Early birds and water snakes

Thursday, Mar. 5, 10:01 PM
Murudeshwara, Karnataka, India

I am still not used to going to bed early and getting up before sunrise. Like right now, I’ve got to be up at 5:30am, we have a big day of cycling in the hottest and most humid weather to date, I should go to bed right now, but it’s freakin’ 10pm, and I CAN’T sleep this early. It doesn’t matter if I’m tired or not, it’s just not my nature. Believe me, I try it all the time, and by 1am I’m so frustrated that I swear I’m going to buy sleeping pills tomorrow. I swear again. Sigh.

But this is our schedule now. It’s hot, but it’s a manageable strategy: sleep early, do the hard work (or fun stuff like hiking) in the cooler morning, seek shade and siesta from noon-4pm (preferably in or near water), or under a fan in a hot guest house room, and have a short evening before bedtime. Now that we’re far far away from tourist spots catering to westerners, there’s no nightlife so to speak of, so it makes sense. Someone please convince my body of this?

Since it seems like I can only write at night, when everyone’s asleep, in my own time, here I go. I’ll adapt soon enough. But I’ll have to try and make it quick.

1,300+ m.c.escher-esque steps down to the bottom
1,300+ m.c.escher-esque steps down to the bottom
Boulder-jumping, super-sized!
Boulder-jumping, super-sized!

Yesterday we took a 6:30 bus from Hanovar into the nearby hills to visit Jog Falls, India’s tallest waterfalls. It wasn’t the ideal time of year to go as the falls are best in Aug-Sept, during the rainy season, but we wanted to hike anyhow and give it a shot. It was also our first bus ride in 2 months and it reinforced (as I was sure it would) how glad I am to be traveling by bicycle. But it was pleasant enough to pay 40 purees and let the old bucket of bolts lumber up the hills (no faster than 10km/hr for much of it) for two hours… it would’ve been a ride from hell otherwise, as pretty as it was, which is one reason we are traveling only along the coast for the South Indian leg of this trip.

Upon arrival we ate delicious banana pancakes (like a big crepe) in one of six identical privately-run stalls at the entrance of the park, to store some energy for the big hike down to the bottom. We sized-up the nearly 1000-foot ravine, hopped the concrete wall and sign that read “Entry is Strictly Prohibited” with skull & crossbones (all the Karnatakan beaches bear this similar message about swimming, courtesy of the district Police) and began our descent down into the canyon. The 1300-step Escheresque concrete stairway, a work-in-progress that zig-zags steeply down and without handrails, having us duck repeatedly under the construction pipes which transported the liquid concrete down from above, was incredibly fun, as you’d never have the opportunity to play on such a rough monstrosity as this back home. You’d think descending would be easy, but half way there my legs were so tired, and I wouldn’t dare think of climbing back up, yet. A half hour later we got to the bottom portion of the steps which still had the wooden molds in place, and were still hardening with water cascading down them. I took off my flip flops so as not to slip. The emerald-green pools we could see from above were still very far away, across a long field of boulders. Another 45 minutes of careful barefoot boulder-jumping brought us to the bottom of the falls, 4 in all, and two big pools which I swam-in. (I imagine that during peak-season, the pools would cover much of this valley like a big lake.) It still being early morning, we had the whole valley to ourselves. A German couple made their way down next, and the guy swam into a cave on the far side of the largest pool and reportedly stirred a 6-foot snake, who slithered into the water with him. I swam to the far end of the other pool to feel the rain-like drops of the fall named “Rocket” on my face… luckily I met no snakes.

Damn, it’s after 11. I really have to go. Good night, sleep tight, and don’t let the snakes bite!



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