At Kochin airport we changed some money and jumped into a private hire taxi that would take us to Fort Cochin where we would be staying. Now we mentioned Emma and Alasdair earlier. They are both our running mates in the race and also the inspiration behind our entry into The Rickshaw Run. Hailing from Cheshire and Scotland via South Africa and en route to Chantilly they're a formidable pair. They along with their Peacock adorned Tuk-Tuk are Team Tuking-Tuk-Tastic!
Anyhow, it was Emma and Al who had the ground in Kochi two days ahead of us and they already knew the lay of the land. Em had told us where to get the taxi we were in and how much to pay. We even had the address to take us right to The Anchor inn on Mackenzie Lane, Fort Kochin. With all this information the first adventure should have been easy. Forty minutes of taxi drive later, Laura and I were looking at each other in a fairly puzzled fashion. We had stopped at ferry port and our driver was telling us the queue was too long to wait, we should go as foot passengers instead. We tried to suggest that the taxi fare was to get us all the way to the hotel but his argument was making sense. Ten minutes ferry and tuk tuk. One hour taxi with air-con and no heavy bags to carry... The ferry it was. We bought tickets for three rupees each and off we went.
On the other side no-one had ever heard of MacKenzie Lane, let alone the anchor Inn. We looked around confused once more until a couple of Aussie guys shouted over and asked did we want to borrow a map. A cold beer and fifteen minutes of cartology later we'd met our first fellow Tuk-Tukkers and were on our way to the hotel. We got in and passed out in our four poster super king; the air conditioning humming its lullaby in the background.
Em and Al woke us at around four and we headed out towards St Francis church where we get our first glimpse of our galavanting steeds.
Now The Adventurists are the company running the show and to be fair they have been very detailed in telling us what to expect, how dangerous the roads are and in giving us plenty of notice for us to create a design for the paintwork on our Tuk Tuk. Laura and I has spent a considerable amount of time procrastinating and generally ignoring demands for artwork. And so it was, on dead line day Emma send us a Whatsapp picture of the beautiful and intricate peacock design she had created, gold embossing and all. We were in trouble. Panicking I grabbed the laptop and opened my old favorite Microsoft Paint. Running with avian theme I went for a Chicken Little motif which was quality in my eyes. Start to finish I'd cracked it in ten minutes. I'd poured myself a beer and was showing it to Laura with no loss of pride. Laura said two things. The first was 'What is it?' The second was 'Oh... It looks... nice.' In hindsight I should have seen it coming, but so lost was I in my efficient brilliance I hadn't noticed the cogs of creativity start turning in my wife's eyes. Two days later a piece or art was presented to me in the form of a Tiger, named Tony henceforth, bright orange and striped black with emerald eyes where our headlights would be and stripey tail coiled up the back. I asked what was wrong with Chicken Little. Laura had thought we could do better.
We rounded the corner into the grass courtyard and before us stood around eighty individually designed and hand painted Tuk-Tuks. We marvelled at their beauty, briefly, and then went to find some cold beers and some fantastically tasty food for dinner. It felt good to be in India.