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Antonio's Travel log

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Travelling is the only way to learn what neither books nor teachers will ever be able to explain

Log entries 1 - 9 of 9 

Oct 04, 2008 02:00 PM Dreams becoming reality

Dreams becoming reality I can't understand life without travelling anymore...

I remember in my childhood that while my classmates spent the whole evening watching stupid series and cartoons on the TV, I would rather watch documentaries and read books with pictures of other countries that impressed me so much. At that time, I respected the cameras of those programmes since I considered they were real adventurers. Years later I came really interested in travel literature, getting to difference real travellers from simple tourist. I admired the first ones and read their pages with great envy, while my tryps and the time were only easy ones to european countries.

But I felt it all had to change. My next tryps were to less easily traveled countries, always sleeping in the streets, stations or where I happened to be. Travelling on a low budget gave me the chance to be one more among the locals, and that was just what I wanted.

Last months I decided to travel to India to fulfill a childhood dream. Now I am back with an unusual nontouristical voyage on my small backpack, so I am writting the highlights of it with the only aim of helping with my little experience to whoever may be interested and inspire anyone in the same way many others inspired me and still do today...

Sep 04, 2008 02:00 PM Closer to Badrinath

Closer to Badrinath Next morning, 6:30 am I got on another bus heading to Srinagar, and from there another one to Joshimath. For some reason all the connections that I had been said were wrong. I didn't get angry anyway, on the way I had met great friends who shared their knowledge with me, and I had spent the day admiring high peaks and stunning landscapes.

However, and as is usual in those roads, we had a flat tire and among many of us got it changed, which took some time...

Once in Joshimath, since it was too late and dark to travel further, I visited the three temples, and the caves where important babas had lived and meditated in the past, and hanged around the bazaar to meet people.

I was refused by an angry Sikh to sleep in the Gurudwara, and all the room in the temples were full, so I bargained a cheap bed and slept with a window showing a precious stary sky and the silouhete of the mountains.

Sep 03, 2008 02:00 PM Road and road...

I woke up early in the morning next day, and had a banana for breakfast by the Ganga, while some pilgrims took their first bath and others sang by the temple.

At 6.30 am I tried to hitch-hike back to Uttarkashi, to take another road from there to my next destination, the holy city of Badrinath. It's almost impossible to be taken on a car since all private cars usually leave much later, and the only chance then is to take a shared taxi, what I did. It took us like five hours to get there, trvelling through a breathtaking road, and once there I found that there was no connection to Badrinath until next morning! I was short on time so I spent like 30 minutes getting the ticket seller with a basic english to understand that I needed to get to Badrinath that day. All that I got was a bus to Teri, in the middle of the road, from where I could get on another one early next morning. I accepted happily and the bus left in 10 minutes.

On the way, the driver told me that we were heading to New Teri, since original one was sunk under a lake now. We got there late, since I was the only passenger and we stopped many times for a chai and to admire the mountains.

For some reason the Gurudwara was closed and I had to go to a cheap hostel, where after eating a veggie thali and going to sleep I found a tarantula on my bed!

Sep 02, 2008 02:00 PM Life in Gangotri...

Life in Gangotri... Next morning I woke up with the firsts rays of the sun going inside the cave, and soon my saddhu friend made some chai with herbs, lighted with dried branches that I had collected the night before.

We spent some hours talking, and when I was about to leave, a baba was just arriving to meditate in the goofa, and noticing I was a foreigner he invited me to join their meditation, which finished with another chai and a rewarding conversation.

After that I left back to Gangotri, avoiding in the last kilometers walking along the path so that the guards on the checkpost didn't see me without permission. Once in town, I walked to the center, where the main priest who I had met days ago invited me to sleep in his house. I accepted, but before that I still had time to witness some ceremonies to the Ganga river and to speak with priests, monks, nuns and saddhus. After the emotive ceremony in the temple I had some dinner with my priest friend, ( I hadn't eaten anything since those two chais in the morning) and we walked home.

Before sleeping he blessed some water I had taken in the Ganga river origin and prayed for my tryp, my family and myself.

Sep 01, 2008 02:00 PM A long walk...

A long walk... Every night I know that next day I'm visiting a new country or carrying out any unusual experience, I sleep very little, or sometimes nothing. That night, having in mind my plan for the next day wouldn't be so different.

I woke up at half three, and begin to walk to the Gangotri National Park checkpost. I didn't have (and couldn't pay) the permit needed to enter the park, so following the advice of my saddhu friend, I didn't walk on the path, but by the freezing river side, for about a kilometer, with no help but the dim light in the moon. It was the only way where nobody would notice my presence. The way wasn't any easy, but after a loooooong time, I had got into the park as I wanted. The sun was already shining, so I began to walk fast. It was cold, so I had my three T-shirts and my two trousers on. With only my notebook on my small back pack it wasn't too hard to reach Gaumukh (around 19 km away) in 3.30 hours. The views were rewardingly amazing, the air so clean and my feelings inside were without words. I walked fast, very fast, without even eating. On the horizon was the peak with the huge glacier, origin of the Ganga, which inspired my fast walking. I met some sherpas on the way, and a couple of Babas in their caves. I also visited the ashram in Gaumukh, where I shared a chai.

When I proceeded, I noticed a small group coming back in the narrow path. I left the way, and hided myself in some rocks, fearing that he was the Government Vip and the Park Forester visiting those days the area and who would fine and imprison me if they knew I didn't have the permit. I was actually happy that they were not on my way after they passed since that meant now I could walk freely despite the prohibition signs. And so I did, till the Topovan and Shivling peaks were completely seen. I calculated that by that time I had already walked nearly 40 km, so I returned back.

On the way, I stopped in a goofa (cave) inhabited by two young saddhus and stayed for the night. After the whole day walking, I only eat some vegetables, but I felt so good inside that I didn't feel the need for more.

Aug 31, 2008 02:00 PM Baba, where are you?

Baba, where are you? As the firsts rays of light came into the cave, we all woke up. I washed my face in the Ganga river, and after making some fire with dried branches, we had some tea and left wishing "Hari om" to the Baba and its aprentices.

I tried to hitchhike the rest of the way to Gangotri, but I didn't want to leave my friends (the baba its saddhus accompaniants) there, and getting a vehicle for five people was quite hard, so we ended up by sharing a shared-taxi. Some hours later, after a astonishing drive through a picturesque road, we got to the holy city. There were many devotees singing along the main street, which was full of saddhus. The atmosphere was so cosy.

I went to the temple with my saddhu friends, and afterwards they took a purifying bath in the freezing river. That was the only purpose of their journey to Gangotri, but before leaving they helped me asking everyone for Baba Ashoka Nanada, a friend of Globo member Jorgesanchez, who recommended me to meet him to learn from his knowledge. However, nobody seemed to know this wise man, nor his Goofa (cave). My friends left back to Uttarkashi, but I stayed in Gangotri.

That evening, while I kept asking for this lost Baba, the main priest of the temple accepted me in his house for the night. At the small ashram located on the entrance of the Gangotri National Park,my new saddhus friends told me two bad news in the same minute. Baba Ashoka was now living in Japan, and his goofa was locked, and to proceed further into the Park, I would needed a special permission issued in Uttarkashi. I laughed and shared a tea with the ganja-smokers saddhus, and at sunset I went back to town

Back to Gangotri, I stopped to meditate for a second by the Ganga. I wouldn't surrender to such a small problem... That night I went to sleep, after an instructive chat with the priest, with a new idea in my mind...

Aug 30, 2008 02:00 PM An unexpected night...

An unexpected night... I woke up as the sun rose, and many indians began to arrive at the station. There was no direct connection between Rishikesh and Gangotri, as the ticket seller had told me the night before, so I took another bus to Uttarkashi. All the passengers where pilgrims heading to holy Gangotri to bath near the Ganga river origin, and to pray in the temple. They were singing songs together, and sharing their food. When they noticed I was a foreigner they translated some of the songs for me and allowed me to taste their plates.

Once in Uttarkashi, we changed to another bus, that time with Gangotri as final destination. (Un)fortunately, it broke in the middle of the way, in a little town called Bhatwari. It was becoming dark, and all the pilgrims went to look for any accomodation. I joined the baba and the saddhus travelling with him, and found the cave of the local baba, where we eat and spent the night.

Help between saddhus is more than common, since they apply the so called "saddhu sahib", a law that by ethical principles provides mutual help, both material (food and any necessary item), accomodation and of course personal help and knowledge.

That night I slept on the floor of a cave by the Ganga, after eating some vegetables under the stary Himalayan sky... I felt like at home...

Aug 29, 2008 02:00 PM Arriving to holy land...

Arriving to holy land... I arrived in Haridwar early in the morning, and walking along the market went to the main ghats on the Ganga River, to share the feeling and ilusion of those bathing in its water. After having breakfast with them, I climbed the stairs to the Mansa Devi Temple, singing with the devotees, and once on top I rested admiring the rewarding views and visited the mandir (temple) to pray and as a kind of oracule ask about the destiny of my voyage.

On the way down I exchanged impressions with all the pilgrims, who even on a very basic English were very happy to find a foreigner. All over India people always tried to help me in any way. Most of them offered me food, took me to their houses to sleep and answered my curious questions. They always made me feel one more with them instead of a visitor.

I spent the rest of the day visiting the main temples, and some important ashrams where both students and masters instructed me in their religion and beliefs. I also visited their kitchens, to learn new recipes and to help cooking for all the persons that eat there.

That night I hitchhiked up to Rishikesh, and after a short walk through its picturesque market, and staring at hypnotising Ganga once again, I waited sleeping in the bus station for an early bus to the north.

Aug 28, 2008 02:00 PM Back to Himalayas.

Back to Himalayas. I had spent two days visiting the well-known city of Agra and the nearby Fatephur Sikri. Although I was impressed by the beauty of both, I felt that the amount of tourist changed the city atmosphere to a different one to the rural areas of India where I had been staying days ago, so I decided to head back to the Himalayas. I had already visited the Kingdown of Laddakh in Kashmir, so now I would go as a pilgrim along with other indians to Uttarakhand, to make the Yatra pilgrimage and to penetrate ilegally without visa (as I had done two months ago in Pakistan, only for a little time) in lovely Tibet as a farewell from my voyage...

That would give me the chance of mixing and living with the locals, and experiencing the life in high mountains, apart of developing my inner world in such a holy area of great spiritual magnetism.

So, that day I visited most important monuments in Agra paying indian price or big discunts since I was economicanlly broken, and after visiting the tomb of the Emperor Akbar, I took a night bus to the holy city of Haridwar (which literally means "Gateway of Gods"). I couldn't sleep in the whole night because of the emotion...

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