We made it!

We made it!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Day 24 –Walk from Bethamangala to Bangarapet

This morning we decided on a slightly later start yet were all ready to go by 8.30am. After a couple of days with small walks we were very excited about the prospect of getting back on the road and punch out a lazy 20kms. This was the first full day walking for Kate, Max and Alice and they were joined by Poppa, Indy, Maggie and myself. The walk team is growing.

We actually drove to Bethamangala and walked back to Bangarapet where we are staying. The kids looked great and were ready for walking. Mum, Bec and Gussy had a short shopping list of stuff to collect today and stayed in the car with Raju as we began our walk. Gus was excited because he was getting a battery for his plane that he got for Christmas.

We started our walk and as often happens the first couple of hours are always the most difficult for the new walkers. Ally in particular was struggling a little to get into her stride in the early stages but maintained her pace well with the group. After a short time we came across the New Oxford school, a very impressive local school. As we walked past the front gates we could see some sort of presentation was going on. One of the men at the front gate invited us to have a look which we agreed to do. As we walked in the gate one of the teachers saw us and quickly invited us up on to the stage. Again there were hundreds of kids sitting in the large meeting place and on the stage speeches were going on with some very official looking gentlemen sitting up on stage. Quickly some extra chairs were supplied and up we went. We thought today was going to be a quiet walking day, we were wrong. We were again presented with beautiful flower garlands although we were spared the need to make a speech. The event was an exhibition of the students work for the term. Many of the children seated in the courtyard had brought with them produce, nuts, toys and had made their very own market. Whilst on the stage I looked at Kate who enquired how long we would be here and I again said “no idea, let’s go with it”. Fortunately the speeches were short lived and we followed around the other dignitaries around the student markets. After this we headed up into the classrooms to view the exhibition of the students work. It was of an incredibly high standard. They each had a topic such as deforestation, traditional music, volcanoes, zoos etc and had each made a large display and also had both written and verbal presentations of their work. After which they each presented their exercise book for feedback and signature. Maggie in particular thought this was pretty cool and giving out her autograph. We could have easily spent all day there and it was very difficult to find a way to leave, we kept getting encouraged in to see just one more presentation. Eventually we found a way to leave, even then though we managed to disappoint a number of students who were calling to us to show their work.

We had to continue on, it was a long walk day and we still had many kilometres to cover. So off we strolled up the road, Indy leading from the front, Maggie and Maxy singing along at high volume, Kate and I in between the kids and Ally and Popsy bringing up the rear. I think Maggie managed to talk almost non-stop from start to finish today. The kids seem best when we are talking to them, Maggie and Maxy in particular like stories. So for many kilometres we share old stories of our dogs and cats and the troubles they got themselves into. There isn’t too much time just to stop and enjoy the scenery because in between stories there are requests for drinks, food and general grievances. It is quite an effort to keep everyone motivated, fed and watered and walking.

We have a stop about a third of the way for soft drinks, chips and chocolate which seem to give the kids an injection of energy. We set course for the bakery we saw on the way this morning and this seems to focus the kids. They all were doing an amazing job and Kate, Poppa and I rotated amongst the kids to keep them going. The occasional complaint about sore feet, or how long till we get there, but overall they were brilliant. Before we knew it we made it to the bakery where we stopped for soft drinks, pineapple juice and an assortment of sweet treats for the kids. We knew we had broken the back of the walk and it was only a matter of a few kilometres now back to the hotel. We had to walk through a very busy Bangarapet township before finding our way back to the hotel. A quick guessing game of what time would we make it back and the kids were kept focused until the end. About 45 minutes from the bakery, a further 3 kilometres walking and we had made it, a solid 18-20 kilometres and the kids did well. Popsy has a sore hip and retired to do some stretches. Bec and mum have had a good day and are once again organised and feeling good after a big couple of days. The kids are clearly pretty happy with themselves and retire for a rest and a couple of movies. We have a shower, order up some coffees and Bec shows us a slideshow of her photos from the last couple of days.

For Bec and I we are now 24 days into our adventure. Each day is beautiful, inspiring, challenging, difficult and every other superlative you can come up with. Sometimes just getting the kids ready in the morning seems like an unachievable target and then other times the most difficult of tasks appears easy and comfortable. Doing this walk as adults I don’t think would be particularly difficult but doing it as a family with young kids, five now in our crew as well as three families all travelling together as one family has its challenges as I am sure you can imagine. Our kids are doing incredibly well after the initial 24 days away form home. This is now the longest we have ever travelled overseas and we are into unchartered territory. Indy and Mags are doing well and particularly enjoy having their Nanna and Poppa and their Aunty and cousins here with them. Gus has been an absolute champion. Yesterday after an 8am start and amidst all of the activity during the day finishing at 5pm he was just a star. Having been travelling overseas since he was 4 months old and all three kids having trips to East Timor, Thailand and three trips to India they are well conditioned for this trip. Bec continues to be amazing, she has been an absolute powerhouse on this trip. Getting everyone organised, caring for Gus, supplying nursing services to all, amateur photographer, and all around counsellor for anyone in need she continues to show us all just what an incredibly special and beautiful woman she is, a wonderful role model to our children.

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