Hampi part 4, temples and coracles

Trip Start Feb 19, 2006
Trip End Oct 01, 2006

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

So in the heat of the day I set out once again, in a quest for the vanakkam temple, the one with the stone chariot. . Walking on a sometimes non-existent path, I finally came to a ruin by a river in which many indians were swimming, and rickshaws and taxis were parked all around.
Of course "swimming" is not quite the word to describe it, it is more like wading, as the vast majority of Indians, it would seem, do not know at all how to swim. This is also true of the fishermen in Goa, amazingly enough, and the tourists all wade in the waters there, never venturing in past their waists. Must be some kind of phobia, or something.
What happens if one of the fishermen falls off of the boat? Do they then try to fish for him with the net? Or is he just bait then?

So I sat in the shade for a much needed break, having chai with the drivers and answering the requisite questions, which have been mentioned before in other entries. Always the same. I did, however, roll one of my european tobacco cigarettes for a man, and he loved the taste of it. When I saw him a little later at the Vanukkam temple, he even asked for another one. A rolling believer.
I had passed a couple of westerner women at the gonesh temple on the way, and also ran into them at Vanukkam. I told them of my plan to find Hanuman's temple on the hill, and to hire a coracle for 10 roops a head to get over there. Unfortunately the only coracle we saw was being used for fishing. The older of the two women, Monika, (slovakia), being still in the "i want it now" western mode, kept motioning and calling to the old fisherman, who just ignored the irreverence and went about his task of casting the nets. I calmly suggested that we just wait until he had laid his nets, and perhaps then he would be game for taking a couple of loud-mouthed westerns across the river. .

as I thought, the time came, and he paddled over, getting off and leaving his son(?) to paddle the three across. I negotiated, pointing to each head: "ten, ten, ten, total thirty. He nodded, and we climbed into the flexing but extremely bouyant vessel, and across we went. The crossing took all of 2 minutes, and on reaching the other side, the boy demanded, "One hundred fifty!" I just laughed, and told him as best I could that the price was thirty, doing the "ten ten ten" thing again. He just shrugged. I guess he thought it was worth a try.

The way to the Hanuman temple is not clear-cut, and the shadows were growing, so we just decided to explore the temples and ruins close to the river. There was the remains of an old bridge, posts about 25-20 feet high, and it must have been huge to have crossed the river "canyon" to the other side. Now, though, it is just fallen pillars and ruins.
When the time came to take another coracle across, we walked up to a small village and managed a fare with the "manager" who was an ancient woman, perhaps the great-grandmother of the clan, and she sent the two smallest children with us. To do the paddling, she sent a girl, all of about ten years old, with nothing but a split piece of bamboo for a paddle.
Needless to say, the crossing did take a little longer this time, though for the same standard price. On the upside (as if there is a downside) I looked up the glassy river to see another coracle, and the man in it with his girlfriend looked mighty familiar, "Victor!! Victor!!" I called out, and sure enough, the Ukranians had arrived at last in Hampi. Though I did not see Victor again in Hampi, I did run into Sasha,and the other one with the unpronounceable name, and we shared a couple of cokes in a small dhaba on the outskirts of the village. Nice to see old friends again. I had bid a fond farewell to my Slovakian friends a bit earlier, as they seemed to be on their own path, and I was going with a little more conviction to my destination, The Gopi, for music, and a couple of the "Special" drinks.

Monkeys followed me on the way back, perhaps a little annoyed that I had not visited the high temple hill of their King, Hanuman. . But the Ravi temple is just as high, and much easier to negotiate. .
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