Kochi - Palakkad (continued)
Once we hit mainland we all agreed that Danny would start the driving since he was the most comfortable and we began our journey winding through the streets of India. Since we really wanted to go inland, we thought we would make it as far as we could the 1st day and around 4 pm start looking for a city to spend the night.
Joanna mapped out all the cities on this portion of the trip at about 45 mins away from each other. This was really helpful because it was really the only way we knew whether to keep moving or stop for the night.
And, yes, as everyone describes, India is extremely poor! Everywhere you look… At this point, we have not even begun to see the have and the have-nots… It is just the have-nots... The poverty is so overwhelming that I think at some point your mind just begins to overlook it. We had brought ball caps and pencils to give the children along this journey. I knew to expect some type of gratitude for this gesture. But it was at another level that these gifts were being received. These young children were so happy receive these gifts. And soon we would be surrounded by tons of kids, as word spread fast. I am so glad we decided to take something.
As we began winding up the roads, the faces we received driving in this pimped out rickshaw were classic! Most people were very happy to see us driving by, waving, cheering, giving us compliments…. Then you had those that just looked at us like we were completely crazy, and then you had the more conservative types that you could tell were not happy that we were here at all. This mixture of different attitudes absolutely kept us on our toes at all times on how to act or what to say.
One of the people that we had met on this journey described his home country of India as a Friendly Mess. I cannot think of a better term for this place. For the most part, everyone is absolutely helpful and would do anything to make sure your trip is going well. They also are very fond of their country and really wanting you to tell them how wonderful it is…
On our way into the mountains of the Western Ghats, things began to get more and more rural. The homes and buildings began to turn more into shacks and shanties and even the roadside convenience stores disappeared to now just shanties selling water or chai without any type of electricity (so everything was warm - good for chai, bad for water).
We pulled off to the side of the road to fill up and I heard our team say “Look, look, an elephant!" Sure enough, here comes probably the largest elephant I have ever seen, walking up the highway. Only led by a little man on the top, it appeared to be carrying a log of some sort in its mouth and tusks. This thing was huge. It must have been at least 17 feet tall. Its legs were chained - I assume to make sure it didn’t run off. As it walked by you, it absolutely looked at you in the eye. I am not sure about my other team members, but I was absolutely astonished by this enormous creature!
We got back into our rickshaw and kept driving on, searching for a larger town to rest for the night.
One of bloggers in New York City on Instagram does a series called the faces of New York City. As I meet these characters in India and they try their best to tell us who they are and try to figure out who we are, I am completely reminded of this NYC blogger. We could absolutely do something like that here called the Faces of India. I have been making an effort over the last few days to find such faces that really, really tell a story in their look. I will post these items as they come up.
All of the sudden, we passed horns blowing into the air and what appears to be some sort of street festival. We stop our rides to venture out to see what the commotion could be. Since there is a heavy Islamic presence in the state we are currently in, Joanna decides to stay back as I grab my camera and walk into the crowd. About 15 men, blowing huge circle horns, are playing sounding very much like a hurt deer. I understand that may not be the best descriptive word for this horn but really it did sound bad…. As they notice me taking pictures they motion for me to come closer. It is obvious they are very proud of this activity and love that a foreigner is taking interest. After a few minutes of filming they bring my right into the middle of the drums and all of them now are performing for me. The crowd of possibly 50-70 people are really appreciating that we are there and are coming up to introduce themselves. Then once again the faces of India begins. Young children are led up to me so I can also take their picture. Their parents knowing how beautiful they are, loving the idea that they are being photographed. I run back to get Joanna and Danny. This crowd has proved to be extremely welcoming and are loving the idea that we are there.
We finally found our hotel this evening. As we drove up it looked much like a hotel we would hav seen in Saudi. All marble walls and floors. They brought in our rickshaws and locked them up for the evening. After we had the best $3.00 dinner that I think any of us had ever had (Mushroom Rice, Vegetable Curry, Dal, bread etc…), we got ready to spend the night for only $35.00.