I’m a hiker. That is how I spend my hours, my afternoons and sometimes full days. I love a good trek up a pine covered mountains and hiking to pristine alpine lakes. I could spend almost a full day hiking up a mountain to a 10,000 foot summit.
Here in India they refer to hiking as a “trek” Earlier in this pre Christmas holiday week my boyfriend took me on my first “trek” experience in his home country of India. I’m happy to say I survived both the ticks and cobras as well as sloppy red mud up to my knees.
We were having an early supper at my boyfriends brothers house in what is more or less “out in the country” or considered that outside of the massive sprawl of a city of Bangalore. The coconut rice and masala seared chicken livers were still being prepared so he decided to take me on a “trek” to the local quarry.
Cyclone Vardah had torn through the region just the day before and we were still seeing the grey overcast skies and showers from what remained of the last wisps of the storm but the weather had pretty much cleared out and sort of quit raining after two days of pounding rains and being stuck indoors. Going for a little hike and getting my first look at the forests of India sounded like a splendid idea.
Until we started walking and trudging really, through thick mud up to my knees in places. It was pretty though, as we wandered past public gardens covered with ripe red tomatoes and spicy green peppers just begging to be picked. He picked some ripe lantana berries for me to try. Although these cousins to the blackberries back home looked tasty, I just didn’t care for them. The feature of this hike was the quarry, now filled with water after days and days of rain storms. We decided to hike down to it amid the fields of tomatoes and wide white quartz looking rocks. The hike would have been easy if I was not sinking, at times almost to my knees in the sticky red mud.
I thought of the scene from The Never-ending Story where Artax the horse drowns in the mud and that was exactly how I felt dragging myself across the field of mud and sinking deeper and deeper on this cold slightly rainy day. I wondered how far I would sink into the mud but that would not be my biggest problem of the day.
I had pulled my muddy now red running shoes out of the mud and was behind my boyfriend on the path that led between the two deep quarries when I looked down at my pants and noticed I was covered in little green things.
Ticks, I thought, more than slightly panicked as visions of Lyme Disease floated through my head. I pulled a few bright green ones from my skin, not thinking how to safely remove a tick, just panicked at how many, nearly one hundred, that were on me.
“Babe, I’m covered in ticks!” I yelled, not hiding the hysteria in my voice as I slid down a muddy hillside. My leg was now bleeding in places where I had pulled the ticks out. He was waiting for me on the other side of the quarry and was ready to combat my hysteria.
“We don’t have ticks in India, those are just burrs” He said, smashing a few off my legs. I did not believe him! I knew he grew up here but they looked just like ticks! He was already making his way up to a big quartz looking rock garden as I struggled behind trying not to go into full panic mode at the thought of Lyme Disease coursing through my veins.
Oh and then he told me to watch out for cobras.
The area we were trekking through with all the big rocks to get back were where the cobras lived. I’m proud to say we made it back to the coconut rice and liver without being attacked by a cobra or running into any actual ticks.
I survived my first trek in India!