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05/08/2013

The dirty Frenchies exploring Sundarban…

 Here is an interesting angle to tell about my trip to Sundarban...

Departure from Kolkata at 8:30 in the morning for a 3 hour ride in a van falling into pieces. Thighs glued by the sweat to the fake leather seat. No need to complain; better to just try and avoid fainting by swallowing gallons of water. 

 

We arrive at the pier to embark on a motor boat that a guy is vigorously bailing out. It is midday, not a shadow of shadow, and the “cruise” is not ending – an hour and a half by 40 degrees seems to last much longer...

We finally get down on our island, where the eco-village is set up. Hell and damnation, there is network!! I do as planned (be without a phone for 4 days) and switch off my Blackberry as if there was no network: I'm on holidays!

On our left, a kind of big pond of brownish water in which a water buffalo is chilling. And in which we are invited to jump... Since we are not sure whether this is a joke, we first go and drop our stuff in the room. And, to my surprise (and I daresay even relief, since I had opted for “roots” holiday (without electricity)), there is a fan – so I won't die of heat! 

I enter the dark bathroom to discover that...

 

(Click on Lire la suite to read more)


... 1. In fact the fan is just for decoration, there is actually no electricity and 2. The water coming from the taps stinks and there is sediment in the bucket. We therefore reach the obvious conclusion: the water of the shower comes from the natural “swimming pool”. So hop hop, we jump in our bathing suits and run and jump in the muddy pond! And how good it feels! 

The tone is set... Special treatment for my skin which will be repeatedly rubbed with sunscreen, muddy water and mosquito repellent... All this stuff mixed by sweat, because I sweat like a sow. I sweat so much that despite drinking three litres of water every day I hardly pee! 

 

At night, I wake up suffocating. No air under the mosquito net... I'd sleep outside but rats are roaming around. 

Sitting on the floor mats of the main hut, or outside, we have a happy time eating with our fingers!! However the same operation on the boat proves a bit more adventurous: with the wind, we end up splashing curry all over ourselves and with rice in the hair. We live dangerously! 

 

Two days in a row we get up at 5:30 in the morning to spend the day criss-crossing canals of the Sundarban delta, hoping to see a tiger. As we are far East and India has only one time zone, the sun comes out very early. So at 5:30 it is sunny and yet still a bit cool! Up to 6 AM when you feel it's already noon because it is so hot! 

Knocked out by the heat, I divide my time on the boat between deep naps and less deep naps on the mattresses. When a sailor comes out of his bunker with a pillow bearing large white traces (his sweat I presume, myabe others’ too) I am too tired to think and just lay my head on it with delight. I keep pushing back the boundaries of hygiene! 

 

And then they bring us chai. It's funny, the cup has a salty taste. So okay, they probably washed it in the brown water of the river. Normal. Just drink your chai and shut up!

 

We get down from the boat once or twice to climb into an observation tower and watch the animals that come to drink in an artificial clear (rain) water pond. Except that the animals do not come out at noon! Nor should we for that matter! A short walk for twenty minutes and I almost faint from dehydration...

 

The return to Kolkata has something epic since our boat is under repair... 

It takes us fifteen minutes of walk to reach the pier. Then ten minutes to cross the river on a boat overloaded with Indians, bicycles, food etc. Then forty-five minutes on a cart pulled by a type pedalling as a devil and hardly sweating – whereas me on the other side, I sweat just by looking at him! Crossing the main street of the village takes us a long time: it is market day. And we have to cross the river again, on a boat even more loaded. 

Then we hop in the same busted van to Kolkata.  

 

At this stage my head hurts, I am covered in mud, my skin is almost burnt and I am tired... So when someone passes me a guava washed with God-knows-what water, I just have a look at how the driver handles it and just like him I bite into it, to the sheer amazement of the Quebec tourists who are with us!

We finally arrive at the airport in a state of utmost dirtiness. I dream of shampoo, soap for intimate hygiene (because washing myself with water flavoured with Buffalo dung goes well only a few days...), moisturizer, a mirror and tweezers, a deodorant that can actually be of some use etc. But all of this will have to wait... For the moment I make an unconventional use of the toilet hand spree and wash myself as I can in the airport loo! I feel alive again...

 

Good Grief it was hot! 

And how I longed for of a fresh lime soda sweet (not easy to get when there is no electricity...)!

I should have listened to the Bangladeshis who refused to take me on a tour in May or even googled the weather – I just did it right now: “Summer season is here and the region becomes a hut furnace. Days are very hot but nights are comparatively cooler, but are still beyond the comfortable zone. This might not be the most ideal time for sightseeing and jungle activities. Visiting Sundarbans in May will require sun protective gears.”*

NB : My travel buddy asks me to precise that I must be particularly sensitive to heat because he didn’t find it so unbearable…

 

* http://www.mustseeindia.com/Sundarbans-weather

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