First it was the military guys with semi-automatic weapons not just at the airport but everywhere, second it was the buyers remorse with the somewhat expensive travel arrangements, third it was the disappointment with what we were told about the houseboat and what it actually was, fourth it was reading our lonely planet guidebook that had a definite warning about scams from Delhi and Srinagar houseboats, fifth it was the fact we were freezing our asses off because Srinagar in November is really cold at night–and we were on a boat in the water without heat, fifth if I’m going to be completely honest it was the every few hours all-night chanting from loudspeakers (which turned out to be calls to prayer–oops) and last but definitely not least it was the fact we were here and alone without cell service and fully able to comprehend the rashness of all of our previous decisions.
All of these things led to Kris and I getting a miserable night of sleep and feeding off of each others paranoia and fear. Kris would shout out from her bed under 7 blankets and say: I just read in lonely planet that we shouldn’t be here. I would then respond: yeah Pakistan and India have been fighting over Kashmir for a really long time, not only that there is some serious sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites–shoulda thought of that yesterday.
So after a few hours of freezing our asses off and freaking ourselves into a discussion of how we were going to sneak out of the boathouse and get to Dharamasala without the massive network of travel guides tracking us down; we got up to talk to the nice Greek travelers we were sharing the house boat with to see what their story was and how freaked or not they were.
Magda and Sotos had the almost exact same experience we had in Delhi except they were actually robbed. We commiserated for a while about the mind-fuck that is Delhi and then moved into the travel agency and the houseboat situation. They laughed at us because they had thought we handled the situation so calmly and weren’t freaking out–they said they too freaked out their first night about all of the same things. They ended up not booking their whole trip with the guys because it was out of their budget but since they paid for the houseboat already they were staying. They calmed us down a bit (enough so we didn’t grab our packs and leave that night) but the next morning we were ready to get in a cab to the airport and fly anywhere.
So we told the guide who came to get us we needed to go to the Internet cafe and had a whole scenario where we were using Ryan as a ploy to make us have to leave (i.e. my husband is freaked out about us changing plans and doesn’t want us in Kashmir). So Kris gets on Skype with Ryan while I look up available flights and busses that will eventually get us to Dharamasala. Kris is unfortunately at a computer whose video camera isn’t working properly so she appears as a fuzzy blob. She tries to explain to Ryan what is happening and uses some seriously red flag inducing words; police state, taken advantage of, scared and freaked. Not things you want to hear from your partner who is 1/2 way around the world.
We end up going back to the travel agency and discussing what has happened. They keep assuring us it is safe, they are honest people, we will get whatever we need and that things are fine. We start feeling stupid for our paranoia and go on with our plans keeping in mind we can always cancel the credit card payment, we can always get to the airport (we now have the schedule of flights), we are capable adults and can figure this shit out–let’s try to have a little fun on this adventure.
I’m not saying we let everything go–we still have a healthy skepticism for everything that is happening and are more aware of everything but we have decided to make things easier on ourselves by having an adventure and so far it has been phenomenal.
Absolutely phenomenal. But Ryan called the embassy inquiring about our safety and wants Kris to check in everyday twice a day.