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Day 8: The Caravan Splits

There is always a certain amount of stress and conflicting personalities on any sort of adventure like this, which is one of the main reasons I generally prefer to do them alone.  While I did enjoy the company of Mucho Nacho, it has been clear from the beginning that I’m just considerably more laid back yet want to focus primarily on the experience of the journey.  I simply don’t believe that driving a 7hp three-wheeler 3000+km across a country is a mechanism for tourism, if I want to go to tourist spots I will travel as a tourist or a backpacker.

As a result of this difference in attitudes and my desire to drive during the daylight (meaning being on the road by 6AM), our caravan has split up today – we may attempt to reform at some point, but honestly I don’t think it’s terribly likely (*April 5 @ 5:45AM – We may do a shorter day today and see if they can catch up after talking it over with them).  It has been building for a couple days as Tak & I have gotten up and forged 2-3 hours ahead then stopping early while they caught up, but today it came to a head – I wanted to service my rickshaw today (very important) and stay in the nice hotel here while Malena & Adam wanted to drive *south* (the “wrong” way) to a tourist spot and get their rickshaw serviced tomorrow.  I really enjoyed their company in the evenings around the dinner table but I’m not willing to lose nearly a day to stick with them at this point.

In an interesting twist, Tak is with me (we’ve been getting along quite well and have similar attitudes on this journey) and will probably stay with me for the rest of the trip, thus splitting up the Macho Nucho team.  I’m really enjoying his company and am quite happy to have found someone who has such a similar attitude of looking to enjoy the experience to the fullest and not just check off a list of things to visit from a book (much like Rob & Will on the Mototaxi Junket).  Too bad he’s not a hot single woman.  ;)

Today, we wandered around the city and took care of many important errands.  Our rickshaw has been fully serviced and tuned, including changing the engine and transmission oil (which was some of the blackest, nastiest looking stuff I have ever seen come out of an engine), replacing the head gasket, tuning our air/fuel ratio, replacing our broken rod sleeves and re-greasing the joints, fixing the duct taped spark plug wire, getting our speedo/odometer cog replaced and fixed (it broke yesterday), getting our replacement inner tube and tire mounted, and rotating our tires so that our almost bald rear-right tire is now our spare. 

It was also great fun to hang out with the mechanics working out of a hut on the side of the road and shoot the breeze with them while they worked, as well as learn a lot more about the engine and the rickshaw (I have definitely learned a ton about this little 150cc beast) – this was the type of experience in India that no tourist will ever get, and it’s more meaningful (in this situation) to me than seeing a temple.

Additionally we removed all the built up trash from the rickshaw (water bottles, wipes, etc.) and cleaned it out of dust, dirt, and spilled oil/gas.  We went grocery shopping and bought healthy snacks, hand cleaning fluid, extra rags, and window cleaner (the crap that accumulates inside and outside the front window is incredible).  Finally we grabbed some beers and vodka to celebrate a bit tonight.

Tomorrow we expect to get ~430km closer to Kolkotta on NH5, then break off around it and take slower roads up towards Darjeeling.  Depending on how things turn out, we’re hoping we will overshoot a bit and be able to spend a day in Darjeeling (I really want to see the snow leopards at the zoo) before an easy final jaunt up to Gangtok to finish things off next Saturday.

(Written Sunday, April 4 @ 5:01PM)

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