Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Hampered by Hampi

Dear Ness,

Shanti, Shanti (peace, peace).  I have been at the mercy of Hampi’s electricity/internet/phone line connection problems for the better part of 5 days now.  The last 3 days nothing.  Before that, I was able to get on 5-10 minutes at a time, then off-line, then back on, then the lights go out, then wait, back on, write some more, off-line–you get the idea.  I don’t know the reason for the internet connection problems but it doesn’t really matter when there is no power to turn the computer on.  I didn’t realize at first that Hampi shares it’s electricity with another neighboring village or two.  This means for blocks of hours throughout the day and night, Hampi is without.  You would think there would be a specific schedule to this, as in, the same hours of the day every day so one could plan their day accordingly, but this just isn’t so.  On top of that, there was also an accident involving a truck and a main electrical pole.  If you are lucky, some guest houses have back up generators but oftentimes deem the internet cafe’ 2 computers from the 90’s as non-essential.  How uncivilized.  At any rate, I am loving the updates from Costa Rica!  Congratulations on your sloth sighting!  The pictures add so much to the blog.  I really get a sense of what’s going on and how beautiful it is.   I have not been able to upload any pictures and I am so frustrated because I have some really good ones.  I have a mini USB to regular USB cord that I bought here in India but not one computer has recognized my camera.  I don’t know if my cord is just shit, the computers are just shit or it’s a combination of the two. 

If you let it get to you, India could possibly be the most frustrating, ridiculously paradoxical place on the planet.  Of course, mishaps and differences  of cultures, etc…while travelling is part of the adventure and fun of it all.  I understand this.  But sometimes I am truly exhausted just from trying to get from point A to point B.   For example, to get out of Hampi you have to take a local bus to Hospet, the next biggest town, and then take another bus to your destination but there is no stand to buy a ticket.  Nor any information window/display/what have you of any kind.  You kind of have to know where you are going and what time the bus is and you just have to pay on the bus.  So trying to find out any information about the local bus out of Hospet in Hampi was damn near impossible.  I asked 5 different people, locals mind you (to include 2 different travel agents), what time the buses left.  5 different answers.  So I decided to splurge (double the price from 5 dollars to 10 dollars) on the “Deluxe Tourist Sleeper” bus from Hospet to Gokarna scheduled to leave 6:30 PM and arriving Gokarna at 5 AM.  I met an awesome German/Tunisian girl, Sarah, in Hampi, also traveling by herself who was up for the trip and we set off together to catch the rustbucket death trap on wheels deluxe sleeper.  Do you remember how in Korea stores would use advertising jargon just because it sounded or looked cool?  Like the store that had “24 HOURS” written on the window but was always closed.  India does the same shit!  I bought some mosquito repellent cream that basically promises an invisible shield able to dissolve mosquitos on contact.  Bullshit.  Anyway, off on a tangent but you get the picture–deluxe bus my ass.  We thought we had scored by getting the last two tickets for the overnighter to Gokarna until we realized this meant the back of the bus over the wheel axle where you feel every single little pebble and pothole for God Shiva knows how many kilometers.  The sleeper area is a chair that lays all the way back and clicks into place and a privacy curtain should you be foolish enough to try and sleep.  Sarah’s chair didn’t click and actually acted more like a trampoline catapulting her into the air several times after a gigantic pothole.   I though she might break her nose or suffer a concussion from hitting the roof of the sleeper above us.  Of course, I was concerned but it was funny as hell too and the more I tried not to laugh, the harder I had the giggles.  I seriously contemplated hitting up Tom, the British chap I met in Hampi also on our bus, holding a stash of Valium but decided against it.  You know I don’t do/have never done drugs so you can only imagine the deluxeness of this bus ride.  1 hour into the trip we broke down.  There was some sort of fuel pump problem but much to the driver/mechanic’s credit with a mini torch and minimal tools, we were up and running in a little over an hour.   Around 4 AM Sarah and I were dumped off at  some town trucker stop called Ankola 25 KM away from our intended destination of Gokarna.  Sarah and I, aside from the men sleeping on the floor in front of the hotel brothel, were alone with (for the fucking first time in India) not a taxi cab/rickshaw driver in sight.  After 5 minutes of terrifying myself with thoughts of getting gang-raped by Indian trucker men, Sarah and I just put on a brave face and waited for a rickshaw.  Of course, we had to pay a ridiculous amount of money (well, ridiculous by Indian backpacker standards–really I think it was a 10 dollar split) by the time one arrived around 5:30.  We did have a nice chai stop on the way to the edge of Gokarna after our driver informed us he hadn’t slept all night and almost killed us.  Very good chai actually.  After that, a further hike of 5 KM from Gokarna to Kudle Beach.  On the way, we met the unofficial town guide, Vishnu, who chaperoned us all over Gokarna.  We stopped at a beautiful ashram, passed the town bath and got a tour of a temple in a cave.  Such a wealth of a knowledge, and so cute with his broken English and weighing about 100 lbs, Vishnu even showed us a short cut through the jungle to a really cool place to stay called Namaste Yoga Farm.  Yeah, he asked for a donation, supposedly for some kids program at the ashram but I choose to believe it was for the kids and a little bit goes such a long way here so I gave him 100 rupees.  Nothing is for free here in India.  Nothing.

I have read that people often explain India as an assault to the senses.  I can see why.  But I will have to explain further in another letter.  How the hell are you posting all the time anyway?  Don’t tell me you have been getting Wi-Fi?!?  I can’t even remember what a fast computer feels like.  Do you remember dial-up?  I wish I could stay here and write for another 2 hours.  I have so much to still fill you in on and people I’ve met, etc…I miss you a lot and wish I was able to have some Central American fun con tu y Anika.  I really hope we can meet up in Thailand at some point. 


lil sweaty frustrated bobe

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