Day 11 Mussoorie to Rishikesh

A very long and difficult day. 

First, the bad news. For those of you who regularly read these blogs, you know I'm fond of saying that Motorsports are inherently dangerous. Well, today one of the competitors (and a good friend) got bit. Lars and Annette Rolner, who we first met on Peking to Paris in 2013 were driving their 1928 Bentley and got into a head-on collision going around a blind curve. Annette was very shaken up, but unhurt. Lars wasn't so lucky. His knee crashed into his dashboard putting a big gash in his leg just below the knee. He will need some surgery to repair tendons and muscles. The car received some damage. Lars spent several hours in a hospital and will start his journey home tomorrow. They will both be missed....they truly represented the Spirit of Rallying. The Indians in the other car were not especially injured, but their car was destroyed crashing into the Bentley. 

Good news. We're getting our Monit (our time/distance measuring device) sorted out. In today's Regularity Stage we were 9 seconds off the perfect score. Still not great, but much better than previous sessions. 

Our morning drive was beautiful. We climbed to about 8000 feet overlooking a green and lush valley with a massive lake at the bottom......lots of waterfalls, monkeys and birds. Even a basket cable car that carried a very small person the several miles across the valley and over the lake.....looked very dangerous and they are building a proper bridge where the lake narrows. The afternoon drive was a bear; most of the drive was over a highway that is under major construction.....massive delays, traffic jams, herds of cows in the middle of road, construction and dust and dirt everywhere. Our little white Porsche is filthy inside and out. We had one 30 minute stop caused by two buses trying to pass on the narrowest of roads and another 30 minute delay caused by a small landslide that needed to be cleared by the construction crews. 

In the midst of all this chaos, I noticed something new. Along many of the roads we traveled today, I saw families of itinerant herders living with their families and their livestock in makeshift tents along the roadside. These are not just another group of poor people. These herders have defined structure to their lives. Their wealth is mostly represented by the size of their herds, which they buy or sell as conditions permit. Their lives are very similar to the Bedouin families that I've seen in the Negev Desert in Israel. They stay in one place for a while and then move and herds. These people appear to be Muslims -- as I have seen them take out their prayer rugs, put them down on the dirt, just feet from the roadway, face Mecca and go through their daily prayers. 

Traffic, Dirt Dust,Construction and cows...... Chaos Extraordinaire (please excuse the blurry images' I was bouncing around in the car on very rough roads)

Tonight we're staying in Rishikesh ( made famous by the Beatles, who came here to learn Transcendental Meditation from the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi). This city sits close by the head waters of the sacred Ganges River and many Indians make the trek to the Ganges to bath in its waters and receive its blessings. Two other items about Rishikesh: (1) it is a dry town (no sale or consumption of alcohol in public), and (2) the whole town is vegetarian (tonight's dinner contained no meat and we were told that tomorrow's breakfast will have no eggs). I believe they do drink milk and I know they served butter at dinner tonight. 

The next five days we will focus on getting to Nepal and ultimately to Kathmandu, from where we will take a combination of helicopter and airplanes to explore the Mt. Everest environment .