20th - 21st march 2020
night in the wild
The whistles and whines of nature surrounded us as we laid vulnerable on our bikes under a congested, star lit sky. Our vision was blocked by the thin, crooked branches hanging over us like a dark cloud, leaving us in the gloomy depths of the shadows. This represented our lives at this very moment. Not welcome anywhere, foreigners… outcasts.
Even during our darkest hour there was light. The full moon shone prominently, showing every detail of its deep craters, the mile long scars of the universe’s ancient history. Millions of stars twinkled magically through the gaps of the brittle, dry leaves while the reflections of the singing trees bounced playfully behind us in the murky water.
The movement in the lake left me on edge with every splash, drop, and trickle, as my mind ran wild with the thoughts of crocodiles, snakes and all sorts of weird and wonderful creatures we may be in the presence of. The variety of insects was perplexing, all different colours and sizes, some had 5 eyes, some even had hundreds of legs. We watched them scuttling across the dry dirt from the safety of our bikes. I remember thinking to myself: it’s a good job they don’t need shoes, imagine putting those on every day - anything to keep our minds busy. Some of these creepy crawlies I had never seen before, some I may never see again but for tonight we all find ourselves 40 minutes north west of Kumbhalgarh fort In an unknown Indian village, sharing the same rocky, lakeside lay-by.
Our spirits stayed high even though we were at an all time low. We had some big decisions to make, however we didn’t let it affect us. We knew we couldn’t change the situation that night, so there was no point worrying about it. When you do relax and put a positive spin on things you’re able to see the good and the beauty in life. It’s always there even during the toughest situations, sometimes people refuse to see it or refuse to even try. One may get more attention by complaining and telling others how hard things are, but it’s often the hardest way to tackle a problem.
Our turbans proved to be a great purchase as we wrapped them tightly around our faces, protecting us from the innumerable mosquitoes looking for a midnight snack. My trousers gripped my neck like a python, nothing but our eyes exposed. A couple of hours in, the temperature dropped. The cold breeze cut through us, I felt as though it was turning into a survival mission. We became restless on the bikes and decided the best option would be to lay on top of our bags. This way we could sleep more at ease knowing nobody could steal them. We set up our ‘mattress’ next to a rock that looked like a perfect pillow. With my blanket under our heads, it made for a surprisingly comfy bed. We laid flat on our backs, shoulder to shoulder, just waiting for the morning sun to rise.
Will had no issues falling asleep, his body was stiff like a plank and his head rested as far back as his neck would allow. His face was covered with a pink patterned head scarf, fresh from the back streets of Jaipur. His neck-breaking position meant that he snored all night. The consistent chainsawing made it impossible for me to rest so I watched the world slowly turn on its axis and let my mind continue to drift into all sorts of crazy scenarios. I considered every situation and thought about what we should do next while Will laid there without a care in the world.
The fresh morning air sent a shiver down my spine, the intense sounds of the wildlife gradually became louder and louder, still echoing around the naturalistic and calm environment. My vision slowly came into focus as I sat up - the crooked branches didn’t look as scary and we were out of the shadows. We made it. We survived. The reward was a beautiful pink-tinged sky and a glassy lake that mirrored the vibrant colours. A quick glance around: our bags still lay beneath us, bikes were how we left them, and Will had not moved an inch. Everything was good in life. While Will was still fast asleep, I sat by the edge of the water and took in the view while enjoying my last banana and pack of biscuits, I thought to myself: how did we get into this crazy situation?