6.22.2011

The Story of How I Renewed my Love for Cherrapunjee

(And how I nearly died once more)

As I left off last time, I spent Saturday morning staring at views like this while reflecting on the concept of faith:


 I ate an interesting breakfast which consisted of an undercooked boiled egg then had to pay my bill for my unplanned stay at the resort. It was quadruple the price of what I would have paid to stay in the village guesthouse and as I tallied up my remaining cash I realized I was running really tight. Then the owner's explained that if I hiked to Nangriat that day and didn't come back out until Sunday that I wouldn't be able to find a taxi back to Shillong. This was because Don Bosco's body was being taken through Cherra on Sunday so everyone was either attending or had already reserved the few taxis. A feeling of defeat swept over me again. I couldn't afford another night at the resort, I couldn't hike down to the village and stay there and I didn't know what to do. I decided I'd just head back to Shillong and not do any hikes or see any of the bridges. The owner's helped me call the hotels in Shillong and every bed was booked. That's when they offered to let me stay in a tent which was just in my price range. I still didn't know how I'd get a ride out Sunday though so they offered to let me go with some workers of theirs that were headed to Shillong on Sunday already. Everything was falling into place!!

I decided to take a day hike to the Unomonoi living root bridge. I let the morning rain finish then headed off. This hike was different than the previous days because these were stone steps and they get really mossy especially this time of year. This hike is also very steep so the ingredients were just right for lots of slipping and falling potential. I slipped three or four times going down and can't believe I didn't fracture or sprain my wrists. The last slip was the scariest, I lost my balance to the side and slid down off the path a few feet. There were many places with steep drop offs and got very lucky that this wasn't one of those spots. I would've fallen down into the forests of North East India to potentially never be seen again! My resounding thought, though, was "How in the heck am I going to climb back out of here?" It was SO steep and my legs were shaking just going downwards! I got all the way down and was ecstatic that I chose to do this hike and here is why:



It was so gorgeous! I went swimming in the natural pool and didn't see another soul the whole time I was down there! These living root bridges are unbelievable. Hundreds of years ago the villagers started training these roots across rivers so they could cross even when the water was high. They still utilize them and they say each bridge can last 500 hundred or more years! I hung around down there for about an hour soaking in the beauty and psyching myself up for the trek out. It had taken me almost 2 hours to get down so I planned for 3 hours to get back, assuming it takes longer to hike up a mountain than down.
I made a pact with myself that every 15 minutes I would stop for 5 to recuperate and that at the halfway point I would stop for 30 minutes. I left and right away had to ascend the steepest of the steps, holy hell it was so physically demanding! I had picked up a tree branch to use as a hiking stock and I feel like that helped a lot. I pushed for 15 minutes, rested and then pushed hard for another 15 minutes then all of a sudden I saw the halfway point! What?! I got there and took this horrifying video:


I apologize for how scary I look! I was wrong in the video, it had taken me 35 minutes but still, I couldn't believe it! I rested and kicked more butt getting out. I only fell once going up and that was because my lovely walking stick snapped and I took a face plant :/ My body remains bruised from this trek but it was oh so worth it. I made it out in about 1 hour and got back to the resort dripping in sweat and with a huge grin on my face!

I took a cold bucket shower, ate some fresh fruit and read for the rest of the afternoon outside while drinking milk tea. As I was sitting there reading the daughter who helps run the resort came to me with an envelope and said I had some change from my earlier room bill. I opened it and inside was 600 rupees. This was about 1/3 of the cost of the bill and exactly how much the tent was going to cost me that night. I was in shock at their generosity. I spent a lot of time talking to the other families staying there and enjoyed a great dinner (which consisted of my new favorite veggie called bhat kerela). I went off to sleep in my tent which had been placed under a pagoda to protect from the monsoons that night. I laid in there listening to all of the different bugs buzzing and the rain falling hard. It was perfect. 



The following morning I again was blessed by the owners of the resort. They didn't charge me full cost for the tent and the ride back to Shillong was completely free, it is usually quite expensive. I don't know what I did to deserve such kindness but they went above and beyond. I made it safely back to my home just barely as we came within centimeters of two head on collisions. I think the rules of the road need some overhauling! I walked home from the sumo stand and when I had to go up and down some stairs over the train station I think my legs cried a little bit. They almost locked up going down the steps! I stopped in a local restaurant for some take out when I noticed how horrible I smelled! Then I looked in a mirror and saw the dirt smeared all over my face. This is what happens when you ride through the dusty streets in 100+ degree heat with the windows down!

Anyways, if you ever find your self in the North East of India, I think I know of a really good place to stop by :) 

2 comments:

  1. Hooray! Redmeption! And a big bucket of relief, I should imagine! I'm so glad this second part of the trip made up for all the horrid stuff that happened in the first part. It looks beautiful :)

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  2. you should write a book! you can dedicate it to me if you want . i wont mind hahah misss you!!

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