Every morning before we leave for the day, Krishan, the driver of our bus, makes an offering to the Buddha on the dashboard, says a prayer for a safe journey and lights two sticks of incense and places them in the front grille to burn as we drive.
Nishan the guide has a sinus headache and skips the hike. We discover the meaning we of cloud forest, meaning there is no view at all at World’s End. We get almost swarmed by a bunch of men dominating the trail and are told it’s the prime minister. He’s far from shirtless and hot.
There is no tea or snacks after our hike and we begin our ride down in the rain. It’s beautiful but so slick.
Lunch takes forever to arrive, and I realize I’ve left my passport and wallet in the safe at the previous hotel. Nishan sends one of the drivers on the local bus to get it. The Serbian woman who doesn’t like riding decides she doesn’t want to ride after lunch but also doesn’t want to ride sit on the bus so asks Nishan to get her a private car to the hotel. He puts Chris in the car with her and tells them not to check in,since she is actually at a different hotel that night since she booked late.
After lunch, we get lost twice. We wind through a town peaceful with a call to prayer and then make a sharp turn and Nishan and Axel both screw their gears. Nishan fixes his bike and gives it to Axel, we stop for tea and biscuits, I talk to a little girl in her school uniform and it starts to rain.
We arrive, finally, in Ella, a sweet town that westerners like to hang out in. Our hotel is on the edge of town in a garden. I’m so grateful to be here. And i discover that the Serbian woman has stolen my room.
With one other person, I’m sent away from the sweet garden hotel to what my guidebook refers to as a monstrosity. The bus can’t get up the hill. The hotel is basic, with no wifi, no restaurant and what can only be described as a murder pit in my bathroom, completely open to the bathroom of the people below me.
The next morning, I ask Krishan to say a different prayer.