The trip to the waterfall was nice, but bottom-exhausting as we cycled on a very bad road for almost 70km. At least we finally moved again and got out of the hotel.
We were excited to leave the next day but also a bit worried as we would only cycle on secondary or tertiary roads and in India you never know the condition of roads in advance. But we got positively surprised and once more cycled a full day on perfect small roads with hardly any traffic, through nice landscapes, in turn through forests and farmland, where they mainly grow mustard, a very familiar smell and view and a nice memory of German summers.
That night we ended up in the middle of nowhere at a farmer who we asked to pitch our tent on his ground but he of course invited us into his house/barn. We also told him that we bought all our food for the evening and would cook ourselves, but he refused. As his spoken English wasn’t very good, he asked us to write down everything, which slowed down our conversation but improved communication tremendously. It took us about four pages in the farmer’s notebook to agree that we were invited for dinner as well. A hilarious conversation by the way. This time we thought we are clever and just give them our food as they never accept any money for their hospitality. And surprisingly they took our potatoes, onions and tomatoes and we felt relieved that we finally contributed to the meal. For dinner we got a simple but very tasty meal (without any consequences) consisting of tennis ball-lookalike wheat balls baked in a cow dung fire, dal and radish salad. We ate together with the children of the family on the impeccably clean kitchen floor, while I really enjoyed the food and Johan slightly struggled as it was too hot for him. The kitchen is by the way also their living and bedroom, just depending on the time of the day.
The following morning we woke early and wanted to prepare our own breakfast consisting of Nutella toast and Nescafe, when the lady of the house approached me with a plastic bag full of potatoes, onions and tomatoes. We got our vegetables back!!! And there was no way to refuse it, on the contrary: we were also not allowed to eat our toast but got freshly made paranthi and hot milk, which we sneakily upgraded with Nutella and chocolate powder (thank you so much Elisabeth!). Before we left we got at least one kilogram of freshly harvested radish and roasted peanuts. Johan took the son for a short ride on his bike, we took a few pictures, said our goodbyes and once again left happy.
We’ve been cycling for about 45min when a motorbike approached me with a man constantly calling for me. At first I ignored him as this happens every two minutes. But he just wouldn’t stop so I finally looked at the man and was positively surprised: it was our farmer together with his nephew and they asked us to stay another night, this time at his 11-year-old nephew’s place! We could see their disappointment when we told them that we had to move on, but were once more overwhelmed! This is the part of India we really love.
We continued riding on extremely bad and undulating roads, crossed the Chambal river on a small ferryboat, rode against a constantly changing wind (actually whatever direction we would ride, we could count on riding against the wind), through a very different but scenic landscape. In the early afternoon – it was Sunday – we approached a small city and passed a cricket field with a serious game going on and a commentator making comments on the game when we suddenly hear “Olala, how are you?” from the loudspeakers and about 100 heads turn into our direction to wave to us and yell their hello into our direction. We continued with a big grin on our faces. And you need to know that Indians are crazy about cricket and there is hardly anything more important or interesting!!!
That evening we were for the first time refused to pitch our tent, this time we asked at an Ashram or a sect, we couldn’t really make out what it was. I think if I would have been a man, we could have stayed there, as there were only half-naked men walking or sitting around (only wearing white blankets around their waists and all had long Rasta hair). We continued and pitched our tent just a few hundred meters further in the forest, took a ‘forest shower’ with the water we got from the male hippies, and cooked a delicious dinner: baked potatoes, eggs and tomato salad.
The following day the road improved but the wind worsened, we again rode all day long against the wind and ended up once more in a depressing hotel with only cold water (we both preferred the ‘forest shower’) and an extremely bad-tempered hotel manager and again noisy Indian neighbors. How much we hate these hotels, but there was nothing else and camping in or close to cities is an absolute no go.
The fifth cycling day went smoothly but was another hard day as we continued to cycle against the wind for more than 120km. We were both looking forward to a nice relaxing guesthouse as we were tired and bottom-sore from five tough days on the road.