I received a call late on Friday night from an Indian friend inviting me to join him and some friends for a weekend camping trip in an area called Reishikesh, in the Himalayas. Physically I knew I should decline because I was still getting over a bad cold, but emotionally I needed it. My soul required mending and my lungs craved fresh mountain air like an addict drawn to drugs. So I agreed to join them and ended up seeing the splendors of India and having the time of my life!
We left around 9:00 AM on Saturday and drove for about 7 hours, arriving just after dark. There seemed to be no direct route to get there and the roads were in horrible shape. Even many of the the “highways” we’re gravel roads filled with pot holes. We passed the time by listening to music and observing the sites of rural Indian villages.
Soon we were carefully navigating the narrow steep roads common in the Himalayas. The locals drive those roads very fast, swerving quickly around giant pot holes, monkeys, cows, landslides and pedestrians as if they don’t care that one swerve too many could send you plummeting hundreds of meters straight down!
We eventually pulled over and parked our rig on the side of one of those narrow roads and then proceeded to hike down a steep trail using our flashlights to see best we could. It was notably colder and the wind was kicking up so I was glad I had thought to bring a coat! I noticed no one had camping gear and wondered briefly if we were going to sleep out under the stars in the cold. Then out of nowhere I saw lights ahead, and suddenly we were walking into a charming little place with small but lovely cottages. The sign said “Welcome to Rainbow Resort”. The camp host introduced himself and showed us the way to our “campsite” which I was pleased to realized was one of the cabins.
While we were unpacking they brought us a hot meal to enjoy and then it suddenly started to rain. I had missed the rain so much that I just stood in it with my face to the sky. It felt so good!! A short time later there was thunder, lightning and strong winds that caused the power to go out. But it was fun eating our dinner by the light of our cell phones in the middle of the rain forest watching the storm outside. It passed in about 30 minutes and then they made us a nice bonfire where we sat and listened to the sound of the Ganga River rushing by and the jungle creatures calling to the night.
In the morning I was thrilled to find our that we were going white water rafting! Unfortunately though I hadn’t packed shorts or a swimsuit. Kirti suggested I wear a pair of his clean boxer shorts. I thought the idea was ridiculous until he showed them to me. They looked like regular shorts and fit perfectly!
A short while later we were getting ready to board our raft and listening to stern safety instructions from our guide in Hindi. I didn’t bother to tell them I couldn’t understand most of it! We rode through four main rapids of which one was a class 4. They had names like Roller Coaster, Clubhouse, Golf Course and Poor Cash Flow. No one knew the story of how that one got its name!
The water was a brilliant turquoise color and the steep mountains surrounded it on both sides. I saw monkeys, birds and many natives bathing or washing clothes as we floated by. We stopped for lunch, did some cliff jumping and were served Maggie, which is a spicy Top Ramen kind of dish. Those 4 hours went by way too fast and soon it was time for the 7 hour drive home. It was really a bucket list kind of experience. Not only did I go white water rafting in the Himalayas, but I did it wearing men’s underwear!!