There is one big negative which is going to stick in my memory of this whole trip, and that is RAIN. In Nepal it never stopped. On the first day I dressed appropriately in my new lightweight Berghaus jacket and trainers, and soon concluded that this wholly appropriate attire was a total waste of time. Within minutes I realised that the jacket’s label stating ‘waterproof’ did not apply to Nepalese rain, and my shirt underneath was clinging to me like a wet frog. I also decided that the Nike ‘Tick’ on my trainers should have been a ‘Cross’ if considered in such conditions. The next day I did as the locals do, and just sported flip flops. They were far more effective for wading through road rivers, and required no drying time.
When I got to Goa we had a perfect few days of sunshine and stunning sunsets, then the deep depression followed me, and I spent most of my time drenched to the skin, with frizzy hair like a grown-out perm. Not only that, this rain was the wettest rain I have ever known. It didn’t just soak you, it drowned you. Within minutes I looked like the worst contestant in a wet T-shirt competition. In the end I just resigned myself to a semi-aquatic existence. Unfortunately last week, just as I was about to leave, my deep depression turned into a cyclone over the entire west coast of India. I had decided to stay in a beach shack, in a little resort only 15 minutes from the airport, as I had an early flight the next morning. The one hour journey there took 21/2 hours, as the battered old taxi tried to swim through floods and avoid fallen branches. When we arrived in the little village of Bogmalo I immediately shortened the name to ‘Bog.’ My idyllic beach shack had been partially washed away, and the sea was littered with floating sun loungers and parasols. I hastily found a rather nice hotel up the road which was open, and checked-in. As I left reception the assistant said, ‘Do take an umbrella.’ I said it was pointless in such windy conditions, to which she replied ‘Oh no madam, this is to protect you from falling coconuts, they can kill, you know.’ I grabbed the umbrella and spent the next 5 minutes trying not to do a Mary Poppins whilst musing on another interesting obituary for me. I had a very sleepless night partly due to the thunder, lighting and thud of coconuts falling on my roof, but also because I was constantly checking to see if IndiGo flight 267 to Bengaluru was actually going to take off. As there was no upto date information I headed to the airport anyway at 5am, skirting fallen palm trees and disassembled wooden houses en route. The taxi driver was an old boy, and he said that this was the worst cyclone in his lifetime. Oh Jayne, what perfect timing! Apparently, the beach road I had travelled along just hours before, had been washed away overnight. I am pleased to say that my flight did get blown off the runway in vaguely the right direction but Christ! It was a bumpy ride. If this had been an EasyJet flight there would have been a chorus of screams and shouts of ‘Bugger’ as we repeatedly plummeted a few thousand feet then climbed again. Here, as I was the only non-Hindu on the flight, I had to blaspheme under my breath. The rest of the passengers had handed themselves over to the will of the numerous Hindu gods, and just sat in their seatbelts peacefully.
Two flights later I did finally reach the Maldives and the tiny runway, which is a thin strip of tarmac on a short, skinny island, was bathed in sunshine. ‘This is going to fab’ I thought. It was… for one day. Then the rain started and didn’t stop. Yesterday I changed hotels and one of the highlights of my whole adventure was to be the transfer by seaplane to the second hotel. I headed back to the airport by speedboat where I was told that, due to the weather, my plane might not be taking off, and I might have to take a 6 hour vomit-inducing ferry ride instead. I wasn’t going to jump at that alternative. After a 3 hour wait the storm subsided and up I went in my seaplane to witness the most amazing view of the tiny atolls below, surrounded by coral reefs and the breaking waves of the turquoise sea. I was so happy when I landed that, for a second, I didn’t realise that it had started raining again. It is still raining.