Long time no speak or type or read- whichever makes more sense in this situation. I have been a hopeless blogger but don’t worry I have lots of stories to share with you about my trip and there is still so much more to come!
I need to start off by telling you about the story of Ant’s Wild Adventures- it’s hilarious! So Ant is one of the guys from the trip, he is Australian, and loves to travel. He has the energy of a five year old who has just eaten sugar, and sometimes the mentality of one too, (Shh! Don’t tell him I said that) so for this 23 years old going on 93 he is the perfect travel buddy.
We have been on a couple of walks together with varying different groups of people, our first walk was a few days into the trip and while everyone else wanted to relax we wanted to explore so set out to explore a local Nepalese village of Newakot. Anyway, that’s a different story! This day we had just arrived in a small town, Wayanad, and had a group meeting about the next day, if you have ever been overlanding you might know what it is like trying to get the group to decide what they want to do, if not it’s like trying to herd cats- impossible!
So after a 45-minute meeting that should have lasted 10 minutes tops I needed to let off some steam and go on a walk, and Ant was up for joining me. At the meeting, a group of us had decided to go for a walk the next day so we thought we would see what was around to walk to tomorrow.
We headed off towards the main road and decided to keep it simple by walking for an hour down the road then turning back and returning to the guest house. The walk was lovely, after spending some time in more touristy areas I love going back to the small towns where people look at you with curiosity and then go about their daily lives.
We walked past shops selling brightly coloured saris and other devoted to cooking pans and pots, local markets selling huge bunches of bananas, green oranges and piled high with onions and other vegetables. Children played cricket and football in the local park and young families sat on the swings in the play area. I loved it all.
We reached the end of the second town and it was time to turn back around and head towards the guest lodge again.
“Can you remember the name of the guest house?” I asked as we started walking back. One of the issues with this sort of a trip is that because you are always moving hotel start to blend into one and names are almost impossible to remember. Normally as soon as I check into a hotel I grab a business card so that if I get lost I can ask for directions to the hotel and people know where I am talking about, however, because it was a home-stay style guest house they didn’t have a business card and I hadn’t properly taken in the name in my hurry to get away from the group and go on our walk.
“No, but we will be fine.” Was Ant’s reply and we kept talking about the group and the trip, while I was constantly trying to remember the name of the guest house. We quickly arrived at the town we were staying in and started looking for the road we needed. There was one road that looked a bit like the road I remembered us coming out of, but it was too close to the edge of town.
“It was a small road that ran horizontally off this road,” I described my memory of the road we had exited a few hours previously “It had a weird odds and ends shop next to it.” These shops were unfortunately not uncommon in this town and almost every street had a shop selling odds and ends next to it.
We continued walking down the main road looking for the small road that we needed to take. “I don’t remember this hill,” Ant said as we walked up it
“I’m not sure I think there was a hill. I don’t remember these shops though.” We both began to look around trying to remember each shop we went past earlier. It was 7 pm at this stage and was quickly getting dark, we could hear people from inside the mosque we walked past.
“I am sure we didn’t go past a mosque,” Ant said as we both looked up and down the street. I couldn’t remember what we had gone past, I was still agitated by the group meeting and too involved in our conversation to really notice what was around me, or at least take it in enough to navigate my way home.
We were lost in a foreign town, with no way of finding out where we were staying, no water and it was getting dark.
“OK let’s go back to that road we saw at the beginning. Maybe that’s the right one and we can re-trace our steps.” Ant suggested so we headed back down the hill towards the road that may be right. We got there and I looked around questioningly, it did have a weird shop at the end so we decided to walk down and it must be right. We walked past a group of local guys who looked at us questioningly and kept going up a winding hill until we got the top and realised… it was defiantly not right. So we headed back to the main road.
“Let’s go back further we need to re-trace our steps,” Ant repeated again
“No, we need to ask someone for help.” I argued “Livingston! That is the name of the guest house.” I remembered, (it was his wifi password)
“No, it’s the name of the man who owns it.” Ant reminded me
“It’s still worth a shot,” I argued while he kept insisting we headed back away from the town and re-trace our steps. Once we were on the main road I dived into the nearest shop which looked friendly and asked: “Do you know where Livingston Guest House is?” The two men looked at each other perplexed as I continued to describe the surroundings until they gave us a few directions going back out of the town. It seemed like the best shot so we headed back they way they told us and the way Ant thought we should go.
We started happily walking down the road, but it still didn’t feel right and by this stage, it was very dark, and we didn’t bring our torches. Before we kept walking I once again asked a local shop, this time a mechanic if we were going the right way.
“No, it’s just residential down here. No hotels” his accent was thick and he was clearly the only one there who could speak enough English to talk to us.
“Well it is a home, with some extra rooms,” I argued
“Who are you visiting?” He questioned as we continued to explain the guest house, finally out of sheer desperation I announced: “Mr Livingston, we are staying with Mr Livingston at his Guest House.” A look of recognition passed over the man’s face and he quickly turned and spoke to his friend in a language I could not understand.
“Yes, yes.” He answered quickly, “I know Mr Livingston, he goes to my church.” After discussing with his friends he offered to find us a tuk-tuk and tell the driver where to take us, normally this is the stage where I would run away screaming for fear of being kidnapped, but I was desperate and I was pretty sure with Ant’s size he could take down an Indian guy pretty easily if he needed to. So we agreed and went back to the main road, where after a few attempts we flagged down a tuk-tuk and agreed on a price 20INR, local prices- no need to haggle.
We climbed into the tuk-tuk and headed back up the hill we had climbed half an hour before, I looked at my watch 7:15, if we were lucky we would still manage to arrive before dinner and not have created any worry- for anyone but ourselves. We drove past a sign for Rainbow cottages and guest house, I still wasn’t convinced but Ant was sure he recognised the name.
We got further and further down the road, which had gone horizontally off the main road and finally I started to recognise the road, we pulled up outside the house and I could have hugged the driver. We were back! We both walked into the courtyard, to find only a few of our fellow travellers sat ready for dinner, as they questioned
“Where have you two been?”
“Well….” I said and told them the whole story of getting lost and wandering around. The next day we walked back to the road with a bigger group and realised we had only been 3 shops away from our road when we stopped. But oh well, we arrived safely and have a story to tell.