The rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated. You probably recognise the quote and how very apt. It has taken a few days to get back to anywhere with enough semblance of order to provide (reliable) internet. If you could call Darjeeling in any way orderly that is. It is pasted to the side of several vertical drops of many thousands of feet, and a few arms and legs too I think.
Since the last time I popped my head up, we left Matt Can Do in a 5 k log jam of trucks and buses which took about two hours to negotiate. Yep, count the seconds. Count the lung damage. This was followed by a 50 k up hill and 50 k down hill which took the rest of the day. Bent doesn't seem to describe the road adequately. There is even a town on it called 11 bends Kitana. Just for amusement, our intrepid leader Mike Ferris was tootling along in front of me on said 5,000 foot mole hill, uphill in a straight line when he decided to lie down for a little rest. He was mightly enraged with himself because he hasn't crashed for 7 years. Explanation: black ice. During the traverse we had 5 guys crash 7 times. Scary doesn't even come close. No major injuries. People always say to be careful of black ice. I'd like them to explain how that actually works, becuase so far no one has a strategy to deal with it, no matter how "careful" they are.
Two days ago one of our number nailed a little girl on a pushie who decided to cross the "highway" without looking. The ensuing melee was not pretty. Same day we saw a local motorbike rider nail a pedestrian. Are we beginning to see a pattern here? Today one of ours slipped off on an off camber wet downhill bend, once again unharmed. One crashed crossing the rail lines from the "Toy Train" which still inhabits these environs. It was cool and damp and very very oily. It was almost inevitable.
The ascent of the mountain to Darjeeling was the best ride yet, helped in no short measure by tha fact that I think I am finally well again. No headache, earache, toothache, temperatures, aches and pains and after 11 days, no more blood in my snot! The main road up was suffering from the usual landslides so we has to seek and alternate route. Yeah, I know, I had visions of 150 k of boulders, but it was better than the main route to the extent that Mike Ferris will be bringing his future clients that way. And almost NO traffic.
Some sanity has returned however upon arriving at the beautiful Elgin Hotel in Darjeeling. Everything seems to work!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It is a really old colonial building owned by the son of some big international hotel group. It is painted, varnished, waxed, polished and scrubbed within an inch of its life. It has award winning gardens ans a multitude of dogs belonging to the owner, including two Samoyeds and a Sydney Silky. The staff have received training and it is not, repeat NOT falling down. It is in stark contrast to the rest of Darjeeling.
If I can just stay well, happy days.
Oh, and the bike hasn't broken down since day three!