were incredible set against the backdrop of a desert-like setting with the river as an oasis in the background. In our first temple we came across the temple elephant which was rumored to take a bath every morning at 8ish. 4 hours of hiking and a couple of rickshaws later...we hit the town for a drink (read:the only drink I have wanted here was either water or a sprite). By the time dinner had arrived...I must admit to being ill from the thought of another indian meal. Promising to wake up at dawn for a chance at watching the elephant bathe, off we went to sleep.
At seven AM we went to the temple...and spent quality time hanging out with the elephant. I am sure she appreciated the gesture, as apparently we had received ambigous information as to the bathing time...which in fact took place about 2 hours later. However, we were determined not to miss it...so we took a chai in the meantime. At the first sign of life coming from the temple, off we dashed, removing our shoes...and literally running as the elephant emerged. (I am beginning to wonder about my own sanity...as this is about the 5th elephant we have run after in the last 4 days). However...this one was special...and its handler seemed to appreciate our dedication...and let us hang out with him for quite a while. Down by the river as the elephant received a thorough scrubbing, the children who were hanging out came over to play with us.
At this point I would like to mention an interesting phenomenon we have experienced all over India. It seems that not only are foreigners interesting to the locals...but they are also interesting because of their cameras. There is nothing that seems to be more exciting to a local than having their picture taken...even better if they are taking it with you...and then showing it to them after. This seems to be a game I have with virtually every small child under 3 feet...and perhaps every other adult. Luckily, everything in India seems to be picture-worthy...and inevitably I take about 3-4 pictures of everything. Unfortuately, the computers I have found to blog from are INCREDIBLY slow...and therefore I don't have enough time to upload them to my blog. But I promise to do so from Israel.
Anyhow, we had next commited ourselved to renting bikes. I suppose with only 2 months left to train for my ride in Israel...I should take as many opportunities as I can! Off we went through the ruins and town "country" roads. It felt good to move...and use a different method of transportation. I even finally learned how to pedal standing up! (Some of you may not know that I did not even posess the skill of bike riding less than 2 years ago...and the standing up on the bike thing eluded me until about 2 hours ago) But, I was determined...and now I can do it. Truthfully, I didn't have much of a choice...because the bikes didn't have gears.
So, now as I sit in another hot internet cafe...I am looking forward to another 13 hour bus ride...this time to Goa.