One of the ongoing challenges that the teams were given during the rally was to get photographs with featuring team members posing with some of the owners of southern India’s finest mustaches. The Tuk and Rollers were up to the challenge and found quite a few fellas sporting bumper crops of whiskers on their upper lips.
The day’s drive between towns was only about 120 KM but including finding the answers to the day’s challenges, which involved a detour deep into hilly, humid jungle terrain surrounding Coutrallam, the addition to the odometer measured somewhere around 180 KM. We traveled up through a tiger reserve (didn’t see any tigers, and not sure we wanted to since they roam freely and our little tuk tuk packs a whooping 7 HP with which to keep us from becoming a happy meal for a big cat). We visited a temple high in the hills. We didn’t venture inside but it had a very surreal quality to it as the chanting coming from within was at full throat and coupled with the mountainous surroundings and cascading run off flowing rapidly through the nearby creek, this place conjured up a snap shot of India that could have been from a hundred years or so in the past.
We wound our way back down the hill across the valley and then up the other side to visit and take a quick shower in a waterfall. Monkeys watched our every move and pillaged rickshaws four fingering any and everything they could get their little monkey hands on. They snagged a two liter bottle of pop out of one team’s rickshaw climbed a tree and from 30 feet above shared it with each other and spilled some of it on us just for monkey laughs. They even tried to take the key out of one team’s ignition.
After coming out of the mountains and pointing south, we had maybe 80 KM to go to reach the finish line. The rest of the drive was through fields of banana trees, rice paddies, and a pretty sizable wind farm which was very close to the coastal city that was to be our rest stop for the night. Our last challenge was to stop in a town that was 22KM from Kanyakumari and to ask someone what the department was known for. At first, the answer we got was shrugged shoulders. “Are you sure there’s nothing unusual,” we asked once again just to be sure. All of a sudden about four officers realized what we were talking about, craned their necks, and pointed up. In the large tree in front of the station and above our heads, there were bats, about 200 of them. They told us that the bats hang out in the tree all day, and leave every night aroun 8 PM.
We got on the highway and raced the sun hoping to catch sunset at our destination which is a medium sized seaside town. We cranked the rickshaw up to about 70 KM which is about where we topped out for the week. Despite our efforts we missed the sun’s exit by about five minutes. It was okay though, we met up in the hotel bar to share a beer and some happy hour snacks (mushroom Manchurian, Chicken 65) with a few other teams. We rolled the odometer past 1000 KM today and are all set for tomorrow’s drive to the finish line.
Tuk and Roll!!!