yesterday we awoke on the beach, packed up and made tracks to Srivrahndan. after breakfast and water refill, we found out that we could on, in fact, take a ferry accross the creek to continue south but had to catch a mus to mahad and from there get a bus to Diapoli.
a quick note: the guide books don't mention Srivrahdan, but it is one of the cleanest, most organized and friendliest littles towns we're visited. eager help from the locals, great chai, cheap eats and a pristine hidden beach just 1 km from the roundabout at the big tree. we got the impression that tourist very extremely rare. we were treated with exceptional care, but the gem is the town itself: clean streest, wide ravines running infront of each well kept house. idyllic. if you happen to be in the area, check it out. the beach would be perfect for camping and i'm sure the locals would oblige. highly recommended.
we bused to mahad and waited for two hours for the next bus which too us to Ratnigir in four hours. we opted to use bus travel as both a day of rest from the four previous days of 6-9 hours biking, and a good way to cover difficult terrain quickly. in all we made it 100km down the coast.
the nightbus was terrifying and exciting. no lights, inside the bus or on the road it seemed. occasionally the headlights of an oncoming cargo truck, a snap swerve to avoid the collision, skirting a cliff gave and then back to total darkness. eliot and i opted to listen to music through earphones to keep ourselves distracted.
we got off the bus in Ratnigiri with no idea of where to stay or go. in the dim mercury-lamp glow of the bus station parking lot we loaded up the bikes, stray dogs and znoozing beggars watching. we were hopeful - if our time here in india has taught us anything, it's that when you hit bottom, india will provide something for you. you must have faith that thigns will be okay, and then they will be. so, with trepedation we put our feet to the pedals. rats scattered. dogs and cows featsted together on waste and trash in the streets, as we headed into the Ratnigiri night.
... only to hear a familiar voice calling "Hello, my friends!" we looked over to find Daniel, our Alsacian friend from the previous morning standing before a hotel not 30 yards from the bus station, lazily pulling on a cigarette with two friends. he tells us that he's staying in the hotel there, very cheap and clean, convenient and safe. we pull in, pay a scant 416Rs and head around the corner and up some stairs into a shady, blown out bar where we pick up a couple bottles of beer. back in Daniel's room, we sit on the balcony over looking the closed shops and the streets full of grabage and smelling of human and animal waste. we spend the rest of the evening there, talking politics, film and wine over kingfisher beer and beedies. the whole time we shake our heads and think "what are the odds?"
india is magic.