Elephant, Tigers and warthogs, Oh My!

Day 12


Day 13

I waited until 11:30 in hopes that the rain would stop but ended up setting off in drizzle into the national park which separates Kerala and Tamil Nadu. By 3pm I was deep within the park on a pot hole riddled road decorated with signs showing portraits of tigers and captions reading "Please don't stop vehicles". This was most comforting, especially as my chain kept deciding to come off and I felt time was due for my first puncture. I was told not to travel through the park at morning or dusk and hunting time was now approaching. I cranked religiously until my biceps bled and I passed out of the sanctuary gates into safety. The only animals I came across were some warthogs who fled at my arrival. So here I was now in the State of Tamil Nadu. Wow this is true tricycle country. Flat roads for miles, like riding on a placid lake. I would have swarn I was in Africa with the dry ground, withered trees and rock monoliths rising out of the plains. I cruised into Udamulipet town and met with a friend of Titus's for the night. This was a family of singers and we had a wonderful night of sing along.

Day 14

On my journey this day I met with a middle aged disabled woman residing in an orphanage. She had polio, cross eyes and walked on her knees but greeted me thankfully. She was capable of riding the cycle, though will need a little practise until she can make it go where she wants it to and will soon be riding around the ashram, to chruch and into town. I continued on to Oddanchatram where Thomas advised me to stop at the  hospital to look for tricycle recipients. This was a large complex but somehow I managed to find myself in the physio therapy department with many physicians poking at my machine. They had no one available at present but were sure someone suitable would arrive, so I decided to donate one cycle to the department. One physio invited me home to sleep the night.

Day 15

This was a day of riding on rough farming back roads. In a land where only children smiled. There were many gaunt faced farming men and woman tending to goats on the roadside. Their feet stuck to the soil with no pressing need in life inspiring them to move them any time soon. I tried my best to summon a smile from their dark tribally pierced faces, but achieved nothing but an alien stare. I stopped for lunch at a road stall of beef fried rice. A big mistake. My intended town of sleep had no lodge (only reporters, see photo) so I had to go a further 15km, making this my longest day at 110km.

Day 16

Beef fried rice bites back. This was a wet day and I had no choice but to set off in the rain with my new found food poisoning. I felt very week with only the weight of my heavy hands to turn the cranks. It took a long time to travel 30km with many a stop for a roadside vomit. (sorry I am just trying to give a true account). On this day I was also stopped by two people who had disabled friends. I loaded the cycle onto a mans truck to meet on lady with polio working as a clerk in a college to test her on the cycle. I later was taken to a lady with a tea stall who also had polio. I was happy to have been able to help them but very unenthusiastic with my sickness and prayed for no more stops before I reached the next town and found a bed to curl up in. As I approached the town I was intercepted by the press. I was very unresponsive, let them, take a sour photo and I pedalled on ignoring their requests for an interview. In the town of Trichy, finding a lodge was not so easy. I asked one man if he knew of one. He led me for about 2 hours to many lodges which he said were full then asked me to buy him dinner. The next lodge was free and I was so happy to have a bed. My new guide decided he would sleep in my room for the night. I told him no, gave him some money for his time and refused his offer to come back tomorrow. A couple staying in the hotel now wanted me to visit them in their room. All I wanted was to curl up and recover but I swaggered down the stairs for a quick chat. They were a nice couple. A Hindu man and christian women living together for 43 years happily married. They invited me to visit them when I arrived in Bangalore.

Day 17

Just one day to be a tourist would be nice. I was still rather sick and could eat nothing all day but managed to drag myself to a temple and sleep under one of its decorative columns.

Day 18

I felt much stronger and peddled off to Tanjor where a rotary man met me and organised a room for me which I was not expecting. I even had some afternoon time for a visit to the amazing Brahideshavra temple.


Hope Disability Centre said...

Great news Shasa...to hear you have now covered 800 kms! When I saw you leaving Kerala...I worried about the first 10 kms!

Thanks also to all your supporters...we do need young, innovative, inspiring souls to make things and events happen!

Looking forward to seeing your whole collection of photos and maybe video when you are back in NZ!

Namaste! Rob Buchanan MEND www.mend.org.nz

sakkeer hussain said...

thank you shaz your notes, photos.videos ....
we meet on kerala road. to rember me - a person driving car wirh hands