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Panjim to Malvan (Tarkali)

90 km (56 miles)

rain -17 °C
View India (Autorickshaw Rally) - 1 Aug to 15 Aug 08 on hilarywh's travel map.

Panjim – Facts
Pop 98,915. Capital of Goa
- Local brews are sold in small shops and holes-in-the-wall.
Feni, made from distilled cashew apple. It is very strong and best mixed with a soft drink. It tastes evil!
Toddy, a fermented brew of coconut sap. Often home made and heady. To wash down the Feni???

Crashed and Burned
Almost all 39 participants leave Hotel Fidalgo with ruined or missing laundry, having been short changed by reception or ripped off by their bureau de change, or finding parts of their rickshaw have been stolen overnight.

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But today we are wearing orange clown wigs and Lindsay paints her face for added effect. We have a different hat for every day of the rally: builder’s hats, cowboy hats, traffic wardens caps, sun hats and my personal favourite, the shower cap.

We are wearing an assortment of head garments for 5 simple reasons:
1) it's making us laugh every morning,
2) it appears to be making the locals laugh, and we need all the friends we can get when breakdowns occur,
3) it gets us noticed by the media and helps raise awareness for the charity event,
4) extra head coverings are good in low speed crashes,
5) hats are a recommended form of protection in extreme sun and torrential rain.

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Our rickshaw engine is gleaming with new nuts and bolts. It doesn’t sound as content as it did last week but it works. After a number of press interviews we flag-off in the centre of Panaji in the rain. We immediately take a wrong turn and so decide to double back and start again with a drive-by the flag-off point horn a blazing. The media loved it. A short distance out of town at the peak of a steep hill we get another flat. As we sit in the rain interviewing each other with the video camera, almost half the teams pass having also reassuringly taken a wrong turn out of Panaji.

Just across the border leaving the state of Goa the roads become impassable. Waterfalls are now raging, rivers are swelling and breaking their banks, homes are flooding. We drive over bleak plateaus reminiscent of the Yorkshire moors on a winter day. All but 2 teams soon arrive at a road block and we are all directed back the way we came in a noisy convoy – our only route to tonight’s hotel is through quiet backstreets and villages dotting the coastline. We pass a screaming dying dog recently hit by a passing vehicle, a noise that will stay with us for a long time.

Undeterred by the detour and the treacherous driving conditions we are all fired up after a day of rest and enjoying the challenge. Soaked to the bone we pit our wits against each other, taking foolish risks and playing chicken with overtaking trucks in our desire to get to the hotel before dark.

Team the Engine unfortunately come off badly in an incident with an oncoming truck and lose their windscreen. We experience brake failure while overtaking on a sharp bend, suddenly finding a rickshaw and a low hanging branch blocking our path. In a no-brake-panic the only thought that springs to mind is to sound the horn. Fortunately the oncoming rickshaw swerves off the road in the nick of time. It seems the broken stereo has worked itself loose and lodged itself firmly beneath the brake pedal unnoticed. A near miss and a new rule, ‘if you can’t fix the brakes, make the horn louder’.

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Team Luft der Freiheit were not so lucky – coming down a hill on a slippery turn their rickshaw loses control, skids off the road, crashes into a ditch and bursts into flames.

Niraj gets off lightly with a sprained knee and a dislocated shoulder, Hannes (the driver) however has it a lot worse. A gash nearly detaches his ear and his face and arms suffer deep cuts. He is rushed to the nearest government run ‘hospital’ 12 kilometres away where his wounds are bandaged and his butchered ear is re-attached with 26 stitches. Their rickshaw is a total write-off and they are out of the competition.

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Oblivious to some of the commotion, we are the 4th team to arrive just before dusk to be told the luggage truck would not arrive until very late as it has made a detour to pick up the demolished rickshaw. Lindsay, Dan and Arden brave the dangerously rising flood water to purchase Tarkali’s entire stock of Kingfisher. We stay up late awaiting the safe arrival of the final teams, giving in to sleep and dry clothes just before midnight but still 3 hours before the final team arrives!

Our accommodation for the night consists of Konkani-style rooms located among the trees on a beach in the middle of nowhere. Tonight we can fall asleep with the sound of the raging sea in our ears instead of the ringing from the rickshaw engines.

Kingfisher consumed: 48 large bottles, the entire village stock

Posted by hilarywh 05:23 Archived in India

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