Today started out great by being able to talk to Cori and the kids. Its been very hard only talking to them in the morning and at night. Those little chats are priceless. Before breakfast I went down to the front lobby/patio area and sat outside and read a book for a few minutes while I waited for the others to show up. It was a nice morning and it was neat to sit and read while watching the people walk by. The hotel was righ off the beach, so there was lots of busyness going on. Anywhere you look, you're likely to see a rooster, a dog, a goat, a cow, a water buffalo, a bicycle, a rickshaw, a scooter, a motorcycle, a car, a bus or a person. And many times you can see all of that in one camera frame. Its almost too much to take in sometimes, like sensory overload. If you like to people-watch, this is a great place for that.
After breakfast, we walked about a mile down the seawall road and walked out on a rock pier and watched the waves crash in from the Bay of Bengal. I could have sat there for hours watching the power of the sea. As we walked back to the hotel, we managed to find a couple of places to buy some souvenirs. Traversing these markets is crazy. So many people come up to you and want you to buy what they're selling. And they're so relentless its maddening. You try to be polite, but they are unphased. There are two guys in particular that have found us on both days and continued to push their products on us. Its funny, the guy selling laminated maps of India for some reason always spots Dave and won't leave him alone. For me, its the guy selling the hand-carved bongo drums. He has about 10 of the tied around his neck and walks around playing one. So it turned into a joke about Dave and his map guy and me and the little drummer boy.
Dave's a great guy and this trip wouldn't be nearly the good experience if he weren't here. Dave and I started at Rosetta Stone at the same time back in 2006 when we moved to Virginia. He, too, moved there from out of state (Rochester, NY) and so we both were living in Harrisonburg without our families for a period of time and and friendship grew out of that commonality. He's a bit older than me, but he's about the nicest guy you could meet.
We packed up our stuff and checked out of the hotel and met our driver to take us back to Chennai around noon. Just outside Pondicherry, we stopped at another temple, that was located on a huge estate of thousands of acres. We spent a couple hours there I think and finally started the long journey back to Chennai. This trip was probably the most stressful road trip I've ever been on. For some reason, our driver seemed to be overly agressive today; not sure why. Again, if wasn't passing someone, he was honking, if he wasn't honking, he was flashing his brights. It exhausts me to just sit as a passenger in the back watching it all, I can't imagine how exhausting it is to be the driver. Maybe that's why he was in a hurry just to get the trip over with.
The familiar combo of rooster, dog, cow, person, bike, motorcycle, rickshaw, car, bus are very prominent on the highway as well. They are all competing for their piece of the road and it is just crazy. There was one point today that were were going a cross a large marshy area on a long two-lane bridge. For some reason, our driver was not deterred in his affinity for passing slower cars, etc. in front of us. As we're going across this bridge, the car in front of us starts to pass the bus in front of them. I guess they were both going too slow for our driver's liking, cuz he started to try passing both of them at the same time. So here we are three abreast going across a two lane bridge at about 50mph and nothing but oncoming traffic coming straight at us. In addition to the bus and two cars making a moving wall across the road, there were bicycles trying to squeeze past in the very small "shoulders" and refuse to stop, they just keep moving. Today for about 5 hours, I sat in the back seat and witnessed this maniacal driving - wincing and gasping and covering my face at just about every turn. Crazy!
We actually made it back to the hotel at 7:00 tonight. I may actually get to bed before midnight for the first time on this trip.