Saturday, January 22, 2005

on the road again - Nasik to Daman

Day 4 cycling: Nasik to Kaparda
Distance cycled: 100.59km
Ride time: 6:47 hours
Average speed = 15.37 km/hr
Overall total = 362 km
Max Speed: 45 km/hr

The first 30km out of Nasik were fine - road conditions were very good (decent surface, light traffic, fairly flat, and occasional road signs in English). There were lots of eucalyptus trees along the route (Australia gave them to India, & they gave us the Mynah bird). It sometimes felt as if I were cycling some obscure road between Adelaide & Port Augusta. After 38km the surface was ... crap, although there was a nice downhill bit (which the bad surface managed to spoil). From my vipassana training of course, one should never be disappointed by uphill stretches or overjoyed by the downhill ones (but it's sure hard not to, especially with a good road surface & little traffic). The 45 km/hr section was rather fun. Funnily, when the road is steep and/or very awful, the truckies suddenly become very friendly, waving, smiling - I guess they feel some sense of common ground as we both struggle with the same difficult conditions. Out here, the locals don't seem quite so friendly, and tend to look blank when I cycle past saying "hi", "hello" or something similar. I later learnt that these words are unknown in these parts.

I arrived at Kaparda at about 4pm, utterly exhausted - 15.37 km/hr is not a great speed (I like it when I can hit at least 18) which reflects to some extent how bad the road was ( and a little bit my lack of cycling fitness). Allegedly there was a hotel in Kaparda - one of only two on the entire way between Nasik & Pardi. Only there wasn't - after going in this direction and that, given to me by helpful locals, I finally stopped & sat on a concrete slab ready to just weep, when a man crossed the road & took me to the local school hostel, where they agreed to put me up for the night. Such bliss! The conditions were pretty rough - squat loo, swarms of mossies, and so on, but I wasn't complaining. However I was a little unsure when given a cup, a bucket of water & towel, and taken into the midle of the school ground to make use of the equipment. I wasn't quite sure whether I was meant to strip off in front of the entire school or not ... but then sense arrived, and I just washed my exposed bits. Later that evening, I took the teacher to the local hotel/roadhouse for a meal - very tasty, and I'm sure much better than what any roadhouse in Australia would turn out. It was a little strained,as neither of us knew a word of the other's language, and I felt too exhausted to make any grand efforts at pantomime. I later slept like a log until 6am when the whole place came alive - morning chanting, washing, cleaning, sweeping, eating etc. The school's English teacher arrived, so we had a chat & he drew me a map showing how to cut about 15 km off my journey to Daman by taking roads not on my road atlas. (He explained that he's paid about Rp4500 a month (about $150 AUD), which is not great)

One thing that's been very tricky is that the names shown on my LP Travel Atlas, and also my map, bear little relationship to local reality - for instance, the town shown as "Peint" is called "Peth" by everyone - even the official signs, if in English call it this. Even worse, "Chioli", on the map, is called "Nanaponda" locally --- and locals apparently would not know what I was talking about if I asked the way to "Chioli". Curious. The two maps drawn for me to date by locals have been very helpful & fairly accurate ... much more than so than my maps. So, thanks guys.

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