Every Good Journey needs a mountain

Day 7

I had only a morning ride to Muvattapuzha, then a 10km detour to Valakom to meet Thomas's friend James, his wife and 2 sons. James retired after 20 years work in Dubai to return to Kerala for a peacefull life with a nice house and small vegetable garden. We shared lunch before introducing me to a man who had fallen from a coconut tree. He was good at using the cycle and has flat ground from his home into town so should be a suitable recipient.

Day 8

I cycled off to Thattekkad wildlife sanctuary stopping on the way to get a new stronger, wider rim and tyre that had no bald patch. This seemed to fix my square wheel sensation and improve my juddery breaking which would be important for the approaching mountains. My success at seeing wildlife at the sanctuary was small, instead I had a long lecture from the manager about how we can't let tourists into sanctuaries as they destroy the habitat. He wanted me to share this message through what he seemed to see as my high profile status. I agreed with his argument then took his details as a possible recipient as he had an ankle problem and many disabled visitors to the sanctuary. I spent the night at the sanctuary home stay. The lady keeper took me to visit a local man with one leg working at a small tea shop. He also seemed suitable for the cycle.

Day 9

The day started through a rubber plantation, where I stopped to watch a rugged woodman as he flitted from tree to tree like an elf extracting the rubber from a coconut shell and re cutting the spiral shoot down the trunk so that fresh liquid rubber could run down to be collected. The rubber is put into drums with a solvent to keep it liquid until until it reaches the factory. I reached the town of Neriamungalam, purchased a coconut, stashed it away and began my gruelling climb of 1.65km over the next 50km. I had to pick up the cycle and drag it most of the way as my one set gear is not possible to use on steep hills. I stopped at a waterfall for lunch where a local cracked open my coconut so that I could devour half of it for lunch while enjoying the view. One stall keeper named Finny invited me to spend the night with his family near Adimali and join him for church the next day. I slept in their simple home on the lush jungle hillside. His father was a paster and his mother a housewife who was very ashamed at having time only to prepare an amazing chicken curry and not the usual 5 dish meal that Indian people eat.

Day 10

 It feels very tribal when you enter these indian church services. All sit on the floor, men one side, women the other and clap and chant in a trance like state. I was asked to deliver a message so I spoke of my journey, read psalm 139,9 and sang amazing grace with finny's translation. I sped off after Church in hopes of reaching the hillstation town of Munnar before dark. My afternoon tea of my remaining half coconut had developed some pink mold in the last 24 hours. I cut most of it out but was still left in a mildly paranoid state about being poisoned on a remote jungle hillside. At 4pm the rain came pelting so I sat on the cycle beneath a tarpaulin as a river gushed beneath me for 1 hour. I had allowed for 4 hours for this 27 km journey. Instead it to 7.5. The jungle turned to stunning bushy cultivated tea plantation hillsides. These slowly melted into darkness, the rain returned and the road grew steeper and rougher. As I came to drag my burden through an ankle deep mudslide amidst backed up traffic waiting for a digger to clear the road, my flag pole snapped and so did my deluded sensation of being Jesus carrying his cross. I had a fleeting fantasy of casting the tricycle down the mountainside, smashing it into tea leaf sized pieces. I pushed this thought aside and continued my achey ascent. Traffic thinned, night fell and the hill flattened. I trundled through dripping pot holed darkness lit dimly by my hand held flashlight until reaching the cold hill station of Munnar where one man in a medical shop was waiting for me. Here I slept the night in his hobbit home praying for hot morning sun.

Day 11

"Let me wake to warm and sunny
Dry my bones turn skin to honey
Watch the steam rise off my clothes
Up to where my spirit goes
Here's one secret that I know
Heavens hot and hell is cold"

I had a glorious morning climbing the sunny hill road through more perfect ea bushes, dotted with colourfully clothed tea shearing men and women. Then like a sudden bright idea where there stood one man and one cow, my mountain decided it was time for descent. Two news reporters met me at the bottom and I was able to get a copy of their filming on my USB. When I reached the town of Murayur, Thomas had organised yet another host for me. Brother Titus was a 30 year old paster living with his wife and baby, running a church for the local tribal people. I was given a spacious room overlooking a valley of sugar cain.


rose said...

Hey Shasa,

great to see your odyssey has begun! Keep us posted!


rose said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Keep on working, great job!

Also visit my weblog - check this out