So this morning we woke up at 5 am–I think we’re still all messed up with our body clocks. We’ve been going bed at 8 or 9 pm and getting up at 4 or 5 am.
Anyhow, this morning we got in what I would call a gondola but others might disagree about the specifics. It was a 2 person luxurious double-wide canoe with a canopy and essentially a chaise lounge in the center covered with blankets. I’ve already gone off about the joy of hot water bottles but there was one under the blankets too.
Anyhow we have a cruise director canoeing us through a beautifully still lake at 5:30 am while we are snug as bugs in a rug with a hot water bottle. We gently glide through vegetable patches, water lilies and clear water until we get to a bridge. On the other side of the bridge is what looks like a town center if a town center square can be in the water with the rest of the town on land. There are 10-15 skinny canoes constantly moving towards one another with various vegetables or other trading goods inside while purposefully making deals and snide comments or gabbing to one another in Kashmiri. Goods are being traded and moved from one canoe to another or from a canoe to land. The lighter it gets the more people on land get involved in the discussions and joking.
We even get involved when a canoe full of flowers sidles up to Kris’s side of the boat (I’m still convinced there is a rumor going around all of Kashmir that she is into shopping–because every single person comes up to her to try and sell stuff acknowledging me as an afterthought). Anyhow, after I previously denyed a flower guy selling seeds she listens to this guy because he’s cute and full of flattery. So we participated in a small part of the action going on around us. After the sun had fully risen things slowed down and gently dispersed. Our cruise director gives us some warm Kashmiri bread freshly pulled from the oven on shore and we head back to the houseboat.
We get back to the houseboat, shared breakfast with our Greek compatriots and then headed off to the mountains.
The two hour drive to the mountains was like no other. It was a lot like driving on old state roads where the two lanes are very narrow (but this is India–there are no lanes or any rules except constantly be honking your horn) and there will be nothing for miles and then bam! you are in the town center. At times we were stuck in traffic caused by goats, horses, cows, other cars or busses or people chatting or 3 cars trying to pass the same goat at the same time on the right lane (they drive on the left–sort of). But the drive was equal parts splendor and squalor. It was amazing. And then came the Himalayan mountains.
It gets even better because Remy introduces us to a man with small horses which we then get to ride up parts of a mountain.
On a side note–I love horses but haven’t gone horseback riding since I was 16 with Kris. Kris isn’t necessarily the biggest fan of horses (its a combination of allergies and being slightly afraid). I have been bugging her for the last 15 or so years to go again to no avail. Last year she said she would but I haven’t gotten the nerve to schedule anything for fear of her allergies.
So it’s a double whammy of amazingness. The weather is perfect, the views are amazing and I am on a tiny horse in the Himilayan mountains. How amazingly lucky am I? Words cannot do my level of happiness justice.
Then we get to eat a box lunch next to a beautiful river, drink tea with our guide in his home and make the drive back with a whole new view. 🙂
Once we get back we have tea and dinner with our roomies–a special surprise is that the powers that be installed a wood burning heater in our living room!! Yippee!!
Best day ever! 🙂