04.01.2017 - 05.01.2017
With our farewells to the pigeons complete we were wheels-rolling at 6:30.
We stopped for a Chai and a bite to eat on the way out. The Chai stops are something we really look forward too. The artistry that goes with making the perfect cuppa is not lost on any of the chai baristas. Each morning we leg it for about two hours, 70km-ish, and then we stop. Stretching tired and simultaneously skittish legs we get a chance to say hello to some new faces and it's also a chance for someone to take the title of India's finest Chai (according to some british types in a tuk tuk).
Today we had a pre-planned tourist destination. The mighty Jog Falls. India's highest falls as the waters of the Sharavati River cascade over the red sandstone and plummet down to continue their route out to the Indian ocean. Except today someone seemed to have turned the tap off. It's dry season in India and a dry waterfall looks remarkably like a cliff. Though I exaggerate a little. There was enough water to identify that some of it was falling and so the pedants amongst us were content. We also discovered that a dam has been built upstream which essentially controls the flow of the falls and they've not been the same since its construction. The air was cooler here, fresher and the vegetation along the river lush and green. The view was very satisfying and at the same time as admiring it we got to play with an extremely cute little puppy that had been tugging at trouser legs and followed us from the car park. The bridge over the river offered wonderful views and we stopped to take pictures. And then we heard the roars of excitement as we turned around to see Ollie and Squirrel hurtling along the bridge to say hello. Ollie's pumping fist and Squirrels grin told us all we needed to know. Two had become three and you know what they say; two's company, three is a race.
In one of those wonderful moments where life unknowingly synchronises itself we found that Ollie, Al and I all had the drivers' seats. In scenes reminiscent of some sort of Anglo-Indian Italian Job, three Tuk-Tuks absolutely bombed it down winding forest roads descending from the mountains as we went. Weaving in and out of each other, the wind roared though the tuks, back tyres squealed around corners and front wheels did that bouncing shimmy as our partners shifted their weight in the back seat trying to keep our inside wheels grounded. Squeals of fear and delight came from Tony's back seat as an hour and a half of sheer happiness flew by. We only had one near miss with a truck too but this time we were all out of the way and safe as its blaring horn and massive wheels thundered by. Boys own stuff. It was like adventure go-karting. In Olliems words, "We'll park 'em off in half an hour, so let's thrash the arse off them now!"
As for our route, our plans had changed again, we'd be pushing on through. No Gokarna for us; we'd be supping beer in Goa by sunset.
On the motorway we started spotting some other Tukkers as everyone's routes began to converge on Palolem. We also caught up with Rich the videographer who was hunting us Adventurists, Nick, his driver pulled along side us as Rich began asking how we were finding it. We squealed something back at him whilst narrowly avoiding a nonchalant cow.
The border guard at the entrance to Goa waved us through, "Welcome to Goa," he said. Ten minutes in and we noticed the bottle shops. Booze is far more easily accessible in Goa. Which is now a Union State of India. Essentially self-governing but holding allegiance to India and, on occasion New Delhi holds on to the reins for a bit until the situation calms down again. An hour into Goa, we pulled up outside Kate's Cottages, our home for two nights. Greetedby Kate herself who was a fantastic host. The beach lay fifty metres away; we'd done over four hundred kilometres and it was time to let our hair down. We started with Goan fish curry at a candlelit table on the beach, we finished doing enormous jaegerbombs dancing to Toto's Africa in a bar called Neptunes with the sea on three sides of our little peninsula. "I'd bless the rains..."