India - Uttar Pradesh - Varanasi
3 Feb 2005
We survived to 16 hours in an Indian train and it wasn't that bad after all. The train was actually quite comfy, but made its way at 40 Km/h so it took around five hours more than it should have taken. However, we were told to expect this to happen everytime we take a train in this wonderful country. There was obviously enough time to make a friend in the trip, quite an atypical bloke who was going to Varanasi for a wedding and started drinking whisky in the early morning and wanted to play ludo with us. Quite an experience.
We got to Varanasi and, of course, no one had ever heard of our names at the hotel where we had booked a room, so we were taken by the taxi driver to Elvis Guesthouse. The name should be giving you a clue already of how unique this place is... We are really enjoying our stay at Varanasi and I think it's partly thanks to the good atmosphere you can enjoy at the rooftop of this guesthouse. We have made already so many friends there, but especially two, David from Puerto Rico and Madhu from Buenos Aires. Really nice people and it's so interesting to talk to them. We are even developing a new 'theory of evolution of the souls' that might erase our Western escepticism towards any kind of belief. It would make a nice change. Perhaps this is no new discovery and someone more up-to-date than us in these matters knows of some philosopher that has already written about it, in which case we would be happy to know who and what he has written, so please tell us.
We took a boat trip along the Ganga River and that was very impressive, to say the least. We are not very sure which was older, whether the boat or the boatman, but we went for it and it was an amazing experience. We were able to enjoy it at dawn, one of the best times to see it, but this time there wasn't much of a sunrise, because it was a very misty morning and the place had a ghostly feeling to it, adding greatly to it the fact that there were cremations taken place and it was very shocking to see whole bodies burning in flames and cows floating all over the place and then people having a bath or even brushing their teeth there... Amazing!!! The cycle of life and death and perhaps even reencarnation is soooo present here. All sides of life and death seems to colide in the dirtiness of this unbelievable city. We also visited a few temples, but to be honest, they all seem very alike once you've seen twenty, and also the Muslin neighbourhood of the city where everybody seems to be weaving 'brocade' on silver and it's very nice to see how the work. At last we had a nice experience in a Muslim area and this has made me very happy, because I have so many Muslim friends and I knew it had to be possible, because I've been very happy in the company of Suzanne, Debbie, Ali and all of you who are reading this now.
Mikel had a special treat yesterday. He paid for an Ajurvedic Massage, which meant that a tiny old man came with us to the hotel room and not only asked Mikel to take all his clothes off, but also took HIS clothes off. To make the whole experience a lot more surreal, if possible, I was there taking photos of the whole thing and the room had clothes hanging to dry all over the place, not to mention the mosquito net. You'll soon get photos of all this, we hope. The day ended up at Elvis' rooftop listening to Juan Luis Guerra with David and Madhu, our new friends.
We'll be taking a train to Mandma (not too far from Mumbai) on the 4th (tomorrow) and we've been told this train takes 25 hours. Now we know it might be 30, if lucky. Anyway, the plan is to take a bus or whatever there is from there to Ajanta, where we will meet our good friend Toni and visit some amazing caves. We are really looking forward to it.
Thank you so much to Esteve, Sergio and to Vero for their last messages. We love you both so much!!! As usual, a very special hug to all our relatives.
Take care and enjoy life!
Idoia & Mikel.
P.S. Un pequeno comentario a todos los cabrones que no nos han mandado ni un solo mensaje (vease Alberto, Colin, Mareva y a todos los demas). Os echamos de menos!