Back in Madurai. Great.
My flight in was fairly uneventful. To sum up: an old lady stole my window seat and my in-flight magazine. Too tired to fight an octogenarian, I sat down in the middle seat and chatted to the man next to me. Turns out he was one of the lovelier people I’ve met in India and he had his personal driver drop me off at the hotel instead of finding a Tuk Tuk on my own in the dark. Win. We spent the whole ride into town chatting about Indian food and the best places to visit up the coast. It was refreshing talking to a genuinely nice man in India.
When I arrived at the hotel the staff were ecstatic to see me. Everyone came out of their rooms to see that I had returned safely.
“But where is your friend?” They asked.
“She’s not coming back for a few days” I said.
This seemed to be a trend in the city. Apparently we had made an impression during our 24 hour stay. Random people stopped me every hundred meters or so in the streets to ask where my sister had gone!
The owner of the hotel wanted to hear all my stories about Sri Lanka, and he checked me in to a cozy single room for myself. He even went as far as to kill MOST of the cockroaches in my room.
He looked embarrassed as I caught him stepping on one.
“Cockroaches?” I asked as he slid his foot casually across the floor after stomping on one.
“Ahh… Errr..” He stammered, trying to come up with something to say.
“Cockroaches don’t bother me!” I smiled as I dragged myself and all the luggage in behind me. I now had a lot of luggage. Kelsi and I both have 75L packs for the trip. Kelsi’s bag alone weighs 20 kilos. Then I had my purse, which was like hauling around bricks with the lonely planet guide inside. What in the world am I going to do with all this? Not knowing the answer, I just went to bed.
The next day I heard from Kelsi.
“Sorry dude, with the holiday here I can’t even get a response on my visa until the 17th at the earliest.”
That was 8 days away. Screw that. I’m sure Madurai is a lovely city, but it was beginning to be my least favorite in India. I’m not sitting here for a week.
Luckily, Myles was on the coast. He was supposed to meet up with us to travel through Kerala for a couple weeks. When we found out about the visa issue he had already booked flights to Trivandrum. He was hanging out in Kovalam waiting for our next move.
“Okay Kelsi, I’m going to Kerala, I’m bringing our bags and we can meet up there.”
There were daily flights from Colombo to Trivandrum, so it shouldn’t be a problem to fly in that port instead.
I felt bad though, Kelsi was NOT having a good time.
“I’ve been to two Embassy’s, I’m paying three times the amount I should on a closet sized room, I’ve made two women cry today, I had to PAY for my deportation flight back, AND I had to pay for another Sri Lankan visa on arrival since mine had expired.” Worst day ever. Luckily, her plan was to head back to Hikkaduwa and wait it out on the touristy beaches. Not the worst place to be deported to…
After a huge fiasco on my end, I finally figured out my plan. The trains were full for the next three days at least, but the waiter at the only hotel with wifi in Madurai was nice enough to help me out.
“You can take three buses to get to Kovalam. But I’m not sure the best route” he said.
He called all of the bus companies for me. Which is the best route? When do they all leave? How long will this all take?
Before I knew it I had an eight hour day ahead of me. Madurai to Nagarcovil, Nagarcovil to Trivandrum, Trivandrum to Kovalam. I had great instructions from Myles on where he was staying in Kovalam: “It’s near to the lighthouse, by Ganesh tattoo… I don’t know the name. Maybe Seabreeze?” Thanks Myles.
The only concern: I had about 100lbs and 150 litres of luggage to carry. Well, it’s that or I hang out in Madurai forever!
I spent the evening in contemplation back at the hotel. I played hide and seek with the mouse-sized cockroach for a while (it won), watched a movie, and finally sat down to think about what the hell I was doing in India.
I was amazed at how much India had changed in the week I was gone. I went from hating the men, hating getting ripped off, and hating the crazy noise and bustle to having a very welcoming return. I had a safe ride in from the airport, a warm welcome from the hotel staff, my waiter went out of his way to help me with buses and I didn’t even mind the honking. Maybe I needed the break, or maybe my outlook on everything had changed, but for some reason I knew this second journey in India was going to be very different!
“And hey, if you get stuck anywhere at all, give me a call” said the waiter “I have a motorbike and I’ll come pick you and your 3 tonnes of luggage up anywhere you get stuck!”
I laughed. Oh god, please don’t let THAT happen!
Back in Madurai. Great.