On the Road Near Kaziranga - India Update
Once the strike near Kaziranga was over we began our slow trip to Manas National Park. In good conditions the drive from Kaziranga to Guwahati would take about seven hours but after the flood we were forced to split it into two days.
Our first day was spent driving to the city of Guwahati. The drive was long but had its high points including our driver's obligatory stop at the Goddess of Power's Residence to pick up incense, flowers, and small seeds or beans so that we could pay our respect and maybe receive some added power. The incense was lit and put in the holiest of places: the stereo face-plate. We arrived in Guwahati perhaps feeling a little more powerful or, if nothing else, smelling a bit like incense.
The next leg of the trip was long and hard. We had barely made it out of Guwahati when I felt that the inside of the car was getting progressively warmer. It was becoming so hot that at one point I was sure the heat was on. Shortly after asking the crew whether the A/C was on and working we discovered the vehicle was having electrical problems. With the electricity dying the fancy power windows were failing us and as I was sitting on the sunny side of the car the environment was quickly becoming like a personal green house in the middle of the Indian heat. Mike, my partner in crime on this response, noted that I had entered survival mode- barely talking or moving. Fortunately we were less than 5 minutes to a village and were able to jump ship (thank god the power doors were unlocked) and seek shade and cold drinks while the poor driver was forced to determine what was wrong, buy a new part, and receive a jump from a battery carried in the back of a bicycle carriage. An hour or so later, we were back on the road.
The roads got progressively worse as we approached Manas but it turned out that the strike in Kaziranga may have served as a blessing in disguise for us. Although arriving today instead of yesterday meant that we missed the first morning of the vaccination camp, it also means that we missed the surprise of the main highway being underwater and closed which would have left us stranded. With that section of the road open we were able to pick our way along through monstrous potholes as a park ranger showed us the back way through small villages bordering the park.
It is difficult to spend two more days traveling after the two it took us to initially get to this part of India all the while knowing that there are animals in need. This is a common frustration after a disaster, knowing there are individuals in need but not being able to get to them. But the distance is tolerable given the 5,000 cattle awaiting vaccination and medical treatment at the journey's end.