With a lifetime of adventure packed into four short days, it is almost impossible to remember all the amazing and challenging encounters we have experienced, especially as we are absolutely exhausted! One thing is for sure, this is shaping up to be the adventure of a lifetime, and despite our vehicular challenges, we have managed to overcome countless metaphoric (and literal) speed bumps, finding ourselves safe and well in the gorgeous town of Udaipur, Rajasthan.
So, how have the last four days been?
We have run out of gas, well, enough times to know better, but thankfully only from the tank – we have a huge supply of extra gas (and the oil that must be mixed with it) that Matt of The Adventurists told us was “far too much.” Perhaps we over-did it with two, 20L jerry cans of extra petrol, but since one sprung a leak and we had to downgrade to one, we’re glad we were super cautious!
On day one we drove from Jaisalmer to Barmer, though I use the term ‘drove’ very loosely. We were towed into town for the last 20km or so, after ‘Sunny’ (that is our rickshaw’s name) decided she didn’t want to go any further. Without the help of the amazing team, Holy Cowabunga, we may still be sitting on the side of the highway outside of Barmer. They towed us, in the dark, without so much as a grumble, even though they could have been kicking back with a beer hours earlier if they had carried on without us.
We cannot thank those guys enough!
The following morning, our hotel rang the ‘coolest guy in Barmer’ (above, in the red shirt), who got Sunny started and led us to the mechanic, who happened to be the ‘oldest guy in Barmer’ (above, wearing Hannah’s trucker cap).
But as much as we enjoyed the surprises of Barmer, it was time to push on.
Passing through the desert villages of Rajasthan, women dressed in technicolor saris carried water pots and other supplies on their heads, gliding gracefully over the dunes towards clusters of adobe huts. Top-heavy men with enormous turbans and spindly legs led camels along desert paths.
We stopped at a fresh water well and met some beautiful people that were happy for us to take photos of them and their gorgeous camel.
We carried on to a small town with the intention of finding a room for the night, only we were immediately mobbed by hoards of young men, whose sense of personal space (or lack thereof) combined with raging hormones caused us to make a fast getaway from a place that shall forever be remembered as “Crazy Town.”
These were cute kids that mobbed us at a chai stop (they were much cuter than the men!)
We made it to a tiny village well after night-fall, undecided whether to push on or not, since that place too, was alarmingly devoid of women. We stopped for chai and a bite to eat at the first restaurant we could find, which happened to be run by the kindest group of men who quietly and intuitively fed us and made up our beds for the night.
Yes, that is actually Hannah under there!
The arrangement may have been a little unorthodox, but we felt so completely safe there, even though we slept outside on camp-beds in a place we didn’t know the name of. One of the men slept on a bed at the foot of ours, keeping watch over us and our belongings for the night. Words cannot describe how grateful we are to those kind fellows, who wouldn’t even accept a tip the following morning.
The sight of us! (All rugged up the following morning – it was freezing!!)
On day three we hit the road early, headed towards Udaipur, knowing we wouldn’t make it all the way in one day. Sunny drove like absolute dream, taking us past some amazing sights (like this gigantic Shiva statue), through pretty villages and fertile mountains. She even took us to beautiful palace for lunch, where we sipped cool drinks and tucked into club sandwiches, our night of sleeping out in the cold all but a distant memory…
We didn’t make it to Udaipur that night, though Kim did a stellar job of driving uphill in the dark (we know, we know, we won’t be making a habit of it!) to a small road-side guesthouse. It may not have been a palace, but the welcome was just as warm, especially since we were three-to-a-bed! Yep, we’re getting pretty cozy…
Our short drive today took us into the chaos of Udaipur city, where Kim negotiated the manic streets like a pro. We now sit at a lakeside restaurant across from our lovely guest house, about to have dinner .
The Taj Palace Hotel (i.e NOT our guest house)
I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of the unbelievable experiences we have had, and the people who have been placed in our path to help us along on our journey.
Like the men who stopped their enormous truck to help us road-side (and ended up sucking fuel through the lines to get us going again), or the man who chased us down on his motorcycle to return my backpack that I left at his tiny shop, refusing any reward. Or, the topper of them all, the man who turned my mobile phone in to the police when it slipped off my lap just hours ago during a minor scrape with a parked motorcycle.
I thought it was gone forever (along with our only GPS!), until Hannah and Kim returned to ‘the scene’, and were led directly to it at the local police station. Again, the man who handed in the $400 device wanted nothing but a ‘thankyou’ in return.
India has been kind to us. The beauty we have witnessed whizzing past our eyes has definitely made its way into our hearts, surprising us at every turn with a randomness that seems unreal. Only, this is India – dirty, crazy, chaotic, heart-breakingly beautiful India, and we are driving through her in a bright orange, flower-clad auto-rickshaw.
So I guess, it all makes perfect sense.
Thank you to everyone who has helped us raise over US$4,300 for frank Water!! We are so grateful for your generosity and support.