Since abandoning the tent, finding accommodation each day has been difficult. The problem is the distance between one town that has accommodation to the next town with accommodation. Sometimes it is over 60 km. Obviously, it is not possible for me to walk this in one day. So, my dilemma was, do I set off at 5.00am and walk as far as I can go or, do I catch a bus, then have the bus drop me 20-25 km away from my destination, so I could walk the rest? Not walking all the way was a disappointment to me, but with the leopards out in the wilds and the lack of accommodation en route, I was left with no other option.
So today I decided to just walk and see what happens; my next available accommodation was 53 km away. Some people would call this madness. I thought if I could reach the first small settlement which was 25kms away, I could assess the situation from there.
Obviously I started early and needed to walk for about 40 minutes before the sun came up. I had been walking for about hour or so whena man stopped on his bike. People really can’t understand why anyone, especially a foreigner wearing a pink hat, should be walking. Each day I have at 5 to 10 motor bikes stop, most just want a picture, a selfie, with a strange foreigner but some want to help and give me a lift. I say ‘no, I am walking’, and I need to walk as much as I can.
But this guy, Asif, really wanted to help. He was going my way, so I admit that there is no way I could walk 53 km, so I jumped on. He drove, we talked. Soon we stopped and had a chi together. I explained my mission and now he is following the blog.
He dropped me off and now the distance to my accommodation, was achievable as it was only 25 km. This was a big walk for me; the most I had done since the second day of my walk. I soldiered on and it was not too much further on that I saw a school. I crossed the road, and soon I was surrounded by 50 children. The teacher came out. I explained that I was walking across India for education and he invited me in. But first he checked my passport. I am amazed. I looked at the playground and I wanted to stay and get the skipping ropes out that I have carried with me from the start. But I knew I couldn’t stay too long; it was getting late and I still had two hours of walking ahead of me.
This made me sad. I wished I could have stayed here all day, but the walking and the hot temperatures would not allow me to do so.
The teacher then asked if I could raise some money for his school. I was honest and so told him ‘no’. There are thousands of schools, not just in India, that need help.
I went into the school and this school had desks and chairs so it couldn’t be that bad. The children, as always in India, were so respectful and all wanted to talk to me.
I wrote my blog address on the board for the teachers to follow my progress.
I was then invited into another classroom to watch children perform a dance they have been learning. The teacher explained the dance and the song. He told me that we were an agricultural community. The song was in Marathi and had a meaning. The song and dance said if the children keep smiling, then God will provide what is needed for the crops to grow.
Then just as I was about to leave, I was invited to join in on the dance. So, Michael Palin, eat your heart out. Daddy Dancing to the rescue and I joined in with the children.
I left the school and hit the road once more. I reached the next town and found good accommodation. All this before 12.30pm.
I thought back over the day. I walked 25 km, even though my feet are paying the price. I saw the Godavari River, I met some great people and I danced in a primary school. The perfect day!