Slow Boat Down the Ganges Update 52
There is a decision I have taken a few days ago, while in Delhi resting and recuperating, that redefined this expedition a little bit. Well, revisited, if not redefined. I am going to have a road support team once again. Much simpler and not as grandiose as the one when Tara and Sam took on the duties. I am getting myself a commercial driver who will drive my car, carry the extra luggage, and meet up with me at the end of each day. I am meeting the driver a couple of days later. I have met or talked to a few, but the unique demands of this journey means that the person driving the car needs to go in with their eyes wide open.
It is a tough job for the road support team. It can become very boring, very quickly. I paddle an average of forty kilometres a day. In a vehicle, on decent enough roads, that’s all of an hour’s drive. Things then tend to turn a little tricky when the meet up needs to happen. Not all villages have well-connected roads, and the onus is on the road support to figure out a village or temple or ghat where the vehicle can reach. What makes it tricky for the driver, is that the next village can be a few minutes drive away. A few minutes that can be covered in a few minutes. But then, a better location found by the road support team can mean an hour or more of paddling for me. At the end of a long day, largely tiring, every additional paddlestroke can become a chore.
With a commercial driver, I think the onus will be largely on me to find the location for the night, figure out from the locals if there is a road leading up to the location, and then tell the driver to reach there. I am certain there will be a learning curve for the driver as well as for me. I only hope that the driver does not figure out a couple of days into the journey that this is a task way more difficult than he had anticipated, and decided to bail on me. That will create a problem.
I am extremely grateful to Dorf Ketal for associating financially with this expedition. Life became a lot more accommodating with the available funds. However, those funds have since been exhausted and all additional expenses have to be further generated by me. Thankfully, I have a brother who is supporting his sibling’s crazy adventure and he just transferred some money to my account that will take care of a part of the cost of the driver and petrol and tolls, etc. Incidentally, he also sponsored the new GoPro Hero 7 Black that will become my primary camera for the rest of the journey.
By the way, the driver is a commercial one and I will also have to pay for his food. He will have to understand that he will need to be sleeping where I sleep, nothing less, nothing more. The contribution by my brother is very very welcome. Thank you a whole lot.
Even though I am happier paddling alone, without road support, but having someone I can call at all times, provides tremendous peace of mind. More importantly, I do not need to carry around all my stuff in the canoe. I have a 500W generator that connects to the car battery, and that is extremely useful at the end of the end when I have to charge the batteries, transfer footage, upload the progress on the website, etc, even if the village is not connected to a convenient electrical outlet.
The other development, which really takes the journey to a whole new level is because of a Facebook friend who I have known for a few years, talked and corresponded with a few times over the years, someone who is an even older fogie than me, retired, loves adventure and travel, has volunteered to come along and drive the car. He does not yet know that I am negotiating with a driver, his brief is to be the driver and he is entirely game. He has almost confirmed, is in the process of finalising his travel plans, and I will tell you who he is once the entire thing is sealed up and confirmed. This will be an awesome addition to the experience I am having and I sincerely hope and wish that he has the experience that I hope he wishes he will have during this journey.
I am repacking my bags. Once again, because there is a car, I might be carrying way more than required. That is not that I am struggling with. What I am struggling with is what to carry with me on the canoe, and what to transport in the vehicle. For sure, I will have my camera equipment with me. But, do I carry the stuff that charges empty batteries? I will carry the portable potty, just in case Nature calls during the day. I will certainly not carry the food bag or the clothes bag. But I will carry a spare set of clothes, and my sleeping bag, but not the air mattress. In fact, the air mattress will be an addition to the luggage, I have not carried it so far. I will carry snacks and munchies on the canoe, but not the stove and the gas canister.
What I need to prepare for is the eventuality when I cannot meet up with the road support team and have to camp out, for whatever reason. What comes with me in the canoe are things to address that eventuality. What goes in the vehicle are things that one will need when things go well. What about Happy Juice, I hear you ask. Happy Juice is essential at the end the day, and there will certainly be enough for a few swigs coming along with me on the canoe, with replenishment in the vehicle.
I am also carrying a tent ... just in case. I understand that not everyone is as crazy as me and sleeping out in the open, exposed to the elements, is not something everyone looks forward to. A tent provides that little extra security and comfort. Note to self: ask the driver if he is comfortable with a blanket or a sleeping bag.
The clothes are also getting a relook. Half sleeved T-shirts are being replaced with full sleeved ones. I also have a beanie to keep the noggin warm. I will be paddling in a rain suit to be able to stay dry. A pair of shorts and a T-shirt go under it. Surprisingly, I have not been plagued by mosquitoes. I still have my anti mosquito cream and a head net that continue to be a part of my carry-along kit.
I am looking forward to getting back on the river. The rib is healing. The pain is still there, but not as much as to hamper resuming the journey. Turning in my sleep is still painful, but not as bad as it was a few days ago. Life is getting to be a little boring while resting, but this was required. I am looking forward to walking into the Bay of Bengal a month down the line. I hope the health and the weather stays in my favour, and I do not have to take any more extended breaks.