● For full details on our route, transport info, hotel details, etc, look at our Google Maps page

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Road to Mount Abu

1st-22nd March

Leg 7 – Jaisalmer to Barmer
Distance – 165kms

Time - 5.5 hours
Average Speed – 30km/h
Road – Good 2 lane highway, very wet!

The first 50km were uneventful, though the dark clouds behind us to the north were looking more threatening and the distant rumble of thunder could be heard. We continued for another 30km, amazed that it still wasn’t raining. All around us the sky was thick black, momentarily lit by brief flashes of sheet lightening. And then the rain came. To start with just small droplets on the visors of our helmets; we pushed on convinced we could out run the storm gaining pace behind us. The heavier rain quickly followed – massive droplets hitting us with the force of hail stones, reducing us to crawling speed. The sheet lightening was joined by vicious forks, to the left and right of the road and seemingly right behind us. The magnitude of the lightening was quite unlike any we’d both ever seen – this was a storm of truly tropical proportions.

We pulled off the road at the first opportunity, a small village with a handful of shacks selling chai and other essentials. By this stage we were unsurprised when half the village (in other words, all the men – the women don’t ever seem to leave their houses) turned out to see the strange arrivals. They were mostly very young and for once not in the least shy. Crowding round us claustrophobically they demanded Ady’s attention and proceeded to give him the Spanish inquisition. It felt a little like a press conference, bar the obvious lack of flashing cameras and we stayed as little time as possible, convincing ourselves and others that the storm was abating. No sooner had we left, the rain slashed down again. The menacing lightening continued and we were forced to pull over time and time again; in a school, a sweet shop, a bus shelter, and once in an HP petrol station whose attendants rudely shooed us from its forecourt as we didn’t want petrol!

Our progress was painfully slow. In the end we were so completely soaked to the skin that we decided to carry on right through to Barmer, now 40km away. The lightening didn’t relent and unsure of what protection the bike would give us we (Sam) feared we’d be struck down. We’d already passed several fallen trees and to our amazement, a large overhead road sign had been hit on one side and was now lying across the middle of the road. By the time we reached Barmer we were freezing cold as well as soaked, despite the still quite balmy air temperature. Barmer was flooded, the roads sitting under twelve inches of water and Ady had difficulty keeping the bike on two wheels as we rode through newly formed rivers. A hotel plucked from Lonely Planet proved a bit of a mission – aside from filling the usual ream of paperwork required from foreign tourists (it’s a bit like big brother here as your every move is documented) we also each had to submit three photos!! The room was only 300 rupees and we were only staying the night! Thankfully, for once, our room was super hot and we were able to lay out the entire contents of our pack to dry.

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