We made it!

We made it!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Day 5 Kappad Beach – Walk from Kunnamangalam to Pudupaddy

Last night was a tough night. Obviously tired from our first day walking, Gus had a very rough night with his cough and was not a happy camper. I think all up I would have had only an hours sleep, Bec and the girls not a lot more. One of those nights where you are constantly up to the toilet, to get water, to find the dummies. At one point we set up a movie which brightened Gus up, he also found a bag of lollies and was back to his old self, this at 4am mind you. We managed to eventually get back to sleep for another hour or so before waking sluggishly and with a puffy left eye at 7.30am. Nanna has put on another very brave face and informs us her leg will be fine. Gus ofcourse wakes up full of energy and ready to greet the day, not so for the rest of us. Poppa and Nanna head to breakfast early to order up while we run around madly trying to get ourselves organised for what plans to be one of the biggest walk days of the trip. We had our usual breakfast and was excited to see we made it to page 3 of the Indian Express newspaper. A very good article for ChildFund and photo included.

After breakfast we leave Gus in charge of the girls and Poppa, Indy and I head off to collect Antony from his hotel and our drive to pick up our walk from Kunnamangalam. It is a beautiful morning and we are pleased to be starting our walk earlier in the morning. The Keralan countryside is just beautiful, with coconut and banana trees everywhere and huge palms and other exotic tropical species. As we walk along the highway we look down to the rivers with the kids playing in the river, it is very inviting. I enquire to Antony why the kids are not at school and he informs me it is Saturday. Another reminder of just how we have lost track of time and the normality of life.

Indy is starting to feel the weight of the stares and share with me there is a level of discomfort she is experiencing. She is walking in shorts and the white legs of a young girl are hard not to look at here in a culture where women are covered from head to toe. As we walk along a young man takes an interest in our walk team. Antony shares with him what our journey is all about and he is very interested. We walk on only to find a few minutes down the road he catches us up and informs us he is the editor of the local paper and wants to do a story on the walk. He has organised his photographer to meet us at the next town. He and Antony decide it is a good opportunity to do some impromptu fundraising for ChildFund. A bucket appears out of nowhere and India and Antony are walking into shops, bucket in hand, sharing our cause and securing donation after donation. One man, a cobbler sitting by the side of the road even made a generous donation. Ofcourse in India it is very easy to draw a crowd and soon we were again followed by many interested onlookers. After an hour or so Indy had raised several hundred rupees and we had another once in a lifetime experience find us out of nowhere.

A little further up the road we met the girls, Gus had been having as sleep in the car. Bec jumped out to order a few health warnings and supplied some hydrolytes amongst other advice. The girls were going to drive on today to the next town of Kalpetta, some 20km up the road and secure our lodgings for the evening rather than drive back to the beach. After a quick catch up the girls headed on and we kept walking, the sun getting hotter as we went and the cool morning shade and breeze was fast replaced with hot sun and heat radiating off the bitumen we walked along. A little further on we receive a text from Maggie, saying Poppa it is too dangerous, you cannot walk ahead. We weren’t sure what this was all about and because Bec hadn’t called we assumed it was nothing and continued on. A little further up the road we saw a nasty traffic accident where a truck had rolled off the road and assumed this was what the fuss was all about, littrle did we know that up ahead was a road we later named ‘Death Road’.

We stopped for lunch, keralan Paratha and veg potato curry which we all enjoyed, particularly Indy. We stopped for a quick toilet stop. The toilet was behind the small restaurant, it was a hole in the ground, the galvanized cubicle still filled with smoke from the previous patron and we are reminded about the small luxuries of home. Later that night Indy shared stories of the position she had to get into to be able to use the toilet and keep her pants on, due to the filth on the ground, she had us all in stitches.

We walked on, making good time even despite the impromptu fundraising effort. We receive a call from the girls informing us that the road from Puduppady was a nightmare and there is no chance we could even consider walking it, to which we ofcourse said to each other ‘how bad could it be?’. This was tomorrow’s planned walk and despite a few words regarding the terrain we were not aware of just how difficult this stretch was going to be. We were walking straight into the Great Western Ghats. We managed to keep walking and get to and through Pudupaddy, an amazing second day effort of over 30km’s and the longest walk any of us had ever done. We stopped for tea and spoke on the phone with the girls who were still lost trying to find the accommodation (I will let Bec share this experience with you below) and we were informed the 20 kilometres to Kalpetta would take well over an hour and was a terrifying trip – how bad could it be again we wondered given our surroundings were quite picturesque and serene? We decided to continue to walk beyond our final destination and as it started to get close to dusk decided to pull up stumps for the day by a roadside fruit stall. By this stage Indy was well and truly stuffed, truth be told so were we all, it had been a long day for everyone in the team.

Bec had finally found our stay for the night and Raju, who had been driving all day was heading back to get us. As we sat there at the base of the Ghats we looked up and imagined what lay ahead of us. The clouds were starting to come in and it was getting dark. We could only just make out the mountains through the clouds. We sat and waited for the tempo traveler bus to arrive. About 40 went by in the 90 minutes it took Raju to get back to us but at last the big TT with Raju at the wheel found us. Needless to say we were all very relieved. We jumped in the bus and I put my arm around Indy and just held on tight. We started to make our way up the mountain and a bit like a rollercoaster experienced the ease of the slow journey along the foothills as we made our way to the main peak. As we climbed the roads got narrower and rougher and we went through what seemed like 30 hairpin bends, single lane construction zone roads, buses and trucks in front of us and behind us. It was like a scene out of that documentary “the worlds scariest roads”. It was night so we couldn’t see what lay beyond the edges of the road but could imagine it was a long drop off. Raju who had been driving all day took particular caution and we made it very slowly up the mountain. All up the trip was fine, on only one occasion did we come around the corner to find a bus on our side of the road. The patience of the Indian drivers is amazing, the height of road rage is a flick of the hand and off they go with little or no aggression at all. We were extremely relieved to get to the top of the mountain, again as worrying as it was it provided another of those amazing life experiences at the end of what was a long day. You would have thought after all of this we would have deserved to just get to the hotel but unfortunately we found our way to a gridlock traffic jam and whilst only a kilometer of two from our lodging we were not going anywhere. Some time later we eventually made it to our homestay for the night, great to have the team reunited and we all shared the stories of our day before crashing into bed for a well earned night’s sleep.

1 comment:

  1. Guys, I missed you. U walked through my home town!! I live in Sydney and would have asked my entire village to come and accompany you!