Before we knew it, we were registered with The Adventurist, the organization putting on the race, and Frank Water, a project that we were fundraising for which would bring clean drinking water to India. At the basic level, we were to be given a rickshaw at the starting line and told where the finish would be. The 3,000km in between, whether it was accommodations and food, engine problems and encounters with the police, or anything else we could fathom, would be completely up to us. We assembled two teams; Grabby and Pat added Nick and Eric (both friends of Pats) and called themselves “Shaw to Curry Favor” (STCF), and I teamed up with Mike and Justin and dubbed ourselves “Triple Threat” (TT).
Four of us arrived at the Delhi Airport in India. Since we had a few days to kill before the race started, we decided to do some touristy things. At this point it was just Grabby, Mike, Justin and myself. We had a driver reserved that picked us up from the airport and took us to our hostel.
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As one could imagine the country seemed like complete chaos as soon as we arrived. Sensory overload was instant with all of the sounds, smells, and sights zipping past us. Upon arriving at the hostel the first thing we had to do was check to make sure our trains for the next few days were still good to go. They weren’t. We hadn’t made it onto any of the train lists so we had to cancel our reservation. The great staff at the hostel decided to help us out and give us a taxi and a driver for the 900km we had to go. Because of the mishap with the trains, our stay in Delhi was cut very short, and so, in order to at least see some of the city, our hostel arranged for a driver that would take us around town that evening. We went to a few temples and monuments where he snapped some photos of us before taking us to this excellent India restaurant called RDX for dinner. We had to call it a night at this point because the next day was an early one.
At the crack of dawn our cabbie picked us up (late of course – as everything seems to be in India) and we started our trek to Agra in order to see the Taj Mahal. After hours of long drives through the desert, many pit stops for road side food, and beggars with monkeys that wanted photos for which they charged through the roof, we arrived in Agra and spent an hour driving around as our cabbie tried to find the hostel we reserved. It was a nice hostel but hidden away, under construction, and freezing cold. The caretakers slept on the floor behind the reception desk. This is actually something we noticed a lot of in India. It seems that many people sleep at their place of employment. So many times we’d pull up to fuel stations and restaurants early in the morning just to wake the staff so that they could begin their workday.
We arrived at our hostel and our cabbie disappeared, so we decided to go for a walk. We found a Pizza Hut and of course went in to order some pizza and copious amounts of beer. The entire staff, about 12 of them, stood around our table and watched these white guys devour enormous pizzas and lots of beer, only serving the other customers when necessary. They took photos and entertained us, and one of the staff members actually asked to take a photo with Grabby and his shirt off – They were impressed with his physique. After this gong-show, we grabbed a cup of coffee and stumbled back to our freezing hostel because the next day was going to be incredibly long as well.