Sunday, May 16, 2010

Gettin' the hell out of Hampi

Morning came to Hampi and the prayers to the porcelain gods had started to subside. Colleen and I were both completely exhausted. I felt like I’d lost a fight with my intestines.

I stumbled down to the reception area, where they looked at me in terror. The first thing the manager said to me was “You need to go to the hospital.” I tried to laugh it off, unconvincingly. The last thing I wanted was a hospital in this kind of scary, pretty grubby town. Interestingly, I’d had a very good chat with an young Englishman on the train to Hampi who had told me of his group's medical problems in Northern India. One of them had had to go on a drip to get liquids into her, and he’d had to go on all sorts of meds. But I was pretty sure we had just had bad food poisoning, not something long term.

I asked them to send us up some breakfast, knowing that we couldn’t eat it but that we should try. It never got touched, except for some toast that we made an effort with later on in the day and which made an instant u-turn with me. We also asked them to send up a selection of 7-Up, Fanta and water, knowing that we needed some sugar and liquid. And then I went back to bed to try to pass out.

There’s not much else to tell about the rest of that miserable day. It was spent in bed, moaning, with periodic rushes to the washroom. Showers were frequent, to try to cool down, then the uncontrollable shivering had to be dealt with. The room heated up to the point where, even if we'd been healthy, it was ridiculously hot. The AC was ineffective. Oh, and the power would go out periodically, taking down the AC and the TV for half an hour at a time.

I am deeply grateful for the fact that we had a TV in our room. It kept me sane. This is probably politically incorrect for me to say, but I really can’t stand Indian TV or movies, which comprised 90% of what was on. But it’s a distraction. And the cricket chamionships were on at the same time, so I had several hours to try to figure out this game that I’ve always found terribly confusing. (The rules are simple. It’s the scoring that kills me.) I think I’ve got the one day test-match basics nailed, which is a major accomplishment.

The big dilemma for Colleen and I that day was that we had a 10:30 PM bus ticket that we needed to use to get to Bangalore to catch a connecting bus to Ooty the next day. We had also bought a bus ticket that left the next day that we could use instead (yes, we were double booking), but that would result in us catching the night bus to Ooty from Bangalore, which sounded pretty unpleasant. We rolled this one around all afternoon and decided we’d make the call as to whether we’d catch the bus at 8:30. When the time came, we’d been yak free for 3 hours. We felt like hell. We weren’t sure if we’d survive the rickshaw ride to Hospet to catch the bus, let alone the bus ride itself. But we decided to make a run for it. Another night spent in Hampi just sounded too terrible to us.

We’d asked the hotel to book us a taxi, but they said there were none to be had. Rickshaw it was. We packed up, asked the hotel to not give away our room in case we were back in half an hour, and climbed in.

I didn’t think I was going to make it after five minutes of bouncy exhausty rickshaw, but after ten minutes more I felt better. I’d make it to the bus stop anyway. Colleen forged on too. We didn’t talk, both of us just staring blankly ahead, trying to keep it together.

The bus stop was a dodgy looking stoop in front of a bank with the power out. Nothing around to indicate that buses actually stopped here. But we sat and waited and sweated and were quiet. People eventually joined us. Cows and pigs wandered the streets. And we felt miserable.

The bus eventually came – late of course – but we were good to go. It was a sleeper bus, which I’d never been on before. That meant that there was a row of two seats below, then a row of single bunks. And above there was another row of single bunks and a row of double bunks. When we’d bought the tickets we’d picked up a double and a single, beside each other. The idea that we’d bought three seats seemed to blow the ticket taker away, but it turned out to be a blessing. We climbed into our bunks, stowed our bags in the third bunk that was separated from the aisle by my body for security reasons, and we were able to lie down in relative peace. We had windows that opened and, apart from the very poor roads and the constant honking, it was a pretty good spot to feel like hell in. I won’t say that we slept well, but we wouldn’t have in a real bed either, and we certainly wouldn't have in our hard beds and in the hot room in Hampi. It was as good as it was going to get.

It had been a very long and unpleasant day. It was looking better now that we were on the bus, but we both felt drained and miserable. This wasn’t going to be over in a single day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hang in there intrepid travellers. Love your stories, although I think that's called schadenfreude or something. Can't really be the schad word if you are delighting in the sensations your friends feel that you have also felt. I'm sure you have truly bonded as a couple and who knew weight loss could be so easy!

Love you guys. Take care.