A trip in Sundarban
But let me tell you a little more about my trip in the heart of the Bengali furnace...
|Sundarbans, West Bengal - May 2013|
Apart from the overwhelming heat and the near-absence of wild animals (we just saw some deers, lizards, monkeys, snakes and birds), we could appreciate the Indian countryside, one of my old dreams!
The advantage of coming in May in Sundarban is that there are no Indian tourists – and apparently they come in herds when the weather conditions are more favourable. And observing wild animals with Indians, that silence bothers viscerally, it's not fun!
The disadvantage of coming in May is that the local people hurry to celebrate the last weddings and therefore there are gigantic speakers (plugged to generators) in each village which blast Bollywood music (when it is not an old scratched and sizzling DVD). Being greeted like that after a very long trip to cross India for a “nature” stay, I swear if the heat had not left me KO, I think that I'd go and yell... At the same time in my daily life I can't do without music so if these speakers brighten up their life, how could I say anything?
With all that, I enjoyed the simple menu of rice, chapatis, dal and vegetables – even if at the end of the 6th meal I started to feel some deficiencies... It also kinda annoyed me responding every day to the same questions of the new backpackers “and do you like working in India?”, “and how long you plan on staying?”, “when have you realised that you wanted to stay?” etc. And I've hated the local rice alcohol which has a horrible taste and almost no alcohol!
But above all I loved the tours in the boat operated by a fisherman in the heart of the mangrove, with roots and branches everywhere. I had to fight to get the second session, which was not in the programme, but I can be quite persuasive ;)
I loved the two hour walk in the village. I got transported somewhere else: perfect sand and cobblestones paths, naked children running after goats, women going to the well, old ladies walking topless, youngsters cycling, girls swimming in the ponds, courtyard of the cob houses full of animals, thatched roofs almost all equipped with solar panels. Almost no garbage lying around. Amazing colours with the sunset. Almost too picturesque to be true...
I loved watching the stars at the night, lying on the ground, with a small breeze, and folk musicians playing...
And I loved basking in the sun all day!
And listen the stories of tigers who eat up humans (40 every year), and fishermen or honey collectors (the villagers who are allowed one month per year to sink into the forest to collect honey) who survived.
I imagine that the Sundarban (meaning the beautiful forest, or the beautiful jungle) looks very different after the rain, when the paddy field are green and the temperatures bearable. Nevertheless, I needed badly a change of air and scene, and I got it!!
A great trip!