I woke up looking for the large banana milkshake before realising it was a dream.
Unperturbed, I woke Bobby up and we started on our way at 4:30am.
We were already on the main highway and 12 km ahead of us lay the large town of Chidambaram. Do we take the easy to navigate bypass which would add 2km to our route or do we navigate through the busy town? I decided on the latter at I was concious about ensuring our route was the shortest but one which the Walkmobile could pass through as well.
The problem was our speed. We had already faced major problems with impatient drivers way back in Karaikal and I certainly did not want to repeat that headache. I briefed our driver and assistant on what was approaching. I suggested they stick with us until the traffic became a problem. They could then shoot ahead for 1 or 2 km where they could stop to buy the daily supplies we needed. Once we had caught up with them, the Walkmobile could move on further. Although it was the time of day allotted for me to update the map, blog and social media, I decided to stay walking with Bobby as he would need a spotter through the busy high street and I knew the distance through the town was over 5km.
On our way to the town the sun rose and along with it came a very heavy downpour. Had the rain continued for longer, it would have sapped our spirit but luckily it stopped after 30mins and although we were wet through, it was on the cool side leaving us refreshed.
We passed a police checkpoint where the road has staggered barriers. Our bus swept out to navigate and from the opposite direction, a bus was speeding towards us. Upon reaching us, the driver gestured to Bobby to move faster, all the time honking a horn which would have been more at home on a ship. Bobby replied that he was charity walking and this was his speed. The reply from the driver was abuse. It was at this point I unleashed 18 months of pent up tension on the driver in English which surprisingly he seemed to understand. He moved past me and came level with our driver Rahim who gave him more of the same in a more native language.
I felt a little lighter but a little guilty that this driver had suffered for the combined faults of all the other drivers we had witnessed up to now.
We came upon the Kollidam River with a rather impressive bridge which went into the distance for nearly a kilometre.
Eventually we reached the bypass junction and started on our way into town but navigating through these type of streets is slow going. You need to be alert which saps your energy. I also needed to navigate as the route was not straight however I was mindful about using my mobile in the towns due to the fact my last one had been stolen in Ramnad. So we stayed close to the left hand side with me slightly behind and slightly to the right of Bobby to shield him from the mass of traffic that sought the same space we were occupying. Every so often I would unzip my pocket and remove my mobile which was still contained in a Ziploc bag after the last downpour. A quick check on our upcoming route and I would securely whisk it back into its safe location. All the while I was looking over my shoulder and carrying two 1 litre bottles of water. Not an easy juggling act.
In the middle of town we were greeted with the impressive and stunningly ornate tower of the famous Thillai Nataraja Temple rising majestically from over the rooftops.
The earlier rain had given way to extreme heat and the evaporating moisture brought with it humidity. Bobby was very tired and I knew we were not going to make it out of town before requiring a stop. I gestured to the driver who found a spot and we took a rest for lunch. With lunch over,
Bobby walked the remaining 1 km out of town which brought with it a more quiet road. It was towards the end of the day and we seemed to be walking uphill for quite a while.
Along the way, a mother goat and her two baby goats decided to walk with us for a bit. She probably asked us what we were doing but this was another language I hadn’t gotten to grips with.
We found a place to stop for the night but with not a single petrol station in sight, it was on the side of the highway. The breeze was cool and the air was fresh from our elevated position.
Our assistant laid a large square on vinyl on the ground and shielded by the Walkmobile, first Bobby then I took a bucket shower in the open air with the occasional headlamp lighting our large, open-air bathroom.
I slept surprisingly well that night which was partly due the the Walkmobile rocking gently back and forth every time a large vehicle passed by.