In for the long haul
3,000 km from Manali to Mumbai, Goa, then Hampi in south-central India. After 5 1/2 months in the mountains, we are pleased as punch with our little wooden house by the water's edge and we end up staying too long, to the point where our visas are about to expire! We need six more months to get to the south. Pakistan doesn't officially grant visas for more than 2 months so we are forced to go to Nepal. We go down to Delhi via Chandigarh, a "new" city, built entirely according to plans created by the celebrated French architect Le Corbusier. With only two days remaining on our visas, we have no coice but to take trains and buses to make a round-trip to Nepal, Kathmandu. The atmosphere is different, but we'll come back later...by bicycle.
A team of Sadhus Those famous eyes
We take advantage of our passage in Nepal to begin negotiating our authorizations to travel unaccompanied through Tibet. We return to Dehli by train, with a two day stop in the infamous Varanasi (Benares), the most holy city in India. Hindus come here to be purified and to die.
Back in Delhi, we have to wait ten days for a part to repair my bike, then we head straight south to Rajasthan, a colorful region with a vivid past, but it is a very poor and arid area as well. We already posted our best photos with the last text, so we'll keep it short this time.
Purification in Pushkar Jaipur Architecture
Before an afternoon arrival in Mumbai, we met up with Claude Marthaler and Nathalie in Gujarat.
Just like in Central Park?
We ring in the new year in Mumbai. The Indians are all down in the streets; to say we can barely move is an understatement. We didn't realize midnight had passed because no one hugs or kisses anyone! Ancient and modern architecture overlap in this megalopolis.
University of Mumbai
Before leaving for Goa, we have to get the computer fixed yet again. Over the course of 600 kilometers, the road is small, dangerous, and crowded but if needed, we can call for help!
A telephone tied to a tree trunk
We have left one world to join another. We are now resting on the beaches close to the north of Goa in the village of Sheruda. It is truly magnificent. In the middle of a palm grove, we put our bags down in one of five little huts made of woven palm leaves. Our hosts give us a wonderfully warm welcome.
Her name is Komal
Breakfast in our sarongs with the big blue before us. For obvious reasons you need to be a romantic to understand the appeal :-) The 3 kilometers of fine sand beach is just 50 meters away, the water is warm and the sunsets are breathtaking. Every morning (better than any National Geographic documentary!), we watch "live" as the fishermen lay their nets out in a large arc in the sea. On the shore a handful of men slowly draw the nets in towards the beach. As the half-moon of the net shrinks, the fish start to panic and jump wildly as five excited sea eagles plunge down on their breakfast, talons out. In the background, a few meters away, a dozen or so dolphins do backflips and somersaults, producing a life-sized show for us on the big screen of life. In admiration we watch as we sip our tea and eat fresh fruit. Life is good...
Fishermen in Sheruda The Market in Sheruda
On January 29th our webmaster, Renaud, arrives with his bicycle to ride with us for three weeks; he wants to add up the kilometers.
We follow the peaceful and pretty Goan coast. Too bad our arrival in Morjim is amid a riot of multi-color plastic!
We put down our bikes in the heart of a medium-sized city and, wanting to help us, a nosy group of people gathers. There are no hotels or other lodgings to be had; what to do other than ride the wave of fate? Suddenly, a fist flies into someone's face in the crowd. The victim doesn't respond in kind. I glare at the aggressor and then ignore him. The others chat together for a while, then come to a decision and give us an address 2 km away, a government house that will be able to put us up. As it is very dark now, we ask a charming young man the way. Luckily, he accompanies us as we never would have found it otherwise. We talk and explain and finally realize that the address we have is no good. In this dark night, we are worried and disappointed. The young man suggests we follow him to the courtyard of the company where he works and we pitch our tent. His family comes to introduce themselves; with them is a neighbor who is an English-speaking student. We are exhausted and so refuse their invitation to spend the evening with them.
The next day we don't sleep in a courtyard but, rather, in a barn among the sacks of grain. A busybody peers at us through the window bars. From the outside a wood fire heats a recipient that provides water in the little shed that we use as a bathroom. We spent two lovely nights here.
We arrive in Hampi, site of Vijayanagar, the fascinating former capital of a vast Hindu empire. The site sits peacefully on the banks of the Tungabhadra River.
No one seemed able to explain to us why the boats here are round and the rowers only have one paddle. And, of course, in such surroundings, our webmaster had an overwhelming urge to clown around.
The 16th-century Vittala temple is hardly lacking in interesting details…
Christine manages to keep a straight face and, despite the 45 kilos of baggage she rides with, she is wearing yet another outfit!
It's starting to get hot, so we are moving along to get to the North and to Nepal. We will be going to Hyderabad first. Our bicycles have not had an overhaul yet and they are showing signs of wear after 23,500 kilometers but we are going to push through with them as we'd like to get them refurbished before embarking on the Tibetan mountain ranges.
(Text translated by Maia Demorest)