The one where Val loses all her dignity.
Getting to and getting sick in Darjeeling, India.
On our way out of Varanasi we were mobbed by rickshaw drivers, each shouting numbers without really even listening to where we were going. We chose one who gave us a reasonable price when we said which train station we were heading to and ignored the guys shouting over him ridiculously low numbers. We thought it only fair that once we agreed to something not to back out.
You would think that that’s fair.
Of course, a block or so later, the driver pulled over and demanded more money. He told us that the station we were going to was very far and we argued back that we told him which station we were going to and that he had agreed on the price.
He wouldn’t move though and we finally gave in for 25 more rupees. Which is about 50 cents. And I know that may not seem like much, especially divided by two, but it’s the principle. And getting ripped off, literally taken for a ride, is never a fun thing.
We got to the station and waited. And waited. As it turned out our train was running about 2 hours late. During the course of sitting there, doing nothing, a man with his pants open and his penis out kept talking incessantly and trying to come over to me.
And a bird pooped on me. Which you all have told me is good luck. But whatever.
Finally the train came to a completely different track than the one we’d been waiting for and so we moved. As it pulled up it looked, somehow, more crowded than usual and we had to crawl over others to get to our beds. Of course, there were people sleeping in our reserved spots when we got there. And so we kicked them out. But they kept insisting on trying to sit there. Even though we had reserved bunks and just wanted to sleep. So much for the upper bunks always working out.
I couldn’t get comfortable that night, and kept worrying about my bags getting stolen or someone trying to sit next to me. And, believe it or not, a full backpack does not make for the softest of pillows. So I hardly slept.
We finally pulled up to the station about 2 hours later than planned. But we were still a 3 or so hour drive from our final destination.
As we exited we were immediately bombarded with share jeep drivers all quoting too high prices. We eventually got them down to a reasonable, but still higher than it should be price. And we got into a jeep with two other girls that was leaving in “ten minutes.” An hour later the jeep still wasn’t full and the driver got angry and kicked everyone out and told us he was no longer going.
We all scrambled to find other jeeps and they all were telling us much higher prices. We finally got one to agree to our original price and so we got in and actually left soon after.
Three hours later, we pulled into Darjeeling. Jaime and I weren’t sure where to go but we finally kind of found the way to a hotel from our guidebook. It was full, of course. So we headed next door and took a room because we were exhausted. It ended up being a little too cold and a little too damp with a disgusting bathroom but, for the moment, it would do.
I will give Darjeeling this: in the time it took for us to walk from the jeep to find a hotel room we weren’t hassled or bothered once. Life was just going on around us. And it was chilly, sweatshirt weather, a far cry from the 100 degrees we’d been getting everywhere else. It could actually be a town in India I actually like.
Of course, I didn’t really get much time to appreciate it. We walked around a little on the first day but by that night I was feeling sick. I just wanted to go to bed early, so Jaime stayed out and drank with some other travelers (something neither of us have in a very long time), and I just went to bed ungodly early.
And the next day we tried to go out but after I had been to the bathroom every half hour that morning and promptly threw up my lunch, we just decided to head back and lay in bed watching Friends (Jaime wasn’t doing much better than me, though his had a layer of alcohol behind it).
And watching Friends just makes me want to move home and have an awesome apartment and get married. (It has not, however, convinced me over the baby thing.)
And here I will tell you two things you never wanted to ever know about me:
- When desperate times call for desperate measures, and I’ve held it all in for as long as humanly possible because we had run out of toilet paper and it was too late to buy any anywhere and the water wasn’t even running, and so I went to sleep having to go, and woke up several times during the night having to go, and even dreamt that a friend lent me her roll of toilet paper, I will eventually give in and sacrifice a sock so I can wipe up after myself after using the damned toilet. I am also not above picking that sock up out of the trash several more times so I could reuse it because it’s still too early for anywhere to be open to run and buy a damned roll of toilet paper.
- I sometimes have trouble gaging where my ass is in relation to the squat toilets. And, therefore, I have pooped on the floor of way too many bathrooms in India. Yes, I told you that.
Can you believe no one wants to marry this girl?
On a happier note: Darjeeling at least looks pretty…